SO308 Prin of Social Research

for S2J 2012

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Mission Statement: Park University provides access to a quality higher education experience that prepares a diverse community of learners to think critically, communicate effectively, demonstrate a global perspective and engage in lifelong learning and service to others.

Vision Statement: Park University, a pioneering institution of higher learning since 1875, will provide leadership in quality, innovative education for a diversity of learners who will excel in their professional and personal service to the global community.


SO 308 Prin of Social Research


S2J 2012 DN


Barfield, Sharon T.


Senior Instructor



Office Location


Office Hours

Before and after class and by appointment

Daytime Phone

(785) 979-6411


Web Page

Semester Dates

March 19 through May 13

Class Days


Class Time

5:30 - 10:00 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: Wadsworth Centage Learning.

Textbooks can be purchased through the MBS bookstore

Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore

Additional Resources:

  Supplemental Class Readings
  This class uses two of the instructor's publications only because they illustrate the concepts being studied and also
   provide opportunities to discuss the actual experiences of conducting the
research and writing and publishing the
   findings. They also offer examples of both quantitative and qualitative methods, as well as their fit with the
   research purpose.
   Please note that the topic of one article is intercessory prayer. This is being used strictly because it ideally   
   demonstrates topics and promote discussion. Using this article will not promote any philosophy or infringe on 
   students' spiritual or religious beliefs.

   These article citations appear below: 

   Barfield, S., Dobson, C., Gaskill, R., & Perry, B. (2011, October 31). Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics ©
        (NMT) in a therapeutic preschool: Implications for work with children with 
complex neuropsychiatric problems.
        The International Journal of Play Therapy.
APA Advance
Online Publication, doi:10.1037/a0025955.
Barfield, S. (2010). Voices of the Underinsured: Kansans Tell Their Stories. Topeka, KS: The
     Kansas Health Institute.
Harris, W., Gowda, M., Kolb, J., Strychacz, C., Vacek, J., Jones, P., Former, A., O'Keefe, J., and McCallister, B.  (1999). 
     A randomized, controlled trial of the effects of intercessory prayer on outcomes in patients admitted to the
     coronary care Unit.  The Archives of Internal Medicine, 159.

Other readings TBA

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

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:

I believe that learning and personal/professional growth and development are life-long processes, which can and should be fun. Yes, even Research. I believe in creating a relaxed, non-threatening environment, conducive to interactive learning as well as the stimulation and sharing of ideas and experiences among diverse groups of people. I believe that a meaningful educational experience is a collaborative effort between students and instructor. I have a certain amount of expertise to lend to the process but each student is expert in many ways, including their life experiences, areas of interest, learning style, and what they need or want from a class. Together, instructor and students can create a synergistic effect. I believe that pragmatic application of class materials to life experience promotes understanding.

  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. Analyze data [data analysis, final exam].
Class Assessment:
 Class Assessment
Required Assignment

Points Possible

Grade Percent

Core Assessment Paper



Graded Assignment 1: Mapping Research Concepts



Six Weekly Exercises

30 each = 240


Class Discussion and Participation

20 each = 160


Final Exam 







Please be sure to staple your work before submitting it.

Weekly exercises will be posted on the class homepage ( The week each exercise is due, we will review the subject materials and go over the answers in class. Students will be able to ask questions and receive answers to clarify exercise concepts they haven't yet mastered.

The Core Assessment Paper and guidelines for Graded Assignment 1: Mapping Research Concepts appear below.

Core Assessment Paper

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.

SO 308: Social Research, Spring 2012

Graded Assignment #1, Due Week #4

This first graded assignment will help students become familiar with research concepts. You will use summaries of research findings done by the popular press. Students will analyze two brief descriptions of quantitative, empirical, research studies. If possible, find one cross-sectional/correlational study and one experimental study.

Retrieve the two articles from popular sources in hard copy or online. Possibilities: news clippings in the local paper or their web site, USA Today, The New York Times, popular magazines, Self, Psychology Today, Prevention, etc. Hey, here’s your opportunity to openly purchase an issue of The National Inquirer or similar publications. You can check the USA Today site at for an example. You can find some health news on the homepage of

Hand in a copy of the two brief clippings with your analyses. Do not use an original source published in a professional journal.

