SO308 Prin of Social Research

for S2SS 2009

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SO 308 Prin of Social Research


S2SS 2009 RA


Aspell, Denise D.


Adjunct Faculty


M.A. Clinical Psychology

Office Location


Office Hours


Daytime Phone



Class Days


Class Time

4:55 - 10:20 PM


Introductory social science class (i.e., SO141, PS101, CJ100, or SW205) and SO307 (Statistics) — MA120 allowed for students under 2006 and previous catalogs.

Credit Hours


Babbie, E. R. (2007). The Practice of Social Research, 11th ed. Thomson Learning-Wadsworth.
(Bundled by MBS with the SAGrader Methods Course Pack from IdeaWorks.)

Textbooks can be purchased through the MBS bookstore

Additional Resources:
SAGrader Methods Course Pack from IdeaWorks (bundled with textbook by MBS).

Additional Readings as necessary.

McAfee Memorial Library - Online information, links, electronic databases and the Online catalog. Contact the library for further assistance via email or at 800-270-4347.
Career Counseling - The Career Development Center (CDC) provides services for all stages of career development.  The mission of the CDC is to provide the career planning tools to ensure a lifetime of career success.
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Course Description:
SO 308 Principles of Social Research: An application of the scientific method to social science with the focus on hypothesis formulation, research design, data collection and data analysis. Replication of research studies or completion of a research problem, or both. 3:0:3 Prerequisite: SO307

Educational Philosophy:
Philosophy of Teaching and Learning: I use an andragogical approach to learning. In this approach to learning is an inherent assumption that adults have the ability, need, and desire to take responsibility for their learning. High functioning adult learners demonstrate: (a) critical thinking; (b) effective communication; and (c) an ability to reflect on and use life experience to facilitate their lifelong learning. 

A Note about Grades as Indicators of Performance: Remember that “C” represents average or typical performance and is achieved by “fulfilling” requirements. “B” represents above average performance and is achieved by “significantly exceeding” requirements. “A” indicates excellence in performance and is achieved by “far exceeding” requirements.

Class Assessment:
See detailed instructions and rubrics for all assignments in the SO308 course shell at

Core Assessment (200 points = 20%)
Research Proposal: The Core Assessment for this class requires you to write a detailed proposal for research you could conduct.  You will not actually do this research (though it might form the basis for a senior research project or some research relevant to your job), but your proposal should be a “blueprint” detailed enough that you could hand to others and guide them through its successful completion.  The research proposal will consist of four sections:
1.    Problem Statement: (max. 1500 words) an overview of the topic your research will investigate.  It introduces and justifies your research question, key variables, their hypothesized relations, and your guiding theoretical perspective.  It explains how your planned research is unambiguous in its goals and methods, concerned with a significant issue that will add to the store of human knowledge, theoretically justifiable and testable, practical and feasible to implement, ethical and respectful of human rights, and builds on existing knowledge in the field.
2.    Literature Review: (max. 1500 words) a critical summary of existing research your project will build upon.  Your review will evaluate at least five other relevant research projects from original sources in reputable, peer-reviewed journals.  The lit review discusses previous research, as it influences the proposed project.  It evaluates the methodological, theoretical, or substantive strengths or weaknesses of those studies and explains how they shape your research plans.
3.    Ethics & Conduct of Research: (max. 1500 words) summarizes potential ethical dilemmas, political consequences, and practical challenges associated with designing, conducting, implementing, and disseminating your research.  It explains where your research process might go wrong and the safeguards you will put into place to minimize those risks.
4.    Design & Procedures: (max. 2000 words) describes and justifies your plans for measurement, sampling, design, analysis, and interpretation of results.  It explains which data you would collect, when you would collect it, and what you would do with it to make sense of your topic and shed new light on your research question — and how and why.  This section is a set of “how to” instructions for actually turning your “good idea” into a real plan for scientifically answering your original question.
Your research proposal is a carefully constructed argument for why your question should be answered and how a valid and reliable answer might be obtained.  It should be a meticulous set of instructions for generating an answer according to the rules of scientific method, and it should make the case to interested parties for how such an answer can be achieved.
[You may submit unlimited drafts of your proposal through the online SAGrader system for detailed feedback.]

