SW335 Social Work Research

for FA 2009

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SW 335 Social Work Research


FA 2009 HO


Larcom, Cynthia


Adjunct Professor Social Work



Office Hours

by appointment

Other Phone




Class Days


Class Time

2:25 - 3:40 PM

Credit Hours



Research Methods for BSW Students (7th edition), Grinnell, Williams, And Unrau.  ISBN 978-0-9815100-0-2.

Textbooks can be purchased through the MBS bookstore

Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore

Additional Resources:

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.
Park Helpdesk - If you have forgotten your OPEN ID or Password, or need assistance with your PirateMail account, please email helpdesk@park.edu or call 800-927-3024
Resources for Current Students - A great place to look for all kinds of information http://www.park.edu/Current/.

Course Description:
SW335 Social Work Research: This course introduces basic methods of social research, including various aspects of research design, data collection, analysis, and reporting of findings. It examines both qualitative and quantitative research methods, and explores the application of social research knowledge to critical assessment of published social work research and evaluation of social work interventions and programs. 3:0:3 Prerequisite/Co-requisite: SW205 Prerequisite: MA120

Educational Philosophy:
We are forever students of life. As the world evolves, so must we if we are going to be effective. There are times when silence is not golden and you must ask questions not to only gain knowledge, but to understand. Questions, discussion and passionate dialogue expands our minds and our experience.  It’s through knowledge that we will effect change. 

Learning Outcomes:
  Core Learning Outcomes

  1. Identify and apply research process and social work research methods with application to the evaluation of social work practice and programs.
  2. Ability to apply scientific methods to issues of concern for social workers, including how to formulate meaningful research questions, how to select appropriate research designs, how to develop and employ basic methods of data collection including quantitative and qualitative analysis.
  3. Use empirical studies as a knowledge base to support professional interventions and decisions for the enhancement of client well-being.
  4. Interpret statistical concepts and present results as they apply to social work.
  5. Demonstrate ability to critically evaluate published research studies both in print and on the internet.
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of the ethical dimensions and applications of social research relative to privacy, rights of human subjects, diversity and social justice.

Core Assessment:

·  Exams (LO 1-4, 6)

·  Behavior Change Project   (LO 1-6)

·  Critique of Research Article  (LO 1-6)

·  Core Assessment: Evaluation of Practice  (LO 1-4, 6)

Class Assessment:

Behavior Change Project, Critique of Research Articles, Evaluation of Practice, Two Exams, and Attendance Participation. Further details on these assignments will be distributed in class. Written assignments are to be double spaced, 12 font size, typed or word processed, APA style. CO refers to course objectives met, noted in parenthesis.

Exams: There will be two exams in this class.

Behavior Change Project: Each student will select a behavior of their own that they want to change. You will operationally define that behavior, design observation data sheets, conduct and record self-monitoring observations, enlist another (class peer, friend, family member) to conduct inter-observer reliability data collection, identify and implement an intervention, submit a written report of the project, and present the study in class. The final report and presentation must include a discussion of how such a study might be applied in a generalist social work practice setting. The target behavior must be one that you will be comfortable disclosing and discussing in class. The target behavior should not be one that could reasonably be expected to result in a risk of harm to you or others, or a behavior most commonly addressed under professional guidance. The target behavior and planned intervention will need to be approved by the course instructor to be used for this project. The written report will need to be completed in American Psychological Association (APA) format for research reports. The classroom presentation will be graded on organization of the presentation and materials. At least three types of media presentation (e.g., power point, posters, role plays, video, etc.) will be needed in order to obtain full credit. The student will be required to indicate how their research could be improved. The class will meet regularly to talk about their self-change project. They will consider each students progress and offer suggestions. Each student will show their data to the group and turn in graphed data on a weekly basis. Each section of the paper and graph will be reviewed by the instructor who will offer comments that will result in a better paper. This exercise in research will expose the student to single subject research, which is more applicable in the clinical setting. Each student will also get to experience the difficulties and pitfalls that can occur when trying to change their own behavior. This will lead to more empathy towards clients who are trying to change behavior patterns and will alert the student to possible pitfalls that occur under such conditions. (CO1-6)

Critique of Research Articles
: Identify and select four examples of published research relevant to the generalist practice of social work. Complete a written critique of each article based upon checklist below and be prepared to facilitate a class discussion relative to the article and your critique. The critique should include discussion of the studies relevance to generalist social work practice and considerations as to how the study might be improved upon. (CO1-7) This checklist provides a summary of some of the main criteria for critiquing research articles. When critiquing an article, it is suggested that you first indicate on a separate piece of paper your numerical rating for each criterion and enter a brief comment besides each rating of major importance in guiding your overall evaluation of that particular article. You may rate each criterion on the following four-point scale: 1) Excellent; 2) Good; 3) Fair; 4) Poor; NA Not Applicable. (Not applicable may for example refer to experimental controls when critiquing a descriptive, exploratory, and qualitative study.) After rating each criterion, you may sum your ratings. Because of the not applicable your overall rating of the article should be a mean criterion score (between 1-4) obtained as follows:

Sum of ratings (Excluding NAs). Number of Criteria minus those that are not applicable or NA.


o Clarity of purposes and research questions.

o Clarity of conceptual framework and relationship to prior studies.

o Clear specification and adequate operationalization of variables.

o Reasonableness of assumptions.

o Adequacy and representativeness of sampling. Evaluation of Practice: In this assignment students will demonstrate the use of scientific inquiry as a knowledge base to support and measure interventions and decisions for the enhancement of generalist social work practice. (CO 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7)


Every effort will be made to be fair and reasonable in grading your work and participation. If you have questions or concerns about this, please speak to the instructor in a timely manner. You are expected to present material that is legible and well considered. While you will be tested over specific course content, you should do well if you read the material and pay attention in class.

