Karl Gordon Hill
SOC WL 580
Logic, terminology, and methods of quantitative social science approaches to correlational, experimental, quasi-experimental, survey, and program evaluation research. Components of the research process (problem definition, concept explication, ethical evaluating, and designing defensible quantitative research studies).
This course provides an introduction to the broad scientific issues and the specific methodological strategies used in formulating and answering research questions within the field of social welfare. While we will discuss the utility of qualitative research and mixed methods, the focus of this course is on quantitative research methods.
I used the School of Social Work's Guidelines for Research Competency Acquisition in the PhD Program as well as my conversations and input from prior students as well as the as guides in building the course.
The course is designed assuming you are coming in with some foundation in quantitative research methods from either undergraduate or masters work, and provides a venue for you to add depth to your knowledge about particular methods and designs. Most of the required readings are drawn from research journal articles.
If you do not have this foundation, or it needs reinforcing, don't despair: I have also structured the course such that you can build or consolidate a foundation as necessary, but anticipate a bit of extra time to both reinforce your foundation and tackle deeper issues.
Student learning goals
Be able to use the logic, terminology, and methods of standard social science approaches to experimental, quasi-experimental, survey and applied program evaluation research.
Be able to design defensible research studies that demonstrate the effects (outcomes) of a deliberately manipulated or naturally occurring change (intervention or cause).
Be able to apply ethical principles of research (e.g., human subjects review, ethical constraints, vulnerability of at-risk populations, etc.).
Understand issues involved in instrument development (e.g., construction of questionnaires, interview guides, scales, etc.).
Understand approaches to sampling (e.g., types of probability and nonprobability sampling, mechanics of sample drawing).
Have practiced critiquing a research manuscript, and writing a research proposal.
General method of instruction
The course is conducted in seminar format for which discussion of the assigned readings and peer exchange comprise major components. I see my role as helping you to explore key themes and issues, identify resources for acquiring knowledge beyond what can be covered during class time, sharpen your critical skills, and acquire information and skills crucial to the design of valid and meaningful research. One of my primary roles is to foster a stimulating, supportive classroom environment in which you may serve as resources for one another.
Please read the assignment prior to the date indicated in the weekly syllabus! I've tried to keep the reading load down so you aren't just "reading to the assignment." Each reading will aid in the assignment you are working on that week, and will, of course, promote class discussion. Some portion of each class I will likely present some ideas of the topic of the day, however, the major portion of each class will be used for discussion where we can see how the week's readings illustrate each aspect of the research process.
Class assignments and grading
Typical assignments include:
Assignment 1: Human subjects and cultural considerations Assignment 2: Design choice and operationalization of constructs Assignment 3: Measurement selection and review Assignment 4: Draft of research idea and aims Assignment 5: Methodological critique of a published study.
Final paper: Research proposal
There are three graded components to the course: small assignments distributed throughout the quarter, a final consolidated research proposal and class participation.