Data Analysis Project (350 points total = 35%)
Each class member will participate in five common types of data collection and contribute to the final data set.  You will use the final data set as the basis for your data report.  Each of these data concern the general topic of prejudice and discrimination.  This topic was chosen for three reasons: (1.) it remains a topic of vital importance in all our lives, (2.) it was an historically important area of research for the development of social psychology as a field, and (3.) it illustrates the immediate importance for applied social psychological research.
1.  Experiment (40 points): participate in the experiment, administer that experiment to three other participants, and record and submit those data to your instructor in the form provided.  Write up a  brief (400 to 500 word) reflection on your findings and the experience of both taking and administering the experiment.
2.  Survey (40 points): participate in the survey, administer that survey to nine other participants, and record and submit those data to your instructor in the form provided.  Write up a  brief (400 to 500 word) reflection on your findings and the experience of both taking and administering the survey.
3.  Field Observation (40 points): select two different public locations where members of at least two groups interact with one another.  Each observation should last about 30 minutes and you should take copious notes. Write up and submit your detailed field notes in the form provided.  Then write up a  brief (400 to 500 word) reflection on your findings and the experience of conducting your field observations.
4.  Interview (40 points): administer the interview schedule to one person.  Your interview should take about 30 minutes to an hour.  Write up and submit your detailed interview notes in the form provided.  Then write up a  brief (400 to 500 word) reflection on your findings and the experience of conducting your interview.
5.  Artifact Content Analysis (40 points): select two cultural artifacts that you believe evidence prejudicial attitudes or discriminatory practices.  Scan or photograph the artifact (or copy the link, if it is a web page) and embed this in your data submission.  Write up and submit your detailed content analysis in the form provided.  Then write up a  brief (400 to 500 word) reflection on your findings and the experience of conducting your content analyses.
Report (150 points): each student will receive a subset of all the data collected by SO308 students.  You will receive samples from each of the five different data sources.  You must select three of the five data sources for your analysis in the following manner: (1.) one of either the experiment or the survey; (2.) one of the field observations, interview notes, or cultural artifacts; and (3.) any one of the remaining three data sources.  So, for example, you could choose the experiments, observations, and artifacts; or the experiments, surveys, and interviews; but not the interviews, observations, and artifacts.  There must be at least one quantitative and one qualitative data source in your analysis.  Which sources you choose will be dictated by your interests, the question you wish to examine, and your comfort with each type of data.  Once your have selected your data sources, you will find that there is still far too much to cover in this brief report.  Therefore, you will have to further focus your essay on one or two hypotheses or questions.  The best way to do this is to study your selected data sources to find similarities you can group as themes or variables.  Once you have done this, you are ready to dive into your analysis.  Your essay must be between 2500 and 3000 words (about 8 to 12 pages, plus any references) and must consist of the following parts:
(1.)  Description: Your first goal in each project is to identify patterns in the data, propose possible explanations that help you understand the patterns, and to justify your analyses and interpretations through reference to specific empirical evidence and logical arguments.  (See your brief guide to critical thinking handout for more details on how this is done.)Discuss only those aspects of the data or the data collection process that set up the issues you have chosen as the focus of your essay.  You do not have to discuss all of the data, every variable, or the entire data collection process — just pick those that are most relevant to the points you wish to make.  This is a short essay, so you must remain tightly focused.  Compare and contrast what is similar and different about you learn of your topic through all three data sources.
(2.)  Analysis: Your second objective is to attempt to make sense of your observations by analyzing them.  You do this through imputing underlying reasons, motivations, and relationships — always justifying your assertions with carefully collected data and thoroughly developed reason or logic.  In other words, you will construct a small theory to explain and interpret your data, and maybe even help predict future behaviors.  Be sure that all of your assertions can be justified through sound reason and empirical evidence gathered only from your assigned data sources and no others.  Use specific techniques for data analysis discussed in this class as your tools.  You cannot use every method, so choose wisely.
(3.)  Critique:  You must next critique the process by acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses of your data and your methods.  A continual question in social and behavioral research is whether the data we have collected are valid and reliable or just an “artifact” accidentally created by the way in which we gathered our data.  For example, in those assignments based on survey or interview data, you may wonder whether the wording or ordering of the questions has caused subjects to refrain from revealing their true feelings.  What could be done so that if someone were to gather more of this data in the future they could be more confident of it?  Discuss how future investigations may be improved based on our experiences collecting and studying the data.
(4.)  Implications:  Finally, you should discuss how your findings might be applied to help us understand a real problem or issue better or more completely.  What sorts of policies or actions would your findings suggest?  What sort of personal decisions would result?  How would this better understanding change the world if is was generally understood?  Also, what are the dangers of overgeneralizing from these data?

Comprehensive Final Examination (150 points = 15%)
A 100 multiple choice question final examination comprehensive of all materials from the course text book.

Ethics Assignment (20 points = 2%)
Complete and submit the "Ethical Decisions Worksheet" on time and according to instructions for 20 points.

Discussion and Participation (25 points x 8 = 20%)
Participate in all discussions each week, on time and according to instructions, for a possible 25 points each week (in class and online, at your instructor's discretion.

Weekly Quizzes (10 points x 8 = 8%)
Complete each of the eight multiple choice quizzes on time and according to instructions for a possible 10 points each.

