(Methods of Social Research) Section 4 CSUS Catalog Course Description An examination of quantitative and qualitative methods of social work. Includes problem formulation, selection of various conceptual frameworks, research designs, sampling, collecting data, experimental design and computer technology. Instructor’s Extended Version of the Course Description This course is designed to enhance students’ knowledge, understanding and appreciation of research methods and techniques. Emphasis is placed on strategies for conducting research that examines the strengths, capacities, beliefs, attitudes and values of human populations and social work practice. The course is structured to help students attain proficiency in the methods and the processes of research in order to evolve as accountable professionals.
Students will acquire the ability to develop and analyze outcome measures rooted in the knowledge of scientific research methods. They are expected to develop competencies in the overall research process involving the concepts of measurement, design, analysis and decision making - both quantitative and qualitative. For this purpose students are expected to identify and state a research question related to client/group/agency/community outcome grounded in social work practice, substantiate the research problem through appropriate review of literature, and demonstrate sensitivity to issues of ethnicity, cultural diversity and ethical considerations in social work practice and research.
The content of the course and the reading materials from sources adhering to the Council for Social Work Education Curriculum policy standards will help students develop the necessary competencies for evaluation of social work practice and for conducting social work research in general. Students will learn and demonstrate proficiency in qualitative and quantitative research methodologies and appreciate the major considerations involved in the quantitative and qualitative aspects of the social work research.
Throughout the semester, students will be motivated to be active participants in the process of mastering the problem formulation, acquiring skills in determining the right research design, designing ethically sound studies, developing appropriate data collection tools, collecting the right kind of data, concise analysis of data inclusive of statistical procedures, drawing methodologically sound conclusions, scientific research reports writing and above all to evolve as informed consumers of research knowledge in the social work domain as well as published research materials in related disciplines.
Course Objectives & Outcomes:
When students complete the expected requirements of this course, they will be able to:
1. Develop a knowledge base that includes the capacity to identify and explain the fundamental principles of social work research. This includes identifying situations that are amenable to scientific inquiry and articulate research questions with proficiency in developing and stating abstract and operational hypotheses relevant to the research question and the knowledge base.
This objective will be demonstrated by the required research proposal using one of the following methods: grounded theory, ethnography, and case study methods, other exploratory methods, single subject designs, experimental group designs and/or survey research methods
2. Formulate problems into researchable questions, identify problems of research that has direct relevance to multilevel practice with people in vulnerable life conditions and select a research design appropriate for the context of the practice setting and examine the design in relation to the most common threats to internal validity.
This objective will be demonstrated by performance in the comprehensive midterm examination, group discussions, written summary of readings and the project proposal
3. Understand the relevance of quantitative and qualitative research methods and appreciate the contextual use of these methods in evaluating significance of research questions for practice and policy advocacy purposes.
Students will be able to appreciate the importance of research in social work practice at the micro and macro levels by actively participating in class discussions and clarifications during lectures.
4. Utilize the knowledge of sampling required for empirical research in social work practice in developing a plan for sample selection in the research proposal with the required understanding of the importance of ethical and political considerations in social work research.
Students will understand and utilize the process of obtaining informed consent for their master’s thesis/project. This will be demonstrated by the required 15 page project proposal.
5. Develop data collection instruments, taking into consideration the connection between the research question, sample/ population to be studied and the nature of data to be collected and become proficient in selecting a means of measurement of variables needed for the examination of the research question(s) and to be able to decide:
(a) Whether the variables should be measured qualitatively or quantitatively
(b) What method should be employed for observation - data collection?
(c) The reliability and validity of a chosen method of measuring the variables.
This objective will be demonstrated by the use of appropriate measurement instruments in the research proposal and presentations in class and participation in-group discussions.
6. Collect, classify and analyze data using statistical methods and logically derived techniques, demonstrating proficiency in parametric and non-parametric statistics.
This objective will be demonstrated by drawing conclusions by careful study of a given data set and performing the above functions in the context of the given data set.
7. Interpret the data and communicate the results to relevant audience, and draw conclusions for the purposes of empirically documenting the effectiveness of new and existing methods of practice with varying client population.
Students will demonstrate the achievement of this objective by in class presentations of critique of published research studies after discussing and critiquing such published research studies in small group discussions designed specifically for this purpose.
