Capstone: Work & Poverty
Wednesday s 4-6:20pm
Harris Hall 303
Instructor: Dr. Wendy Williams Email: email@example.com
Office: Harris Hall, Room 314 Office Phone: 696-2779
Office Hours: Mondays 11:45am-2pm; 3:15-5pm or by appointment
Course Description: There are inextricable links between the concepts of work and
poverty in the Western intellectual tradition. On one hand, we often posit work as the
answer to the problem of poverty. Work is necessary for social mobility, a key that
unlocks access to our dreams of prosperity. On the other hand, we are well aware that this
link between work and poverty is not automatic. Our collective experience provides
many examples of individuals who dedicate their lives to their work, who express an
unquestioned ethic of work and responsibility, but who still fail to realize the promise of
riches that is supposed to follow. So where does this leave the link between work and
poverty in American society? This class explores this question through sustained
engagement with these concepts. This will involve a multi-level analysis, including but
not limited to gender, race and social class. In addition, this class has been selected to
received a service learning grant which will be used to support the creation of materials
for the ourmountainstate.org website. This will not be a traditional service learning
course, but it will require students to travel to various parts of the state (and will be
reimbursed for that travel) and use electronic equipment (video, pictures, digital audio
files—which will be provided by the faculty for use during the course) to construct visual
and written narratives about certain West Virginia organizations. These narratives will be
presented to the Marshall and local community in a final public presentation.
Prerequisites: PSY 223, PSY 323. It will be very difficult to do well in this course
without strong performances in both of the prerequisite courses.
Readings: There is one textbook for this course and one pack of readings. The textbook
Shulman, B. (2005). The betrayal of work: How low-wage jobs fail 30 million Americans
and their families. New York: The New Press.
There will be one additional book for the course (for the book review) that will be
determined by the instructor and students during class.
The packet of the readings is available online on the course website via WebCT-VISTA.
You are responsible for reading all of the assigned materials, printing all of the articles,
and coming to class prepared with the articles for discussion.
Class format: Each week will be broken down into roughly two sections. The first half of
the class will be an extended discussion on the finer points of the article for that week.
The second half of the class will be devoted to a fuller discussion (lead by one of the
students) of the meaning of the articles and how they tie into the main themes of the
course. I will also bring discussion ideas and questions to class and expect that you will,
too, even when you are not presenting. You should come to class prepared to discuss
ideas and concepts with your colleagues. When necessary I will provide an overview of
additional material and/or a mini-lecture on the following week’s readings. These
lectures/overviews are intended to provide background information as well as an
understanding of why I have chosen each week’s set of articles.
Computer Requirements: In order to do well in this course, it will be beneficial for you
to regularly check your email and the course website on WebCT-VISTA. You are not
required to have your own computer, however, you will need to plan in advance to have
access to one (through student computer labs if necessary) in order to complete the paper
assignments, to access the week’s readings, and to check your grades. Since we only
meet once a week, I may need to communicate/clarify assignments/readings, so it is to
your benefit to check the site regularly (once or twice a week at least).
Contacting me: The best ways to reach me are to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or
to stop by my office hours. You’ll receive the quickest response by emailing me at the
address listed above. In addition, I often cannot get to the phone, even when I am in my
office, so calling me is not a good way to reach me. Please utilize email and my office
hours. I am available to make individual appointments if you cannot make my office
Objectives/Outcomes: The objectives of the course are to:
1) Expose students to an overview of major research areas in the psychological study
of work and poverty including a critical analysis of social class, gender and
2) Encourage students to become proficient presenting their ideas orally.
3) Encourage students to become proficient presenting their ideas in writing.
4) Encourage students to engage with the material through the integration and
application of ideas to their own and others lives.
5) Demonstrate increased social sensitivity by reflecting on how civic engagement,
along with social science research and theory, can foster social change on behalf
of low-income men and women in the US and in Appalachia.
Classroom discussion (30% of your grade): You will be given participation points for 11
weeks in which you participate in the class discussion (this does not include the first class
meeting). Since there are 12 discussion weeks, that means that you can either miss one
week without penalty or drop your lowest discussion grade. Points will be awarded as
follows: 10 points—“student made multiple, important contributions to the discussion,” 5
points—“student made some contributions to the discussion,” 0 points—“student made
minimal or no contribution to the discussion.” Points will then be converted into a 100-
point scale for the purpose of calculating final grades. If you have questions about how
you can improve your discussion points, please come see me. In addition, despite your
contributions, being late for discussion will negatively impact the amount of points you
can achieve for each week. You will be given a 10 minute window at the beginning of
class. After the first 10 minutes, for every additional 10 minutes you are late, you will
lose 2 discussion points. Thus, regardless of your inputs, if you are an hour late, you will
not earn any discussion points. Anyone missing class discussion for a university-verified
reason (inclement weather, documented illness, etc.) must contact me for an alternative
discussion assignment in order to make-up missed discussion points within 24 hours of
the missed class.
