Instructor: Professor Gunnar Almgren                            Class meets July 24 – Aug 21

Office: 244A                                                                        Tues & Thurs 9:30am – 12:20pm

Office Hrs:  By appt                                                         Room SW305 (Commons)


Telephone/voice mail: (206) 685-4077

TA:  Quynh-Tram H. Nguyen: E-Mail                                               


SocW 506A – Summer 2008




This course builds on and reinforces the knowledge and skills you developed in your undergraduate social research methods course.  Designed to strengthen knowledge and skills related to practice-based research, this course considers issues of  problem definition, literature review, measurement selection for diverse populations, and optionally quantitative data analysis.




1.      To learn to critically assess social science research from ethical, multicultural, and social justice perspectives.


2.      To build on students’ existing knowledge base to expand their capabilities to conduct research.


3.      To enable students’ capacity to link research to evidence-based practice.


4.      To identify ways in which social welfare research can either perpetuate or counter oppression against vulnerable populations



Rubin, A. & Babbie, E.R., (2008).  Research Methods for Social Work.  6th Edition.

Thomson Brooks Cole.


If you have a prior edition of the Rubin and Babbie text you are welcome to use it.  However, it will be your responsibility to identify the pages in the text that are tied to the specific readings in the current edition.




There are two types of supplemental readings, required and optional. The required readings will be placed on electronic reserve, available for reading on-line or download at the following URL:


There is also a hardcopy of the e-reserve readings available for individual check-out from the SSW Library Reserves. Optional resource readings will be via a set of books placed on course reserves at the SSW Library. These include:


Evidence-based Practice Manual: Research and Outcome Measures in Health and Human Services

Edited by Albert Roberts and Kenneth Yeager.

2004, Oxford University Press


The Qualitative Research Experience

Edited by Deborah Padgett

2004, Wadsworth Publishing Company


The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research

edited by Norman K. Denzin, Yvonna S. Lincoln.

Thousand Oaks : Sage Publications, c2005.


Tricks of the Trade: How to Think About Your Research While Doing It

Howard Becker

University of Chicago Press, 1998


Qualitative research for social workers : phases, steps, & tasks

Leslie M. Tutty, Michael Rothery, Richard M. Grinnell ; [contributors: Carol D. Austin. Boston : Allyn and Bacon, c1996



This course will include lecture, discussion, in-class exercises, computer lab sessions, as well as readings and homework assignments to achieve the course objectives.


Periodically, there may be email communication sent via a class list created by UWIN, hence, it is students responsibility to periodically check their official UW e-mail account.



Responsibilities include: timely completion of required readings, class attendance, participation in discussions, completion of project, and presentation of individual project.


Each student must decide by the end of class on July 31st which of the following individualized project options s/he will be doing.  The projects are due Aug 21.  These options are being made available to tailor learning to each students’ level of expertise


  • Develop a research proposal


  • Propose research question, conduct a statistical analyses on a research question formulated by the student from the Beyond High School data set provided by the instructor.





This course will be formally evaluated using standard UW evaluation forms at the end of the quarter. In addition, note cards are provided at each session for immediate feedback.


Evaluation of Student Learning:

Successful learning in this class is predicated on active in-class participation, currency with the required reading and a commitment to student peer teaching.  The final grade for the course will be based on the following criteria:

40%     Individual project due Aug 21

20%     2 Mini-Quizes (one Aug 5 and one Aug 19)

20%    Small Group Project: Development of an Evidence-Based Clinical Protocol due August 21

10%     Poster presentation of individual project due Aug 21

10%     Regular class attendance and active participation in class discussion and exercises


Written work should be typed, double spaced, using a standard 12 point font (e.g., Times Roman). Please number your pages, and use appropriate citation of sources following APA format conventions.  Grades for written work will be based on the following: ability to articulate ideas; evidence of critical thought; understanding of research design elements and if appropriate analyses; skill of argumentation; and, organization, clarity, and quality of writing. As a graduate level course, grades in the "C" range (2.9 or lower) are considered unsatisfactory. Grades in the "B" range (3.0 to 3.6) indicate satisfactory to very good performance. Grades in the "A" range (3.7 to 4.0) indicate excellent to outstanding work.



