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Unit 3 Overview

Quantitative Data to Enhance Your Research

Now that you have reviewed the scientific method and have strengthened your understanding of the importance of unbiased and objective reporting of information in developing your research project, it’s time to focus on a deeper examination of how to evaluate data: specifically, quantitative data that can give you a real understanding of the significance of the event. In addition, you’ll be reviewing research strategies that will help you to find the highest quality information in the most efficient manner possible. You’ll conclude this unit by preparing a project proposal in a PowerPoint format that will set up the structure for creating your final project.


Unit Outcomes

  1. Analyze examples of quantitative data

  2. Apply critical thinking skills to identify high quality resources

  3. Create a PowerPoint presentation detailing your process for completing your final project

Course Outcomes practiced in this unit:

LI499-1 Create a project outline, plan, and timeline using scientific methodology demonstrating the achievement of the General Education Literacy Outcomes: Mathematics (GEL-2) and Science (GEL-3)

LI499-2 Apply appropriate theories and concepts to personal, social, and organizational issues in a formal research project statement demonstrating the achievement of BSLI-3 (Professional Competencies), BSLI-4 (Cultural and Diversity Awareness) and the General Education Literacy Outcomes: Communication (GEL-1) and Critical Thinking (GEL-8)

LI499-4 Evaluate the use of contemporary tools and technologies to communicate concepts effectively in diverse social and professional settings demonstrating the achievement of BSLI-3 (Professional Competencies) and the General Education Literacy Outcome: Critical Thinking (GEL-8)

LI499-5 Utilize primary and secondary sources of data and information demonstrating achievement of the General Education Literacy Outcome: Research and Information (GEL-6)

What do you have to do in this unit?

Following are summaries of the activities you need to complete this week. You can find these activities in this order in the left hand navigation.

  • Reading
    This week's readings will explore quantitative data and gives examples of it as well as lead you in a review of some effective research strategies.

  • Discussion
    Our discussion will focus on using critical thinking skills to evaluate resources and locating quantitative data for your research topic.

  • Seminar
    This week's seminar will review examples of quantitative data and reflect on how it will add credibility to your research.

  • Project
    You will create a research proposal based on the scientific method in a PowerPoint format.

Click here for a PDF that you can print or save

Your readings in this course are in PDF format. Click the PDF button to access everything you need for your reading this week.

Kaplan University College of Arts and Sciences Page 1 LI 499 READINGS Unit 3

Reading 1 - Quantitative Data

Quantitative data is research and information that can be measured or expressed with numbers in some way and, therefore, can be compared to other data. For example, the percentage of deaths from smoking in a given year is quantitative data. Likewise, increases in temperature from the beginning of the month to the end of the month as well as the cost of living increase in wages are also examples of quantitative data. Sometimes data cannot be expressed in quantitative form. For example, volunteering in a children’s hospital ward may increase your sense of purpose in life or you may gain valuable insight gained from interviewing a World War II veteran. While this data can be just as valuable as quantitative data, it is often difficult to express in terms of an absolute value, such as a number. Review "Qualitative vs. Quantitative Data" from the Algebra Lesson Page sponsored by the Oswego City School District's Regents Exam Prep Center for more information.

For your final project, you are required to include at least one example of quantitative data expressed in a statistic (numbers, percentages, etc.) or through a visual graphic (graphs, bar charts, etc.). For example, including a line graph indicating the rise in suicides in the year following the assassination of Pres. John F. Kennedy or the percentage of African Americans that attended Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous March on Washington D.C. would fulfill this requirement. The use of quantitative data can greatly enhance your research as it adds credibility to your work and is an objective representation of how an event affected society. However, keep in mind that interpreting statistics requires the use of critical thinking skills as you must be sure you are analyzing your data correctly and must be careful of concluding a cause-and-effect relationship, when simply a correlation exists. For example, if the number of suicides increased the year following the death of JFK, does this necessarily mean that the event (JFK’s assassination) led to the suicides? Or is it possible there might be other factors that contributed to the effect? Read “Using Statistics” from KU Writing Center for guidelines on using statistics.