Leading discussion (20% of your grade): Twice over the course of the semester (for
10% each time), you will help to lead the discussion of the readings. Expectations for the
quality and level of preparation will be discussed in class. In general, the expectation is
that the student will both help her/his peers integrate the information as well as bring new
ideas or information to the discussion. Discussions will be graded on a 100-point scale.
Discussion slots will be assigned on the first day of class and cannot be changed without
the consent of the instructor.
Book review essay (10% of your grade): In addition to completing the weekly readings,
you will need to write a book review essay. Details of the assignment will be discussed in
class. Papers will be graded on a 100-point scale. Papers are due at the beginning of class
(4pm) on April 6th (even though we will not meet that day—thus, you should email me
your essay or turn it in to my campus mailbox before 4pm). You have a 10 minute “grace
period” to turn in your papers but a paper turned in at 4:11pm on the day the paper is due
will be considered late. Late papers will only be accepted under exceptional
circumstances with a verifiable excuse. If you miss turning in the essay for good reason,
contact me immediately and provide the verifiable written excuse to the Dean of Students
office in 2W38 of the MSC as soon as you return to campus. If you need an extension for
an essay, you must contact me with 24 hours of the essay due date in order to receive an
Final Presentation (20% of your grade): You must create a final presentation based on
our service learning project with Ourmountainstate.org. Presentations will be graded on a
100-point scale. Details of the project will be given out during the semester. The final
presentation is due on May 4th at 4pm and cannot be made up without a university-
Exam (20% of your grade): There will be one final cumulative final exam in this course.
This will be a “take home” exam and will be given out on April 20th. It will be due at
4pm on April 27th. Exams must be typed, Times New Roman 12 point font with one inch
margins. Additional details will be given out in class. Make-up exams will be given only
under exceptional circumstances with a verifiable excuse. If you miss an exam for good
reason, contact me immediately and provide the verifiable written excuse to the Dean of
Students office in 2W38 of the MSC as soon as you return to campus. If you need an
extension for an exam, you must contact me with 24 hours of the exam date in order to
receive an extension.
Grading: You may check on WebCT-VISTA under “My grades” for the most up to date
grade calculations. Scores will be calculated based on the follow distribution:
A = 100% - 90%
B = 89% - 80%
C = 79% - 70%
D = 69% - 60%
F = 59% - 0%
Attendance: Because the objectives of this course build on one another, it is important
that students attend class on a regular basis. Although discussion will constitute a
percentage of your grade, attendance will play a role in determining your final grade in
this course according to the following schema:
Number of Unexcused Absences Highest Grade Attainable
4 or More F
Students should assume that, unless otherwise notified, class will meet at its regularly
scheduled time. If class is being held, I will expect all assignments due to be handed in
within the first ten minutes on the day they are due. Exceptions will be made only in the
case of a University Excused Absence. The definition of these absences is as follows:
Excused absences fall into three categories: (1) university sponsored activities; (2)
absences as a result of illness or death in the family; (3) absences resulting from major
1. Academic activities including, but not limited to, performing arts, debate and
individual events, honors classes, ROTC, and departmental functions. These absences are
to be excused by the academic dean within whose unit the activity is sponsored. The
academic dean must pre-approve any notice that is sent to faculty regarding absences of
2. Athletics. These absences are to be excused by the Dean of Enrollment Management,
who must pre approve any notice sent to faculty.
3. Other university activities, including student government and student organizations.
These activities are to be approved by the Dean of Student Affairs and excused by the
Office of Academic Affairs prior to any notice being sent to faculty.
Absences As a Result of Illness or Death in the Family
1. Illness: The student who seeks an excused absence for an illness must submit written
confirmation of treatment by the attending physician or other health professional which
includes: a description of the illness/accident; date of onset; and prognosis/ability to
return to class. (A sentence on a prescription pad will not be sufficient for
documentation.) This documentation should be presented on the day the student returns
to class to the Assistant/Associate Dean of the student’s college for verification and
notification of faculty.
Notification will normally be in the form of a memo to all concerned faculty excusing
the student for a specified date or dates.
2. Death in the Immediate Family: “Immediate Family” is defined as spouse, child,
parent, legal guardian, sibling, and grandparent. Exceptions to this list can be made at the
discretion of the dean of the student’s college. The student who seeks an excused absence
for this purpose must submit one of the following to verify the relationship to the
deceased: an obituary with the student named as a relative; a funeral program with the
student named as a relative; a verification of the death and the relationship by a clergy
person or funeral home personnel (must be on letterhead stationery). The documentation
should be submitted to the Assistant/Associate Dean of the student’s college on the day
the student returns to class. The Assistant/Associate Dean will then send a memo to all
concerned faculty excusing the student for a specified date or dates.