Please let me know right away if you will need any learning accommodations for this class.  If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disability Resources for Students, 448 Schmitz, 206-543-8924 (V/TTY).  If you have a letter from the office of Disability Resources for Students (formerly Disabled Student Services) indicating you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to me so we can discuss the accommodations you might need for this class.














Note: Class lecture discussion sessions will be held in SSW 305 (The Commons), and all lab sessions will be in the SSW Computer Lab located on the ground floor. During the first week of the term, students will be assigned to either Lab Section A or Lab Section B. In order to accommodate the limited number of terminals in the Computer Lab, during the 5 class sessions that include a statistics lab, Lab Sections A and B will switch places between the lab and lecture segments that occur in the second half of the class.


Session #1 – July 24


9:30-10:00:      Introductions and Course Overview

10:00-10:45:    Inductive epistemology, deductive epistemology, and theory building     

10-45-11:00:    Break

11:00-11:30     In-Class Exercise #1: Formulating a question and considering design options.

11:30-12:20     Research Designs        


Rubin and Babbie, Chapter 3

Rubin and Babie, Chapter 6

Session #2 – July 29

9:30-10:15       Forms of Validity         

10:15-10:45     In-Class Exercise #2: Study justification, research questions, design of two    articles

10:45-11:00    Break

11:00-11:40             Threats to Validity          

11:40-12:20     Lab # 1 Entering Data


Rubin and Babbie, Chapter 10

Rubin and Babbie, Chapter 11                                                                             

Session #3 – July 31

9:30-10:15       Measures and Psychometric Properties

10:15-10:45     In-Class Exercise #3: Creating a  Measure       

10:45-11:00     Break

11:00-11:40     Correlation and Causality         

11:40-12:20     Lab #2  Describing the Sample


Rubin and Babbie, Chapter 7, 8, & 9


Session #4 – Aug 5 (Mini-Quiz #1)


9:30-10:00       Mini-Quiz #1 on Study Designs and Validity


10:00-10:45     Sampling


10:45-11:00     Break

11:00-11:30     In Class Exercise #4: Review sampling, measures, data collection in 2 research



11:30-12:20     Sampling Error and Measurement Error           



Rubin and Babbie, Chapter 14


Becker. Sampling, In Tricks of the Trade. University of Chicago Press. 1998 (in e-reserves)


Session #5 – Aug 7

9:30-10:30       Qualitative Data Analysis         


10:30-10:45     Break


10:45-11:30     Quantitative Data Analysis       


11:30-12:20     Lab #3  Cross-tabulation and Chi-square



Rubin and Babbie, Chapter 19

Rubin and Babbie, Chapter 20



Coleman and Unrau. Analyzing Your Data. In Tutty, Rothery and Grinnel  (Eds.) Qualitative Research for Social Workers. Allyn and Bacon. 1996.  (in e-reserves)


Almgren. Statistics for Human Service Workers. In Roberts and Yeager (Eds.) Evidence-Based Practice Manual. Oxford University Press. 2004 (in e-reserves)



Session #6 – Aug 12

9:30-10:30       Connecting Theory and Evidence to Practice    

10:30-10:45     Break

10:45-11:30     Pragmatics of Program Evaluation        

11:30-12:20     Lab #4 – t-tests and One-Way ANOVA



Rubin and Babbie, Chapter 13

Session #7 – Aug 14


9:30-10:30       Ethical Dimensions of Social Welfare Research


10:30-10:45     Break


10:45-11:30     Selection Bias and Generalizability of Findings


11:30-12:20     Lab #5 Bivariate Correlation and Regression



Rubin and Babbie, Chapter 4


Myers, L.L. & Thyer, B. (1997). Should social work clients have the right to effective treatment? Social Work, 42, 3, 288-298.


Witkin, S.L. (1998). The right to effective treatment and the effective treatment of rights:  Rhetorical empiricism and the politics of research. Social Work, 43, 1, 75-80.