Exams: two exams 15 points each, total 30 points, Behavioral Change Project: 20 points;

Research Critiques: 5 points each, total of 20 points; Evaluation of Practice: 20 points  

Attendance and Participation 10 points     

Scoring: A= 90-100   B= 80-89    C= 70-79    D= 60-69    F= 59-0

Late Submission of Course Materials:

Assignments are due at the beginning of the class on the date indicated. In the event of an absence, assignments may be submitted to the instructor electronically, but will receive the 10?5 deduction if not submitted prior to the start of class on the due date. The student remains responsible for lost, misdirected or incompatible formatting of electronic submissions. In extenuating circumstances (as determined by the instructor) and with timely notification an exception may or may not be granted. Assignments not submitted on time will receive a deduction of 10% of the possible score per day. After the third day an assignment is late it will not be accepted.  If you ever have a question about any assignment or expectation in this course, please contact the instructor in a timely manner. Please be aware that there is no extra credit work in this course.

Make up exams: Exams are given only on the date specified. Make-up exams will only be scheduled at the instructor’s prerogative under extreme circumstances. Students or an agent of the student must notify the instructor prior to the exam and must be prepared to submit documentation of the circumstances.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:
 In order to maintain a positive learning environment the following ground rules will be followed:

  1. Personal perspectives will be valued. Degrading or discriminatory remarks or behaviors are not acceptable.
  2. Discussion will reflect an exchange of information, experiences, ideas, and opinions that have an educational value.
  3. If you work in groups, it is the responsibility of the group members to delegate work. All members of a group must present on the project and all will receive the same grade.
  4. Because of our sensitive subject matter, courtesy needs to be maintained in the classroom at all times.
  5. Cell phones will be turned off during class.
  6. Students will refrain from texting/instant messaging during class.
  7. Students need to arrive on time.
  8. Students will not hold private/side conversations when another person is speaking. Students will speak one at a time, respecting the diversity of opinion. 
  9. If student’s behavior in the classroom is disruptive, the instructor will allow the student an opportunity to correct the behavior without consequences. If the student’s behavior continues to be disruptive, that student may be asked to leave the classroom and will be referred to the Office of Academic Affairs.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

Week One

8/18 - Introduction, expectations, overview of course and assignments

8/20 - Chapter 1, Introduction to Social Work Research 

Week Two

8/25 - Chapter 2, Quantitative Research Approach

8/27 - Chapter 3, Qualitative Research Approach

Week Three

9/1 - Chapter 4, Research Ethic

9/3 - Chapter 5, Measuring Variables

 Journal article due

Week Four

9/8 - Chapter 6, Measuring Instruments

9/10 - Chapter 7, Selecting research Participants

Week Five

9/15 - Chapter 8, Case Level Research Design

9/17 - Chapter 9, Group Level Research Design

Week Six

9/22 - Chapter 10, Collecting Quantitative Data

9/24 - Chapter 11, Collecting Qualitative Data

Journal Article Due

Week Seven

9/29 Chapter 12, Selecting Data Collection

10/1  Chapter 13, Analyzing Quantitative data

Week Eight

10/6- Chapter 14, Analyzing Qualitative data

10/ 8 - Midterm exam

Fall recess no classes Oct 11-18, 2009

Week Nine

10/20-Intro to Evaluation of Programs (teams)

10/22-Intro to Evaluation of Programs (Cont)

 Journal article due

Week Ten

10/27 - Chapter 15, Quantitative Proposals and Reports

10/29 - Chapter 16 Qualitative Proposals and Reports

Week Eleven

11/3 - Evaluation of Programs

11/5 - Evaluation of Programs

Week Twelve

11/10 - Evaluation of Programs Presentations

11/12 - Evaluation of Programs Presentations

 Journal article due

Week Thirteen

11/17 - Behavior Change Project Presentations

11/29 - Behavior Change Project Presentations

Week Fourteen

11/24 - Behavior Change Project Presentations

11/26 No class.  Happy Thanksgiving

Week Fifteen

12/1 - Behavior Change Presentations

12/3 - Final Exam

Week Sixteen

12/10 Behavior Change Paper due

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 2009-2010 Undergraduate Catalog Page 92

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 2009-2010 Undergraduate Catalog Page 92

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 2009-2010 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95

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: http://www.park.edu/disability .


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Last Updated:1/11/2010 5:14:12 PM