Reading 2 - Research Strategies

One of the most important keys to your success in developing your final project paper is to get off to a good start and develop good research strategies. After all, any research paper is only as good as the research you utilized to write it! Of course, you must first select an appropriate topic that offers you enough depth to fulfill the criteria of your project (exploring the effects on human behavior, expression, and the ethical issues surrounding the event). You must consider this as you select your topic. Hopefully, because you conducted your preliminary research and reflected on some possible ways to explore these issues in the Unit 2 discussion question, you feel confident in your decision! Be sure to discuss your topic with your instructor if you have any doubts. Kaplan University College of Arts and Sciences Page 2 LI 499 READINGS Unit 3

While it’s fairly likely that any significant historical/cultural event is going to have many options for exploring these issues, you want to be sure you were able to locate numerous resources that will help you to analyze them and that you feel comfortable (and interested!) in developing this research. After all, the best research project is going to be one that you are genuinely interested in and feel you can learn from.

This being said, we now turn our attention to strategies for conducting your research. An important step in the research process is being sure you fully understand how to focus your topic. Malcolm X’s leadership in the Nation of Islam is a wide topic that provides many opportunities to explore human behaviors, human expression, and even ethical issues. In fact, there are probably many options to explore in this context. It is appropriate to focus this topic to a more manageable project by considering such details as what aspects of his leadership you want to address. You may consider how his actions affected African-Americans, how his actions affected political leaders, how the media responded to him, the response of the Civil Rights Movement, etc. Perhaps you want to explore all behaviors in this context. This may be possible, but you will have to focus what you intend to present in your project so that it is balanced and doesn’t only paint a “one-sided” picture.

In conducting your research, be sure to take the following steps

1. Solidify Your Topic
This includes making sure you understand how to focus your topic enough to address how people responded to the event through their behavior (actions, words, etc.). You will also consider how the event resulted in various forms of human expression (art, literature, fashion, movements, etc.). You will want to reflect on possible ethical issues related to the topic. Keep an open mind as you begin your research, but also always have these three issues noted in front of you so you are always thinking about how you will incorporate them into your paper.

2. Plan Your Strategy
You want to make sure you have a good strategy that is going to yield you the best research results. For example, having some key words that represent your topic and knowing how to vary them when conducting database searches are going to result in better responses. For example, in researching the Disco Era of the 1970s you might consider terms like “Disco,” “1970s” “Seventies,” “"Disco Clubs," "Disco Drugs," "Fashion,” etc. Experimenting with a variety of search terms will bring up even more possible ideas as you start to review your finds. You must apply your critical thinking skills as you review the responses to each search you do to consider how you can further refine your search to produce the results that will support your thesis.

Because this is an academic paper, you want to be sure you have a variety of high-quality resources. Ten different web sites will not be appropriate for the requirements of this project. Remember, you need resources that will yield quantitative data and academic articles from scholarly journals. While you certainly can find some good information on the web, you do not want to limit yourself. Be sure you utilize the Electronic Articles database in the KU Library (University of Alabama at Huntsville, or UAH) and review the list of academic databases located there. A good database to use in the KU Library might be the Academic Search Elite, which provides titles across a variety of field areas. Depending on your topic, some of the other search databases might also be helpful—such as the Funk and Wagnall’s Encyclopedia database, the ERIC database (for educational topics) or MasterFILE Premier for general interest topics. Remember, library assistants are able to help you to use these databases by calling 3.

Evaluate Your Sources
Once you’ve located some sources, you now need to be sure which sources are high-quality and will provide you with valuable information. Your paper is only as good as the research you use and you will want to be sure that the author of any work you decide to use is reputable. Authors who are experts in their field will often hold a PhD or be a long-time scholar or even professor. Books or websites that are looking to sell you something may contain a lot of bias and may have an underlying motivation in reporting information selectively that can be deceiving. Web research, in particular, can be misleading and you need to screen web sites carefully. Some tips you might consider when reviewing web resources are;

• Does the site look professional? Does the site sound objective or biased?

• Is there an author associated with the article/web page? Can you learn more about the author to evaluate his/her credibility?

• Is it a news agency, information portal page, government site or educational site? Some examples include CNN.com, MSNBC.com, Yahoo.com, any site that ends in .edu or .gov. These tend to be more reputable sites.

• Be careful of using personal web pages or blogs or sites with many popups and ads. These sites can have an underlying motive to simply invite you to buy things.

• Be careful of activist sites or political organizations. While they can provide factual information, you want to be sure that you also review a countering perspective for balance.