8. Know the process of evaluating practice and becoming accountable professionals by learning evaluation research methods and discussing studies focused on single subject, group designs and program evaluation and relating these studies to their experiences in their field placement.
This objective will be achieved through a short paper on evaluating a component of their agency-field placement such as practice with a client, family or secondary groups.
Kreuger, L.W. & Neumann, W.L. (2006). Social work research methods: Qualitative and quantitative applications. Boston: Pearson Publications Inc. at Allyn & Bacon
Szafran, F. R. (1999). Social Science research: A cross section of journal articles for discussion and evaluation. Los Angeles: Pyrczak Publishing.
Social work research and practice: An introduction
1. Descriptive knowledge
2. Predictive knowledge
3. Prescriptive knowledge
4. Social work scientific research process
5. The environment for social work research process
6. The need for social work research
Discussion: Identify different sources of knowledge based on your life experiences and differentiate those sources from the scientific method of obtaining knowledge.
Answer the following questions:
What are your fears about taking a research class?
What do you hope to learn from this class?
What experiences have you had that might help in this class?
What are the problems that might develop when a profession’s knowledge base and research lag behind its practice?
Develop a list of problems and questions that you think need to be researched.
What stereotypes you have about research?
Kreuger & Newman: Chapter 1: Science and Social work research
Chapter 2: Dimensions of Social work research
Class 2: February 3, 2009
Social work research problems and learning the process of problem “researchability”
1. Identifying research considerations in a social problem
2. Setting research priorities
3. Identifying the researchable problem
4. Developing methodologically sound research questions
5. Application of these concepts in qualitative research
Reflective Activity: Identify a social problem and based on the first session and class discussion set research priorities, identify the problem that is measurable, explain the process of obtaining a literature review for the research problem and make a preliminary statement of pertinent research questions. Use this exercise as planning ground for the proposal assignment.
Kreuger & Newman: Chapter 3: Theory and research
Chapter 4: The meaning of methodology
Pyrczak, F., & Bruce, R. (1999). “Writing simple hypotheses”. In Writing empirical research reports. Los Angeles: Pyrczak Publishing.
Royse, D. Read the chapter titled “Qualitative research”. In Research Methods in Social Work. Chicago: Nelson Hall
Kirkpatrick, L.A., & Feeney, C. B. Frequency distributions and descriptive statistics. A simple guide to SPSS for Windows. Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.
Class 3: February 10, 2009
Basic considerations & factors affecting social work research
4. Ethical considerations
5. Political Considerations
6. Personal and social values
Kreuger & Newman: Chapter 5: The ethics and politics of social work research
Royse, D. Read the chapter titled, “Ethical thinking and research” In Research Methods in Social Work. Chicago: Nelson Hall
Kirkpatrick, L.A., & Feeney, C. B. One sample t-Test and Independent samples t-Test. A simple guide to SPSS for Windows. Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.
Class 4: February 17, 2009
1. Focused research questions
2. Forms of hypotheses: Logic and the linear and non-linear paths
3. Types of relationship expressed in hypothesis
4. Research environment appropriate to single system designs
5. Potentials for testing hypotheses using single system designs
Kreuger & Newman: Chapter 6: Qualitative and quantitative research designs
Chapter 16: Reviewing the literature and writing a report
Recommended Articles for Reading:
Hughes, M. (1999). Turning points in the lives of young inner city men forgoing destructive criminal behaviors: A qualitative study. Social Work Research, 22, 143-151.
Baumrind, D. (1985). Research using intentional deception: Ethical issues revisited. American Psychologist, 40(2), 165-174.
Gamble V. (1993). A legacy of district: African Americans and medical research. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 9, 35-38.
Moen, M. (1990). Ronald Reagan and the social issues: Rhetorical support for the Christian right In Szafran, F. R. (1999). Social Science research: A cross section of journal articles for discussion and evaluation. Los Angeles: Pyrczak Publishing.
Caplan, A.L. (1992). Twenty years after the legacy of the Tuskegee syphilis study: When evil intrudes. Hastings Center report. 22(6), 29-32.
Gamble V. (1993). A legacy of district: African Americans and medical research. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 9, 35-38.
Humphreys, L. (1979). Tearoom trade: Impersonal sex in public
places. New York: Aldine
Pierce, K. (1989). Sex-role stereotyping of children on television: A content analysis of the roles and attributes of child characters. In Szafran, F. R. (1999). Social Science research: A cross section of journal articles for discussion and evaluation. Los Angeles: Pyrczak Publishing.