Absences As a Result of Religious Holidays
Absences resulting from major religious holidays will be excused when the student
presents the request in advance of the absence to the Dean of Student Affairs. The dean
will indicate his/her approval on the request and send it to the Office of Academic Affairs
for final approval prior to any notice to faculty.
It is the student’s responsibility to present to all of his/her faculty the approved notice of
an absence that would be excused under the terms of this policy.
Plagiarism Policy/Academic Honesty: Cheating (of any kind) will result in a failing
grade for the assignment and a failing grade for the course. I will report any and all
cheating or academic dishonesty to Academic Affairs, and it will be made part of your
University record. In this course, students will submit papers and exams to me in the
usual way in class (or via email) and also to Turnitin.com. This is a plagiarism-prevention
service which is designed to protect everyone’s original work. Students agree that by
taking this course their required assignments must also be submitted to Turnitin.com for
review. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Guidelines for paraphrasing and quoting in
papers will be outlined in class. In order to turn in your paper, go to www.turnitin.com
1) click on “create a user profile”
2) select “student user”
3) enter the class ID (3633337) and enrollment password (poverty)
4) enter your email address
5) enter a password
6) enter your personal information
7) agree to the terms of the site
Once you have set up your profile, you will see that it is very easy to submit an
assignment. Papers will not be graded until they are submitted to Turnitin.com. Any
paper not turned in to Turnitin.com by the deadline set for the hard copy will receive a
Electronics Policy: Prior to class, please turn off all electronics (cell phones, pagers,
ipods, gameboys, etc.). Because these devices are distracting to me and to your fellow
students, laptops will be the only electronics allowed during class time; however, if you
use a laptop to take notes in class, you must sit in the first row. I will confiscate any other
electronics used during class time for the duration of that class. Additionally, if I discover
that you are using a laptop inappropriately (e.g., instant messaging, surfing, etc), you will
be barred from bringing it back to class for the remainder of the semester.
Emergency Closing and Delay Policy: In case of severe weather or other emergency,
please check with local television and radio stations in Huntington. You may also call
Public Safety at 696-4357 or the University response number at 696-3170 (see
http://www.marshall.edu/www/policy/policy_07.html for information on Marshall’s
Since our course meets once per week, if class must be cancelled because of inclement
weather or other emergencies, we will move our class discussion to WebCT. You will be
expected to contribute two original comments and respond at least twice to others’ posts
(for a minimum total of four comments) in order to receive your discussion points. Any
assignments (i.e., papers) will still be due on the date that they are assigned for. Further
instructions will be given online if we do need to move to this alternative format. Do
NOT assume that because class is cancelled that the assignments (papers and discussion)
are not due.
Social Justice: This course is committed to social justice in all of its forms. No one will
be discriminated against on the bases of race, gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation,
social class, abilities, or differing viewpoints. Each student will be viewed as a valuable
part of this class.
Policy for Students with Disabilities: Marshall University is committed to equal
opportunity in education for all students, including those with physical, learning and
psychological disabilities. University policy states that it is the responsibility of students
with disabilities to contact the Office of Disabled Student Services (DSS) in Prichard
Hall 117, phone 304 696-2271 to provide documentation of their disability. Following
this, the DSS Coordinator will send a letter to each of the student’s instructors outlining
the academic accommodation he/she will need to ensure equality in classroom
experiences, outside assignment, testing and grading. The instructor and student will meet
to discuss how the accommodation(s) requested will be provided. For more information,
please visit http://www.marshall.edu/disabled or contact Disabled Student Services
Office at Prichard Hall 11, phone 304-696-2271.
Getting the most out of this course:
1. Keep up with the course readings. Each week’s reading builds on past weeks. A large part of
your grade in the course is contingent upon understanding the readings. It will be very
difficult to make connections between the readings if you have not read all of the articles.
2. Think about how the course material relates to your own experiences. Try to draw
connections between personal experience, theory, and research.
3. Speak-up and share your ideas. The more you engage in the discussion, the more you will
learn about yourself, your colleagues, and the material.
4. Bring outside materials related to poverty, work & psychology to class. Feel free to bring
newspaper articles, advertisements, or anecdotes to class.
Week 1 INTRODUCTION
Week 2 OVERVIEW & SERVICE LEARNING
1/19 Assigned Reading: Seider, Rabinowiccz, & Gillmor, 2010
Week 3 ATTRIBUTIONS FOR POVERTY & “OUTSIDERS” VIEWS
1/26 Assigned Reading: Bullock, Williams, & Limbert, 2003
Week 4 WORK IN THE US
2/2 Assigned Reading: Shulman, 2005 (Introduction to end of Chapter 4)
Week 5 WORK IN THE US (CONT.)
