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Basic Social Work Research


Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
Faculty Approval Date: 10/17/2012

Course Description

This course will provide content on the logic of inquiry and the necessity for an empirical approach to practice. The process of formulating appropriate research questions and hypotheses, techniques for testing relationships and patterns among variables, methods of data collection, methods to assess and improve the validity and reliability of data and measures, and the ethics of scientific inquiry will be addressed. This course will help students understand practice through the critical examination of methods associated with decision-making, critical thinking, and ethical judgment. The course content will integrate the core themes related to multiculturalism and diversity; social justice and social change; promotion, prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation; and behavioral and social science research.


Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:

1. Act as a critical consumer and contributor of the design, methodology, and conclusions of social work and social and behavioral science research publications.

a understand research concepts to permit a critical analysis of research and evaluation studies with respect to quality, bias, ethics, and potential applications.
b assess the strengths and weaknesses of selected research designs and methodology, and of selected measures and measurement strategies.
c assess the cultural sensitivity of measures and measurement strategies.
d assess the biases and implications of conclusions drawn in the research studies.
(Practice Behaviors 3.1, 3.2, 6.1)

2. Locate, assess and critique research studies so as to draw appropriate inference, particularly as it affects diverse populations at risk (dimension: ability, age, class, color, culture, ethnicity, family structure, gender [including gender identity and gender expression], marital status, national origin, race, religion or spirituality, sex, and sexual orientation).

a frame research questions and develop problem statements that reflect the issues under consideration.
b apply research concepts and principles in the development and use of
selected qualitative and quantitative methodologies and analytical approaches.
c choose appropriate research designs and methodology given a particular research question.
d demonstrate the ability to select culturally appropriate measures and measurement strategies given specific populations.
e construct simple indices, questionnaires, and measures relevant to the evaluation of practice.
f conduct selected analytic and statistical procedures
g demonstrate the ability to interpret and draw conclusions from selected analytic and statistical procedures.
(Practice Behaviors 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 4.3, 6.1, 6.2, 7.2, 10.b.4, 10.d.1)

3. Know the NASW Code of Ethics and appropriately apply it in the conduct of social work research.

a understand ethical issues in the conduct of research and evaluation.
b understand the relevance and applicability of research in working with disadvantaged, disenfranchised, and diverse populations at risk: (dimension: ability, age, class, color, culture, ethnicity, family structure, gender [including gender identity and gender expression)] marital status, national origin, race, religion or spirituality, sex, and sexual orientation).
c examine the processes by which research and evaluation findings can be used to enhance social justice, social change, promotion, prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation.
(Practice Behaviors 2.1, 2.4, 7.2, 10.d.1)


Many different methods will be used for acquiring knowledge and skills including: discussion, lectures, projects, exercises, and lab work. This course is designed to increase students' comfort level with research methods and statistical analyses and to increase their appreciation of the relevance of research and evaluation for social work practice.

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