Social Work 621

SOWK 621: Research I: Basic Research Methodology

Prerequisites: Admission to the Graduate Program in Social Work or permission of the instructor

Credit Hours: (3)

Introduction to elements of scientific inquiry and research applied in the context of social

Detailed Description of Content of Course

The fundamental elements of scientific inquiry and research techniques, including a variety of research methodologies, are introduced in this course. Students are challenged to enhance their learning through a focus on the technical aspects of research analysis and critical evaluation of research conclusions, with each step building on previously acquired learning in order to encourage a depth of knowledge about research. Students are introduced to a systematic approach to the classification, organization, and analysis of data through a consideration of the fundamental essentials of scientific thinking and methodology relative to social welfare planning and practice.
The course emphasizes the identification and formulation of researchable problems in social work, the utility of the scientific method, the selection of appropriate methodologies, an understanding of the standards for evaluation of research, and sensitivity to bias and ethical behavior in the conduct of research. Also emphasized is an understanding of the fundamental assumptions underlying quantitative and qualitative methodologies as well as their ramifications for research undertaken consistent with each.

Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The course is organized around student-centered learning principles, experiential activities, films/videos, class discussion, limited use of didactic instruction (lectures), student presentations, and student exercises. The course encourages student exploration and reflection regarding how research is related to practice, policy, and human behavior in the social environment. Students are also encouraged to examine how individual, institutional, and societal biases affect the topic, methods, reported findings, and uses of research. Students are expected to be active learners and to contribute to the learning of their classmates.

Goals and Objectives of Course

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

1. Demonstrate an understanding of the basic logic, concepts, terminology, and skills of research in the social sciences;
2. Explain the distinct philosophical assumptions on which quantitative and qualitative methodologies are based;
3. Develop methodologically sound research designs appropriate to the subject under study;
4. Critique professional reports and articles and become a responsible consumer of knowledge acquired through social work research;
5. Design an independent research project;
6. Explain the function of social work research as it relates to the advancement of professional knowledge and practice; and
7. Relate ethical, value, and culture issues to the conduct of social work research.

Assessment Measures
Core assignments may include but are not limited to the following: (1) exams, (2) human subjects training, (3) annotated bibliography, (4) research proposal. Course requirements may also include class exercises, presentations, quizzes, online discussion, participation, and other modalities of assessment.

Other course information

In addition to mastering the principles of research design, students plan an independent research study that they will later carry out in SOWK 772. Students in the Advanced Standing program do not take SOWK 621; instead, they plain their research project in SOWK 679, Advanced Standing Bridge II.

Review and Approval

March 5, 2013