Massey. Review Essay: Murray and Herrstein’s Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life. American Journal of Sociology. 101 (3): 747-753  (in e-reserves)


Massey. Blackballed by Bush. Contexts 5 (1): 40-42 (in e-reserves)






Session #8 – Aug 19   (Mini-Quiz #2)


9:30-10:00       Mini-Quiz #2 on Measurement, Sampling, and Data Analysis

10:00-11:00     Qualitative and Mixed Methods Research

11:00-11:15     Break

11:15-12:20     Cross-cultural Research           



Rubin and Babbie, Chapter 5


Almgren, Kemp and Eisinger. The Legacy of Hull House and the Children’s Bureau on the American Mortalty Transition. Social Service Review 74 (1): 1-27. (in e-reserves)


Shklarov. Double Vision Uncertainty: The Bilingual Researcher and the Ethics of Cross-Language Research. Qualitiative Health Research 17 (4): 529-538. (in e-reserves)



Session #9 – Aug 21

Round robin poster presentation of  major project assignment and celebration


Readings: NONE!


Individual Project Options




Option A – Research Proposal

This paper presents your overall study design and methodology.  Present the study in four sections and use the headings as provided below.  You will need to meet with either the instructor or TA no later than Aug 7th to get feedback on your research question, preliminary design and methodology.  Total paper length 8 pages double spaced and references on a separate page(s) in APA format.  If you’re not sure about APA formatting with citations, check the School of Social Work’s writing consultant web page for details on APA style.  Your written proposal is due at the start of class Aug 21st .

Your poster presentation on Aug 21st  should describe your research question and methodogy so your classmates will have a sense of what kind of study you are proposing.

i)        Introduction

a)      Present the research question.

b)      Provide a clear justification showing how this question builds on the existing literature, including appropriate citations of peer-reviewed literature to support this justification.  Since you will have limited time to work on this, you will not have an opportunity to do a thorough review.  You should still have a few relevant citations to make a succinct argument or justification of you are building on the knowledge base. 

c)      There should be a rationale as to why this research question is important, why we should care about it.

ii)       Methods

a)      Describe the study design

i)        Rationale for the particular study design

ii)       Potential strengths and weaknesses of this design

b)      Describe the sampling plan include:

i)        what you will do to select cases

ii)       how you will contact them

iii)     what your exclusion and inclusion criteria for participating will be

c)      Describe your proposed measure including information on its reliability and validity

i)        if it’s a measure without existing psychometric information explain how you will assess whether it is an appropriate instrument or note

ii)       provide a copy of the measure, whether it is pre-existing or one you created

d)      Describe the procedures you will use to collect the data

i)        how will you ensure a high completion rate

ii)       attend to possible human subject concerns

iii)     Limitations

a)      Discuss how generalizable you expect your results to be based on your design, sampling strategy and data collection

b)      Discuss how your proposed study attends to issues of diversity (remember diversity isn’t just about race) and possible biases


iv)    Poster  

Your poster presentation on Aug 21st should describe your research question, your study design type, your measures, sampling methodology, and planned approach to data analyses.



OPTION B – Analyses Project

This project entails picking out a dataset to use that is likely to answer a research question that you are interested in.  You will have access to data from the UW’s Beyond High School Research Project for this purpose.  If you have access to some other data, for example, agency data or a publically available dataset,  you are welcome to use it. 

i)        Review the dataset to see what kind of constructs are measured within the data.

ii)       Construct one or more research questions that can be answered by the data.

iii)    You will need to meet with either the instructor or TA no later than Aug 7th to get feedback on your research question and proposed analyses.

iv)     Conduct the necessary analyses.

a)      The level of sophistication of your analyses will be dependent on your statistical background.  The course will provide an opportunity to learn how to use SPSS/PC which is a quantitative software to conduct analyses.  The course is however NOT a statistics course so we will not be reviewing statistical concepts. 

v)      Provide a written summary which includes your research question(s), the steps you took in your analyses, the results, and their interpretation.  The length of the summary is dependent on your analyses so no page guidelines are given.  This is due at the start of class on August 21st.  

vi)     Your poster presentation on Aug 21st should describe your research question, describe your analyses, results and interpretation.