Total Points Possible = 1000

A >= 900
B = 800-899
C = 700-799
D = 600-699
F <= 599

See online course shell (and any attached documents) for each assignment rubric.  All assignments must be submitted through the "Dropbox" in the online course shell for grading.

Late Submission of Course Materials:
No late work is accepted. Assignments are due by class time. Assignments may be turned in face-to-face or emailed. Save your emailed assignment in your sent items as verification that your assignment was emailed on time. If you are unable to verify that your assignment was emailed on time, your assignment will not be accepted.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

Guidelines for Scholarly Discussion and Behavior: I am committed to open, frank, and insightful dialogue. Diversity has many manifestations, including diversity of thought, opinions, and values. I expect all learners to be respectful of that diversity and to refrain from malicious commentary. Class dialogue and behavior is expected to conform to basic social etiquette and civility and not to distract from the learning environment. Anything that is found to distract from the learning environment will be addressed. (For example, no chewing on a substance and spitting into a container while in the classroom.) Please abide by the following guidelines for class dialogue and behavior:


(1)  If you disagree with someone, respond to the subject, not the person.

(2)  Be respectful of the diversity of thought, opinion, personality and values.

(3)  Maintain confidentiality. Although this instructor cannot guarantee or enforce that confidentiality be maintained, you are asked to respect the privacy and dignity of each person in class.

(4)  Treat fellow classmates and what fellow classmates share with the honor and respect that you would like to receive in return.

(5)  Turn off cell phones while in class. No electronic communication is allowed during class (except for assigned class presentations). Receiving a call or electronic communication while in class constitutes an absence. If you need to be present to communiqué during the class time-frame, you are deemed unable to be present in class. (Prior abuse has forfeited wise-use.)

(6)  Please conduct research on incivility in the classroom if you need to learn about behavior that is considered socially appropriate and behavior that is conducive to a learning environment. According to the University of California, Santa Cruz (2008) ( ) a few examples of behaviors of incivility are:

Annoyances, minor disruptions—Arriving late and leaving early, talking or texting on a cell phone, reading newspaper, side conversations, packing up noisily before end of class. Together, these offenses can add up to more than just an annoyance.
Dominating discussion—The student who won’t let anyone else talk.
Aggressive challenges of teacher—The student who takes up class time questioning the authority of the professor, expressing anger about grading, or generally undermining your ability to teach.
Disputes between students; demeaning comments—When classroom discussion gets out of hand, or a student uses demeaning or stereotyping language.

While I encourage an atmosphere of reverence and respect as we talk about personalities, cultures, and many aspects of groups of people and how we are socialized, I invite you to cultivate and nourish a healthy sense of humor. It has been proven that humor enables us to release endorphins that facilitate physiological healing and psychological well being. Inviting you to laugh is meant to enhance the experience of processing the intricacies of our social skills, or lack thereof, in a manner that will foster personal and professional development. No offense to any individual, group, occupation, or to any situation is intended. 

Your enrollment at Park University implies that you agree to its terms and policies as outlined in the Undergraduate Catalog. Your enrollment in this class implies that you agree to its terms and policies as outlined in this syllabus.

Best wishes and thank you for being in my class.

Sincerely, Dee Dee Aspell

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

 Week Topic   Due
 1  Research Questions
 2  Design & Sampling
 3  Measurement  Survey
 4  Qualitative & Unobtrusive Research
 5 Survey & Experimental Research
 6  Concepts of Data Analysis
 7  Quantitative & Statistical Analysis
 8  Research into Practice

See online course shell for additional schedule information.

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life.   Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.

Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 89-90
A Note about Presence, Participation, & Grades: Your contribution to the class dialog necessitates your prompt and regular attendance. Receiving a call or electronic communication while in class constitutes an absence. If you need to be present to communiqué during the class time frame, you are deemed unable to participate in class. An accelerated degree program often consists of approximately 15 (or 7 – one per week) class sessions instead of the traditional 30 class sessions. Therefore, arriving late to class late and/or leaving class early two times constitutes one absence.  More than two absences of any kind results in a reduction of at least one letter grade for each absence after the first two absences.

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: .

Additional Information:

Additional Resources:

American Psychological Association. (2001).
Publication manual of the
American Psychological Association
(5th ed.). Washington,
DC.: American Psychological Association.

A Note about Academic Writing and Dialogue: Quality
professional writing and scholarly dialogue calls for demonstrating an ability
to compare, contrast, analyze, synthesize, and integrate information.
Use Bloom's Taxonomy and the elements of thought to develop higher order thinking skills. Conduct an internet
search on Bloom's Taxonomy, higher order thinking skills, elements of thought, and
universal intellectual standards
for further information.

Links for Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Link for the Elements of Thought and the Universal Intellectual Standards.

Go to


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Last Updated:2/15/2009 3:04:11 PM