• Any kind of pay-for-access sites should be carefully screened as well.
4. Use & Document Your Sources
Once you have located some valuable, credible resources, you will have to think about the best way to use them in your paper. For example, you may find a powerful direct quote that really drives home the significant effect of the event. Or, you may determine to paraphrase a particular statistic that supports your objective. It’s important to always cite quoted or paraphrased information, and you typically will want to explain or analyze the information you cite. For example, explain the significance of a particular quote or how the research you have found really supports your point of view. Don’t make the assumption that your reader will understand why you included the information.

You will be using the format of the American Psychological Association (also known as “APA Format”). This is a national standard for how your paper is presented and while there are many other formats (such as Modern Language Association or the Chicago Manual of Style), Kaplan typically makes use of APA format. You should have addressed APA format in great detail in your composition courses, but for a review see “An Introduction to APA Citation” from the KU Writing Center. Remember, failure to effectively cite your sources is considered plagiarism and will result in strict penalties possibly including failure of the course or expulsion, so you want to be sure you are quite clear on appropriately citing sources. If you have any questions or concerns, you can review “Plagiarism- What It Is and How to Avoid It” in the KU Writing Center. Kaplan University College of Arts and Sciences Page 4 LI 499 READINGS Unit 3

Reading 3 - Top Ten Mistakes in Academic Research

Writing an academic paper does not have to be exhausting! If you plan accordingly and have a good process in place, you can proceed in a logical, timely manner that keeps you on track. Later in this unit, you will be preparing a proposal detailing your research plan, so this will help you to stay on target. But before you do this, you will want to be sure that you avoid unnecessary challenges and that you are as efficient as you can be with your time and resources.

Read “Top Ten Mistakes in Academic Research” from the KU Writing Center.

Reading 4 - The Research Proposal

Your project will likely be an informative essay as you explore the significant historical/cultural event you selected and analyze how it affected society through behaviors, expression and ethical issues. For some students, you may find the topic is particularly powerful and you may advocate a particular position or try to persuade your reader of a particular perspective as you develop your paper. Regardless, you will find that the best approach to completing this assignment is one that you have carefully planned. The Unit 3 proposal will help you to do just that. But in order to complete your proposal, you will want to be sure you follow an effective process.

Read "Writing an Informative Essay" from the KU Writing Center for some background on an effective process.

Seminar Topics:

  1. What is quantitative data? How can it be represented?

  2. How does quantitative data support your research? Where can you find quantitative data? What are some examples of it?

  3. What are some helpful research strategies to consider as you continue your research and consider your thesis?

To participate in seminar for this unit, complete one of the two available options:

Option 1: Participate in a synchronous seminar discussion. You are strongly encouraged to participate in the live seminar for this week’s discussion if possible. Many students find this live discussion very helpful because your instructor will clarify the seminar information and your classmates may pose questions that you also have about the material.

Option 2: If you are unable to attend the live seminar, complete the Option 2 written assignment that follows. Your responses to the questions above should be composed in complete sentences and paragraphs and be 100-200 words in length. APA style is required.

You should create your seminar responses in MS Word. Save your answers and submit them to the Unit 3: Seminar Dropbox. The Dropbox is located at the top of this class on the blue toolbar. Be sure to complete all questions to earn your seminar points.

For more information on submitting your work to the Dropbox, click the Dropbox Guide button.

For this project, you will be creating a proposal for your final project detailing the process you intend to follow. This proposal will be in a PowerPoint format.

In Unit 2, we explored how the scientific method can be used as a model for conducting research on your topic. You probably recall the process that was derived from the scientific method, but for a quick review, click the Reminder button.

Keeping the scientific method process in mind, create a proposal for completing your project to be presented in a PowerPoint format. Some of the tasks/headings you might include in your proposal are:

  • Project Topic

  • Draft Potential Thesis

  • Review of Preliminary Research

  • Fine Tuning of Topic/Thesis (Brainstorming Key Points)

  • Continued Research

  • Outlining

  • First-Half Draft

  • Second-Half Draft

  • Revising Stage

  • Peer Review

  • Final Draft

Your PowerPoint proposal should detail the steps of the process and any notes that will help you stay on track or ideas you have for each step.

Submit your Unit 3 Project through the Dropbox. Click the Dropbox Help button for more information on submitting your work.

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