Course Syllabus

SALEM STATE UNIVERSITY -- SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK

RESEARCH FOR SOCIAL WORK: SWK 707

Fall Semester 2012

 Tuesdays, 6 p.m. - 8:50 p.m.

3 Credits

Instructor:  Elspeth Slayter, Ph.D.                 

Office:  AB-009                                  

Phone: (978) 542-7459                                 

E-Mail:  eslayter@salemstate.edu

Office hours: T, 12-5:30 p.m. most weeks; 9-9:30 p.m. and by appointment

 Global Course Goals:  This course has two over-arching goals.  First, to understand social work research as an integral form of problem solving in social work practice.  Second, to recognize the value, functions, and limitations of social work research in addressing complex social phenomena of concern to social work.

 Sequence Philosophy:  Recent years have witnessed a dramatic redefinition of the role of research in social work & the emergence of the "practitioner-researcher" model for social work practice.  Professional social workers are expected to bring an appreciation & understanding of the scientific problem-solving process to their work. To be competent generalist practitioners, it is necessary for social workers to possess both an understanding of research & the ability to carry it out.  The sequence is designed to allow students to participate in the conduct of research in keeping with social work values & ethics.  This includes: developing the skills necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of their practice; determining the causes of social problems & relationships among the variables affecting social service delivery systems; & assessing & the impact of social work to practice in terms of program planning, program change, & policy. Special attention is paid to research methods & ethics as they affect diverse populations including but not limited to: age, race, culture, class, gender, sexual orientation, & disability.

 Course Description:  This course will enable the student to develop competence in the integrated use of research and information technologies in knowledge building in social work.  The course presents research as a form of investigation in social work practice, emphasizes the compatibility and reciprocity between research and practice, and acquaints students with ethical issues in the conduct and interpretation of social science research.  Following an introduction to the principles and logic of both qualitative and quantitative social research and problem formulation, the remainder of the semester is devoted to building an understanding of the process and utility of social work research.  Classroom activities will consist of a combination of lectures, discussions, group activities and presentations. 

 NOTICE OF EQUAL ACCESS & NON-DISCRIMINATION:  Salem State University is committed to providing equal access to educational opportunities at the College for all students regardless of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, creed, national origin, age, or disability.  Affirmative action is the policy of the College and the School in their recruitment of students, faculty, and staff.  All benefits, privileges, and opportunities offered by the College are available to all students and employees on a non-discriminatory basis in accordance with Federal and State legislation.  

 With regard to disabilities, the College complies with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act in providing all reasonable academic accommodations, aids, and adjustments.  Any student with a disability that has been documented by the Salem State University Office of Disability Services (SSC DS) should speak with the instructor immediately.  An instructor is not allowed to provide accommodations, aids, and/or adjustments without receiving proper documentation from the DS.  Students who have special needs but do not have documentation from the SSC DS may wish to schedule an appointment with the DS staff.  The DS Office is located in Meier Hall (Room 102). Students may call (978) 542-6217 or TTY (978) 542-7146, Video Phone (1-866-881-7097) or email OSD at disability-services@salemstate.edu.

 Class Attendance / Participation: Regular attendance is expected, and students should come to each class session prepared to discuss the assigned readings and to participate actively in class exercises. "Quality of class participation" is defined as sharing perspectives and interpretations of course content and/or relevant direct practice experience or dilemmas, and posing questions that may benefit the entire class vis-à-vis the topic at hand.  "Quality of class participation" is not meant to imply continuous dialogue with the instructor or domination of classroom discussion.  Students are permitted to miss class only in extenuating circumstances and must inform their instructor of their absence prior to class if at all possible.  Make-up assignments for classes missed are not provided.

 Use of cell phones and laptops/computers:  Cell phones should be turned “off,” during class or on "vibrate" in extenuating circumstances.  Please do not check your messages or text during class.  If you are expecting an urgent telephone call, please inform me ahead of time that you may be taking a call.  It is considered to be disrespectful and unprofessional to use the computer for things other than taking notes during lecture/discussion periods.  Laptops are not allowed in class, instead, the instructor provides her notes to the class ahead of time.

 **Flagging policy- Two or more missed classes, a pattern of tardiness to class, lateness of assignments, professional behavior concerns, challenges meeting graduate level expectations may result in the completion of a ‘flagging’ form (see student handbook).  This will initiate a problem resolution meeting with you, your instructor, your advisor and possibly the MSW Program Coordinator. 