2/9 Assigned Reading: Shulman, 2005 (Chapter 5 through end of book)
Week 6 CHILDREN IN POVERTY
2/16 Assigned Reading: Weinger, 2000
Week 7 SCHOOLS & ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT
2/23 Assigned Reading: Croizet &Claire, 1998
Week 8 MOTHERS & WELFARE
3/2 Assigned Reading: Kalil & Danziger, 2000
Week 9 MEN & POVERTY
3/9 Assigned Reading: Lankenau, 1999
Liu, Stinson, Hernandez, Shepard, & Haag, 2009
Week 10 GENDER & MENTAL HEALTH
3/16 Assigned Reading: Belle & Doucet, 2003
Riger, Staggs & Schewe, 2004
Week 11 SPRING BREAK
3/23 ****NO CLASS
Week 12 SOCIAL SITUATIONS & POWERLESSNESS
3/30 Assigned Reading: Haney, 2006
Geis & Ross, 1998
Week 13 SERVICE LEARNING DAY (Work independently on SL projects)
4/6 ****NO CLASS
****BOOK REVIEW ESSAYS DUE VIA EMAIL BY 4PM
Week 14 COLLECTIVE ACTION
4/13 Assigned Reading: Abramovitz, 2001
Week 15 THE “AMERICAN DREAM” & PUBLIC POLICY REVISITED
4/20 Assigned Reading: TBA: Assorted Public Policy reports/key findings
based on interests of class and class discussions
Week 16 FINAL EXAM DUE & PRACTICE FINAL PRESENTATIONS
Week 17 FINAL PRESENTATIONS
Other Important Dates: March 18th is the last day to drop this course and April 29th is the
last day to completely withdraw for the semester.
Reading List Citations
Seider, S.C., Rabinowicz, S.A., Gillmor, S.C. (2010). Changing American college
students’ conceptions of poverty through community service learning. Analyses of
Social Issues and Public Policy, 10, 215-236.
United States Census Bureau (2010). Income, poverty, and health insurance coverage in
the United States: 2009. (Current Population Reports No. P60–238). Retrieved
January 8, 2011, http://www.census.gov/prod/2010pubs/p60-238.pdf
Bullock, H.E., Williams, W.R., & Limbert, W.M. (2003). Predicting support for welfare
policies: The impact of attributions and beliefs about inequality. Journal of
Poverty, 7, 3, 35-56.
Gilens, M. (1996). Race and poverty in America: Public misperceptions and the
American news media. Public Opinion Quarterly, 60, 515-541.
Week 4 & 5
Shulman, B. (2005). The betrayal of work: How low-wage jobs fail 30 million Americans
and their families. New York: The New Press.
Weinger, S. (2000). Economic status: Middle class and poor children’s views. Children
& Society, 14, 135-146.
Evans, G.W. (2004). The environment of childhood poverty. American Psychologist, 59,
Croizet, J. & Claire, T. (1998). Extending the concept of stereotype threat to social class:
The intellectual underperformance of students from low socioeconomic
backgrounds. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 24, 558-594.
Hochschild, J.L. (2003). Social class in public schools. Journal of Social Issues, 59, 821-
Kalil, A., & Danziger, S.K. (2000). How teen mothers are faring under welfare reform.
Journal of Social Issues, 56, 775-798.
Scarbrough, J.W. (2001). Welfare mother’s reflections on personal responsibility.
Journal of Social Issues, 57, 2, 261-276.
Lankenau, S.E. (1999). Stronger than dirt: Public humiliation and status enhancement
among panhandlers. Journal of contemporary ethnography, 28, 3, 288-318.
Liu, W.M., Stinson, R., Hernandez, J., Shepard, S., & Haag, S. (2009). A qualitative
examination of masculinity, homelessness and social class among men in a
transitional shelter. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 10, 131-148.
Belle, D. & Doucet, J. (2003). Poverty, inequality, and discrimination as sources of
depression among US women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 27, 101-113.
Riger, S., Staggs, S.L., & Schewe, P. (2004). Intimate Partner Violence as an Obstacle
to Employment Among Mothers Affected by Welfare Reform. Journal of Social
Issues, 60, 801-818.
No assignment (Spring Break)
TBA—Public policy briefs
Geis, K.J., & Ross, C.E. (1998). A new look at urban alientation: The effect of
neighborhood disorder on perceived powerlessness. Social Psychology Quarterly,
Haney, T.J. (2007). “Broken windows” and self-esteem: Subjective understandings of
neighborhood poverty and disorder. Social Science Research, 36, 968-994.
No assignment (Service Learning week)
Abramovitz, M. (2001). Learning from the history of poor and working-class women’s
activism. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science,
Yeigh, S. (1996). Grassroots organizing with homeless people: A participatory research
approach. Journal of Social Issues, 52, 111-121.