Class 5: February 24, 2009
Introduction to SPSS: Complete the first lab assignment in class
Kreuger & Newman: Chapter 15: Analysis of qualitative data
Take Quiz #1 Quiz 1 covers the required reading material and the PowerPoint slides for units 1 and 2
Class 6, March 3, 2009
Research designs for Group Comparisons
1. Research designs as a continuum
2. Explanatory - Experimental designs
3. Pre experimental and Quasi experimental designs
8. Types of measurement- the need for understanding this concept
Kreuger & Newman: Chapter s 7 & 8: Quantitative and qualitative measurement and sampling
Class 8, March 17, 2009
1. Collection methods
3. Types of data
4. Sources of data
5. Methods of quantification
6. Scales and Questionnaires
Class 9, March 24, 2009
Mid Term Examination
Mid Term Examination is a comprehensive exam comprising multiple choice and short essay questions. All the topics covered from the beginning of the semester until March 17, 2009 need to be reviewed to do well in the exam.
March 30-April 5 University Observes Spring recess Class 10: April 7, 2009
1. Explanation of the need for sampling
2. Study population
4. Sampling error and sampling bias
5. Types of sampling
6. Cross sectional versus longitudinal survey research
7. The importance of deciding whether the design served the research problem under consideration appropriately
Kreuger & Newman: Chapter 10: Survey research
Pyrczak, F., & Bruce, R. (1999). Writing research purposes, objectives and questions (pp. 19-25). In Writing empirical research reports. Los Angeles: Pyrczak Publishing.
Fabianic, D. (1991).Crime and the magic kingdom. In Szafran, F. R. (1999). Social Science research: A cross section of journal articles for discussion and evaluation. Los Angeles: Pyrczak Publishing.
Brown, K.W., Miller, P.T., Jenkins, L.R., & Rhodes, A. W. (1991) The human costs of "Giving the kid another chance ".International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 35 (4): 292-302. In Szafran, F. R. Social Science research: A cross section of journal articles for discussion and evaluation. Los Angeles: Pyrczak Publishing.
Class 11, April 14, 2009: Lab exercises-statistical analysis of data
Kreuger & Newman: Chapter 11& 12: Data analysis
Pyrczak, F., & Bruce, R. (1999). Writing method sections (pp. 63-72). In Writing empirical research reports. Los Angeles: Pyrczak Publishing.
Alexander, S.C. et al. (1990). A measure of risk taking for young adolescents : Reliability and validity assessments. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 19(6). 559-569. In Szafran, F. R. (1999). Social Science research: A cross section of journal articles for discussion and evaluation. Los Angeles: Pyrczak Publishing.
Jorgensen, E.D., & Jorgensen, B.C. (1992). Age and white racial attitudes: National surveys, 1972-1989. In Szafran, F. R. (1999). Social Science research: A cross section of journal articles for discussion and evaluation. Los Angeles: Pyrczak Publishing.
Class 12, April 21, 2009
Need for program evaluation
Types of program evaluation
Conditions for program evaluations
Kreuger & Newman: Chapter 14
Class 13, April 28, 2009
Program Evaluation Continued Recommended Readings:
Pyrczak, F., & Bruce, R. (1999). Writing definitions (pp. 47-56). In Writing empirical research reports. Los Angeles: Pyrczak Publishing.
Jedlika, D. (1991). Ethnic consistency in remarriage. Family Perspective, 25 (3): 237-245. In Szafran, F. R. (1999). Social Science research: A cross section of journal articles for discussion and evaluation. Los Angeles: Pyrczak Publishing.
Pyrczak, F., & Bruce, R. (1999). Writing assumptions, limitations and delimitations (pp. 57-62). In Writing empirical research reports. Los Angeles: Pyrczak Publishing.
McGovern, M. (1990). Sensitivity and reciprocity in the play of adolescent mothers and young fathers with their infants. Family Relations, 39: 427-431. In Szafran, F. R. (1999). Social Science research: A cross section of journal articles for discussion and evaluation. Los Angeles: Pyrczak Publishing.
Research Proposal self- assessment
Take Quiz #3
Quiz #3 will cover all the required readings since quiz 2 including the PowerPoint slides.
Rough draft of individual research proposal due .