For each study or part of a study indicate:

  1. A single, question or hypothesis (ignore other findings for purposes of this assignment).
  1. Whether question or hypothesis was examined through use of a correlational or experimental study design.
  1. The values of researcher(s), if obvious.
  1. The two main variables or concepts contained in your question or hypothesis. Specify the independent and dependent variables if an experimental study.
  1. The way the variables in “4” were or might have been operationalized. If this information is not given, make your best guess.
  1. Quote one statement that most directly describes the results that pertain to your question or hypothesis in #1 above. This is a statement of results or findings based directly on the empirical data.

Does the statement in #6 above express a causal or associational relationship?

Is the statement based on empirical observation or interpretation by authority? In other words, does the statement appear to match the authority being used? (see section below)

Quote one statement that draws an implication or conclusion from the results. This could be a headline or part of the write-up.

Does the statement of implication or conclusion express a causal or associational relationship? (see section below)

Is the statement based on empirical observation or interpretation by authority? In other words, does the statement appear to match the authority being used?

Answer the above items by filling in a blank template to extent possible. Then briefly supply other information on a separate page or pages (double-spaced).


Drawing Appropriate Conclusion/Implications from Tested Relationships


Using an Experimental Design vs. Correlational Study




People may become familiar with an empirical study by reading a summary in a newsletter, newspaper, or other popular press or hearing a descriptive snippet on radio or TV. In so doing, they are likely to read statements that describe study results and statements that draw conclusions or interpretations. All conclusions or interpretations are open to argument as to how reasonable or accurate they are. The popular press often seeks to first entertain or sensationalize and secondarily to inform. Some conclusions or interpretations are misleading because they are written to appear as if they are based on the results of the study itself but actually are not. It is to these types of statements I particularly want to draw your attention.

To clarify the distinction between a conclusion of a study that is directly and appropriately based on the data and a conclusion or implication of a study that is based on interpretation of the results by an “authority,” let me draw your attention to a newspaper headline reported years ago. This headline read:  “Kids Too Flabby?  Turn Off the TV.” This study reported cross-sectional data that found a reasonably strong relationship in teenagers between two variables:  1) the number of hours of TV they watched each week, which I will call Variable X, and 2) the degree to which they were overweight, which I will call Variable Y.
This article is an example of an interpretation of the results of a study masquerading as a study result. There are three possibilities to account for the results. Any or all of them might be accurate and the study, in all likelihood, does not prove which of the various possibilities are true. The headline expresses someone’s opinion that the first possibility is true and omits consideration of the other two possibilities

Possibility 1: X----à Y (a change in Variable X causes, brings about, or leads to change in Variable

Possibility 2: Y----à (a change in Variable Y causes, brings about, or leads to a change in Variable X). That is, something connected to being overweight increases the likelihood that a teenager will choose to watch more TV.

Possibility 3: Z----à X and Z----à Y (a change in Variable(s) Z causes, brings about or leads to a change in both Variable X and Variable Y. That is, a third variable or set of variables are responsible for both relationships (depression, for example – teenagers experiencing high levels of depression vs. those who are not may eat more and thus gain weight and thus spend more time vegging out by watching TV).

Any one or any combination of these three possibilities may in fact be true. A cross-sectional study that looks at correlational relationships is incapable of distinguishing between these possibilities in a satisfactory way. 

An experimental study, on the other hand, is designed to test whether there is empirical support for this causal relationship. If an experimental test could be done testing whether turning off the TV leads to weight loss, the causal relationship implied in the headline could be empirically assessed. Subsequent research using an experimental design has more conclusively shown that watching TV excessively has negative physical and mental consequences. I still do not know whether there is empirical evidence that turning off the TV reliably leads to weight loss.

Further illustration of point:

Case a: “There is a relationship between the extent teenagers are overweight and the amount of TV they watch.”This finding is based on a correlation between two variables that is expressed above as an associational relationship. This is appropriate.

Case b: “So, watching too much TV leads to teenagers gaining weight.”This finding is based on a correlation between two variables that is expressed as a causal finding. This is inappropriate.

