SO308 Prin of Social Research

for S2F 2010

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SO 308 Principles of Social Research


S2F 2010 QU


Mason, Teresa L.


Assistant Professor of Psychology


Ph.D. Developmental Psychology
M.A. Developmental Psychology

Office Location


Office Hours

By Appointment

Daytime Phone



Semester Dates

March 22 - May 23 2010

Class Days


Class Time

5:30 - 10:30 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. (2010). The practice of social research (12th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Learning-Wadsworth. ISBN-10: 0495598410


Textbooks can be purchased through the MBS bookstore

Additional Resources:

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.
Park Helpdesk - If you have forgotten your OPEN ID or Password, or need assistance with your PirateMail account, please email or call 800-927-3024
Resources for Current Students - A great place to look for all kinds of information - Quantico Marine Corps Base Family Library

Course Description:
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 or MA120 and an introductory to social sciences class.

Educational Philosophy:
I believe the ideal classroom is one where students add their own ideas to discussions, debate and challenge their fellow students, and actively think through the concepts being discussed.  I learn so much from my students and I know they learn a lot from each other as well.

  Instructor Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe and illustrate each step in the research cycle, both for laboratory and field research; and discriminate among the choices that must be made at each stage. [core assessment, final exam]
  2. Apply the principles of the scientific method to social science research. [data analysis, core assessment, final exam]
  3. Operationalize a theoretical question or practical concern as a testable hypothesis. [data analysis, core assessment]
  4. Critically analyze and evaluate a research literature and then to build new research upon the foundation it provides. [literature review, core assessment]
  5. Apply the fundamental aspects of measurement and construct variables based on those principles. [data analysis, core assessment, final exam]
  6. Identify and differentiate basic research designs and determine which is appropriate for a given research problem. [data analysis, core assessment, final exam]
  7. Identify the principles of probabilistic, nonprobabilistic, and multistage samples, and determine which is appropriate for a research problem. [data analysis, core assessment, final exam]
  8. Explain and justify the use of quantitative, qualitative, and multimethod data gathering techniques. [data analysis, core assessment, final exam]
  9. Apply the principles of ethical research. [ethics assignment, core assessment, final exam]
  10. Gather interactive and nonreactive data. [data analysis]
  11. Analyze quantitative and qualitative data. [data analysis, final exam]
  12. Collect, analyze, and critically evaluate empirical data. [data analysis]
  13. Present research results to specific audiences. [data analysis, ethics assignment, core assessment]
Class Assessment:

I. Research Proposal (Core Assessment = 20%)

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.

Link to Class Rubric

II. Data Gathering Project (20%)

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.  

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.

III.  Exams (35%)
1.   There will be midterm
2.   There will be a final exam

IV. Out-of-class Assignments (5%)
Complete and submit various homework assignments including the "Ethical Decisions Worksheet."

V.   Discussion/Participation and Modules (20%)
Participate in all classroom discussions and assignments each week for a possible 20 points each week. You are required to participate in 4 modules; any additional module will be worth 2 extra points on your final for a maximum of 4 points.


90 - 100%  = A
80 -   89% = B
70 -   79% = C
60 -   69% = D
Less than 60% = F

Late Submission of Course Materials:

If an assignment is due on a night that the student is not present, it is the student's responsibility to get the assignment to the instructor on the due date. Five points will be deducted each day an assignment is late. Assignments will not be accepted after three days past the due date without prior approval from the instructor.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

    • Class participation is expected and will form a part of the final grade.
    • Students are expected to attend all classes and be on time.
    • Students are required to read all material assigned prior to class and apply the material during class discussions, activities, and exercises.
    • The student is responsible for providing the instructor with justification for an excused absence, either prior to or immediately after the absence.
    • Computers are now an integral part of our educational experience; you will be required to have access to the Internet on a regular basis.
    • Students are expected to use ecompanion for this course; it is the student's responsibility to monitor
    • Students must be responsible for planning ahead and meeting deadlines.
    • Students will conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times.
    • Students are expected to respect other students' opinions and values, even if they disagree with those opinions and values.
    • There should only be one person talking at a time. Side bar conversations will not be tolerated.
    • Students are not allowed to use cell phones during class (no texting except on breaks).

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

Week Chapter/Topic Assignments Due Module
March 24
1 - Intro to course;
2 - Paradigms & Theories

2: March 31

3 - Ethics;
4 - Research Design;
Module 1: Topic TBA
April 7
5 & 6- Measurement;
7 - Sampling


Ethics Assignment Due

Module 2: Topic TBA
April 14
8 - Experimental Research;
9 - Survey Research

Experiment Data Due
Module 3: Topic TBA
April 21
10 - Qualitative Research;
11 - Unobtrusive Research
Survey Data Due
Module 4: Topic TBA
April 28
13  & 14- Concepts of Data Analysis
Observation Data Due
Module 5: Topic TBA
May 5
15 & 16 - Quantitative & Statistical Analysis
Interview Data Due
Module 6: Topic TBA
May 12
Research into Practice
Content Analysis Due
Module 7: Topic TBA
May 19
Research Proposal Due
Final Exam

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: .


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Last Updated:3/11/2010 11:24:47 PM