Class 14, May 5, 2009
Drawing conclusions from the research process
1. Applicability, Problems and limitations
2. Reporting the findings
Lab exercises Kirkpatrick, L.A., & Feeney, C. B. Two-Way mixed ANOVA (pp. 65-68). A simple guide to SPSS for Windows. Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company. Kirkpatrick, L.A., & Feeney, C. B. Correlations . A simple guide to SPSS for Windows. Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.
Royse, D. Please read the chapter on “ Qualitative Research” In Research Methods in Social Work. Chicago: Nelson Hall. Post answers to the discussion questions
Royse, D. Writing research reports and journal. In Research Methods in Social Work (3rd ed.).Chicago: Nelson Hall
Kirkpatrick, L.A., & Feeney, C. B. Chi-Square test of independence. A simple guide to SPSS for Windows. Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.
Discussion: Critiquing of published research studies in the context of appropriateness of research questions/ hypotheses, sampling, research design, tools of data collection, methods of data collection, analytical tools used, relevance of conclusions drawn and contribution to the social work knowledge, practice and policy.
Student Presentations of the project proposals with special focus on the following items-will occur throughout the semester:
* Objectives of the project and function
* Relationship of the projects to understanding research in social work practice
* Types of project and its relevance to the appreciation of research
* Relevance of the project in understanding the limitations in social work research
Teaching Philosophy and Methods
I consider my teaching role in the context of a reflective practitioner who continually assesses the impact of my teaching on my students with regard to their enthusiasm and choices for further learning.
I purposefully and actively present situations that act as catalysts to my students’ learning. I consider it my responsibility to provide my students with opportunities to grow professionally in a consistent manner. I believe in fostering a loving and unstrained learning environment in my class where the relationships among students and with me are designed to be inspirational forces for further learning. It is my hope that when students leave my class they would leave it with an aspiration for continuous learning and mastery of activities that are part of their work as professionals. I consistently endeavor and do act with fairness, total respect for my students as persons, their time and an inherent faith in their ability to excel.
I will certainly provide the needed structure and framework for learning through my lectures augmented by Power Point slides, films, articles placed on the webCT and Locus sites and handouts. My teaching strategies include well planned lectures, reflection, active listening, and stimulating students to engage in critical thinking while participating in class discussion, assignments, group and individual consultation and the discussions posted in a regularly maintained WebCT site specifically for this class.
It is my hope that you will avoid the following behavioral indicators of failure to complete the required assignments:
Failure to bring assigned readings, exercises, or assignments to class
Expecting the group members to do your work
Trying to dominate the discussion with irrelevant comments to compensate for the failure to complete assignments on time
Reading the text or assigned reading materials in class
Failure to actively participate actively in class discussions or class activities
Disturbing other students with comments that are distractive to / or demeaning of fellow students
Students are required to:
Take initiative with a reflective attitude and appreciation for potential for learning.
Seek opportunities for learning in consultation with the instructor, community personnel, field instructors and fellow students.
Develop creative responses to the class assignments and challenge the instructor respectfully for further learning.
Have a plan for enhancing one’s own learning through exemplary professional conduct and contributions in class, such as respect for class activities as manifested by the enthusiasm for learning and the assignments
Engage in rational problem-solving and courteous interaction with the instructor and other students, with a keen respect for the great power that lies within each human being.
Students experiencing difficulties with class materials, assignments, exams, and/or other aspects of the course, must seek assistance from the instructor and such students are ensured that whatever assistance may be required from the instructor will be provided with utmost respect for the student and his/her learning process.
The University rules regarding academic honesty will be enforced. These rules are outlined in the current university catalogue. Students who are unfamiliar with them should review them or consult the instructor.
If you have a documented disability that affects your participation in this course and/or if you have a disabling condition which requires special consideration, educational services and specific arrangements for examinations and assignments for this class, please contact me and provide the necessary documentation from the Office of Disability to submit your request.
The course grade will be determined from the grades secured by the student in each of the following six components:
Mid-term Exam: 25%
Data Analysis Exercises 20%
Research Proposal 20% May 12, 2009
The Quality of Participation
in Group Discussions 10%
Class participation: 10%.
Be prepared to review the entire syllabus on the first day of class. This is your learning agreement. You are the master of your learning. I am your guide and an inspirational force in this process. Maybe you’ll hear me repeat the following throughout the semester: “Time flies like paper in the wind”! - (Tom Petty). Enjoy and learn.