Case c: “So, these results may show that watching too much TV can lead to teenagers gaining weight.”These findings are based on a correlation between two variables that is expressed as a causal possibility. This finding is interpreted appropriately because it is only speculating as to a possible causal relationship.

Case d: “The ‘Less TV Means Less of Me’ Intervention led to a significant reduction in weight in participating teenagers.This is an experimental finding that is expressed as an explicit causal relationship. This is appropriate.

Case e: “The teens participating in the ‘Less TV Means Less of Me’ Intervention lost more than those in the control group.

This is an experimental finding that is expressed as an implicit causal relationship indicated or implied. This is appropriate. This is labeled an implicit causal relationship because even though it is worded as an associational relationship it makes no sense unless interpreted causally.


900 to 1,000
800 to 899
700 to 799
600 to 699
Less than 600

Late Submission of Course Materials:

The instructor will not accept assignments late unless special arrangements have been made prior to due dates. Assignments not submitted as scheduled will receive grades of “zero.” Absences do not excuse students from submitting papers according to time lines given. Students may email work via attachments submitted late according to pre- arrangement.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

Students the instructor will treat each other with the utmost respect. All class participants are expected to listen carefully to the comments of others and to share speaking time. While discussion is strongly encouraged, participants will refrain from strong disagreement and the use of loud or offensive language. Participants will turn off mobile devises before class unless expecting urgent communications. If students have concerns or suggestions for improving their learning experiences, they may email the instructor or openly discuss them with the instructor before or after class or during breaks. 

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

Course Schedule




Topics and Assignments Due




March 22

Ways of Knowing, The Nature of Reality, Inquiry and Paradigms

Babbie Chapters 1 and 2


March 29

Ethics and Politics

Introductions to Study Design
Exercise 1: Attributes and Variables Due

Babbie, Chapters 3 and 4


April 5

Conceptualization, Operationalization and Measurement


Exercise 2: Ethics Due

Exercise 3: Types of Study Designs Due

Babbie, Chapter 5

Article by Harris, Gowda, Kolb, Strychacz, Vacek, Jones, Forker, O’Keefe, and McCallister


April 12


Exercise 4: Measurement Due

Babbie, Chapter 7


April 19

Experiments and Surveys


Graded Assignment 1: Mapping Research Concepts Due

In-Class Workshop on Core Assessment Paper

Babbie, Chapters 8 and 9

(Focus on 8; Scan 9)

Reread Harris et al.


April 26

Experimental Design and Surveys Concluded


Exercise 5: Sampling Exercise Due

Babbie, Chapter 8 and 9

(Focus on 9; Review 8)


May 3

Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis

Graded Assignment 2: Core Assessment Paper Due


Exercise 6: Internal/External Validity Due

Babbie, Chapters 14 and 16

Barfield (2010). Voices of the Uninsured: Kansans Tell their Stories


May 10

Final Examination

Evaluation Research

Qualitative Analysis

Babbie, Chapter 12

Article by Barfield, Dobson, Gaskill and Perry


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 students and faculty members are encouraged to take advantage of the University resources available for learning about academic honesty ( or Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 93

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. from Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 93

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 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 96

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:

Again, apologies for the jumbled HTML. Graded Assignment 1, Mapping Research Concepts, will be posted on the class homepage. Students will be able to retrieve most class materials, such as weekly exercises, as needed from the homepage (


Barfield, S., Dobson, C., Gaskill, R., & Perry, B. (2011, October 31). Neurosequential
Model of
Therapeutics © 
      (NMT) in a therapeutic preschool: Implications for work with children with
complex neuropsychiatric problems. 
      The International Journal of Play Therapy.
APA Advance
Online Publication, doi:10.1037/a0025955.

Barfield, S. (2010). Voices of the Underinsured: Kansans Tell Their Stories. Topeka, KS: The
Kansas Health
Harris, W., Gowda, M., Kolb, J., Strychacz, C., Vacek, J., Jones, P., Former, A., O'Keefe, J., and
McCallister, B. (1999). 
     A randomized, controlled trial of the effects of intercessory prayer on outcomes in patients admitted to the
     coronary care Unit. The Archives of Internal Medicine, 159.


This material is protected by copyright and can not be reused without author permission.

Last Updated:3/27/2012 11:36:52 AM