Critical Research Methods in Puerto Rican & Latinx Studies

Critical Research Methods in Puerto Rican & Latinx Studies

PRLS 3340: Fall 2023 | Prof. Jasmine Mitchell


Cover image above: Original artwork by Natalia S. Flores

Official Course Bulletin Description

Examine critical research issues in Puerto Rican and Latinx studies. Introduce students to a variety of ways of thinking about “knowledge” and to specific ways of knowing and making arguments in Puerto Rican and Latinx studies using key humanistic, social science, and “interdisciplinary methodologies”.

PRLS: Course Description

What are some of the ways to study Latinx populations, cultures, and issues? The course seeks to develop in students an ability to apply interdisciplinary concepts, methodology, and theories in examining the issues and experiences of Latinx groups. The course will delve into the strategies/tools available for conducting research in Latinx Studies. The culmination of the course will result in each student identifying a research question, relevant methodologies, and an understanding of the scope of their research problem in relation to Latinx Studies.  

Grading Schema

  • 15% Participation
  • 40% Reading Responses (4)
  • 5% Co-Facilitation
  • 5% Research Topic and Questions
  • 10% Literature Review
  • 20% Research Design Proposal
  • 5% Reflection on Research


You are expected to attend class, arrive on time and participate in an informed and consistent matter. Since you cannot participate if you are not present, participation is comprised of punctual attendance and active engagement in class discussions. To be actively engaged you should be able to make thoughtful comments throughout each class session that reflect that you have done the assigned reading or viewing, that you are grappling with the implications of the reading or text and that you can respond effectively in classroom debates about different interpretations. You can also ask questions if you are not sure about how to interpret the reading. The quality rather than quantity of participation is important to keep in mind. Participation also requires listening and engaging with your peers. Cell phone use, texting, video games, etc. during class time will be noted, and will negatively influence your participation grade. Class participation will be graded on discussion in class in small groups, open forums, online discussions, and in-class writing assignments. Participation also includes responding to peer assignments. A self-evaluation is also required as part of your participation at the end of the course.

Notes on Class Participation

This course is an interactive class and therefore requires participation from each student. Each student is expected to come to class prepared to discuss the assigned materials. In order to participate in class, you must be both present and prepared.  Understanding that many students have different ways of learning and participating, I will provide you with various ways to participate (i.e. small group discussion, open forum, class presentations, in- class writing assignments, etc.).  I strongly encourage all students to share their perspectives in class even if such perspectives might not be popular with the majority of the class. Our classroom is a safe environment where ideas will be exchanged and debated.  However, many of the issues we cover in class might be controversial or emotional for some members of the class.  It is therefore, essential to show respect for the classroom community.  This showing of respect of your classmates is a requirement for the class. Class discussion should be conducted in a mature, civil, and professional manner.  I will not tolerate any personal attacks, name-calling, or demeaning remarks. If members of the class want to make comments that they do not want repeated outside of the classroom, they can express these wishes for the class to agree not to repeat these remarks.  

Reading Responses

(total of 4 for the semester beginning Week 5)

In 2 pages, write a response:

  1. What are the main arguments of the article (s)?
  2. What are the methods and the theories utilized?
  3. What is the evidence utilized?
  4. Are their approaches compelling
  5. Using the text as a springboard, what generative arguments can be made that could be relevant to your own research interests? If the methodologies and theoretical orientations do not overlap with your own research interests, then begin to draw contrasts and begin to illuminate what methodological & theoretical questions you have.
  6. What is one item of constructive criticism about their chosen method(s) that impacts your own engagement with such an approach? 


At the beginning of the semester you will choose one class session to co-facilitate a discussion of the readings for twenty minutes. You will work in a pair or a group of three. This will help you practice your analysis of scholarly readings in a supportive setting and see how the class is interpreting the readings. In a group, you will provide a very brief overview of the readings, a list of key concepts and discussion questions to pose to your classmates. You can bring additional materials to can include video, music, articles, additional readings, activity, etc to enhance the discussion. The format of the conversation/discussion is up to you. Your group should email discussion questions to me by 11am the day before you are scheduled to lead the discussion.

Research Design Proposal 

The Research Plan represents a semester-long project of developing an 8-10 page research prospectus. The components of this project include: 

  1. Identifying a research question with a theoretical framework and research design; 
  2. Writing a concise literature review; 
  3. Providing and receiving feedback with your colleagues; 
  4. Delivering a 7-minute presentation on your project; 
  5. Submitting a finalized research plan 

Reflection on Research

You will develop a reflective project, in a approved format of your choosing (i.e. writing, digital, video, podcast, etc), that thoughtfully explores your research experience in the course.