 Academic Standards:  Salem State University assumes that all students come with serious educational intent and expects them to be mature, responsible individuals who will exhibit high standards of honesty and personal conduct in their academic life.  All forms of academic dishonesty, including plagiarism, are considered serious offenses against the College community. 

The definition of academic dishonesty is as follows: Submitting another person’s work as one’s own (e.g. copying another person’s work during exams; purchasing papers; copying papers, reports or portions of papers, material from a website and presenting material from another course or paper without proper acknowledgment, citations, references).  Penalties for plagiarism and academic dishonesty can include an automatic course grade of F and being reported to the Vice President, Academic Affairs, and can lead to suspension or expulsion.  See the Graduate Catalogue for complete descriptions of College policies on academic dishonesty and the appeals procedures. All papers are checked for plagiarism via online checking.

 Assignments/Grading: Assignments are to be submitted via Canvas only (not in paper form) and are due on Canvas by the beginning of class as outlined in the syllabus.  Please do not ask for extensions on assignments as I do not accept late assignments unless the circumstances are extreme.  If an assignment is late, it will be graded down by one level (e.g. A to an A-).  In addition, assignment page requirements are not to exceed the maximum page limit (you will be graded down by one level in this instance).   Reference pages are not counted as part of the main body of the paper and should not be counted in the final page limit (but should be included with the rest of the paper, including cover page). Papers should be typed, double-spaced, use one-inch margins on all sides and should conform to APA (6th edition) format for language use, in-text citations and the reference list.  If a student does not turn in one of the three major assignments by the end of the semester, it will result in an automatic “F” for the course as these assignments are cumulative.

Learning Activities: The course will include lectures, student presentations, independent research, theoretical discussion of readings, and experiential learning via in-class exercises.  It is expected that a few guest speakers will also be present to discuss their expertise. 

 

20%     Active class participation:  This includes responding to assigned questions, engaged listening, contributing to class discussions, posing questions, and actively and substantively participating in class exercises as either and individual/group member.

10%     Pop quizzes

15%     Assignment 1:  Agency/Organization Assessment (due week 5, 3-5 pages)                       

15%     Assignment 2:  Annotated Bibliography (due week 10, 10-15 pages)                                         

40%     Assignment 3:  Final proposal (due week 15, 15-22 pages)

 

Required Texts:  Faulkner, C. and S. Faulkner (2009).  Research methods for social workers: A practice-based approach.  Lyceum Books. ISBN: 978-1-933478-15-9 –AND- Selected readings posted on Canvas (new online learning system)

 

Strongly recommended text:  Galvan, J. (1999).  Writing literature reviews: A guide for students of the social and behavioral sciences.  Los Angeles: Pyrczak Publishing

 

 

 

Instructional objectives:

Corresponding assignments:

1) Understand the use of research as a contributor to psychosocial theories and the understanding of social and psychological phenomena

Assignment 1: Agency assessment and use of evidence informed practice strategies.

Classroom activities

2) Understand the range of qualitative and quantitative designs and their potential usefulness in exploring, assessing, describing and explaining social problems and interventions

 

Assignment 3:  Methods and implications section of final proposal

Classroom activities

3) Understand the responsibility for operating within social work values and ethics in the conduct of research

 

Assignment 3:  Ethics section of final evaluation research proposal paper

Classroom activities

4) Understand the advantages and disadvantages of selected research methods for sampling, measurement and analysis

Assignment 3: Selection of appropriate research design and methods

5) Be able to conceptualize and design a social work research project and present a coherent rationale for its selection

 

Assignment 1:  Problem identification and research question

Assignment 3: Evaluation research proposal

6) Be able to conduct a literature search and critically synthesize the results

Assignment 2: Annotated bibliography

Assignment 3:  Literature review section of final research proposal

7) Be able to clearly and concisely critique social work research activity

Assignment 2: Annotated bibliography

Assignment 3: Literature review section of final research proposal

 

8) Understand how research designs, and procedures may reflect and perpetuate social stereotypes of, and prejudices against, members of oppressed groups;

Assignment 3: Commentary section on the ways in which the proposed study would/would not reflect or perpetuate social stereotypes, etc.

 

9) Understand use of research as a means for the advancement of socioeconomic justice and as a tool against discrimination and oppression;

Assignment 3: Problem statement with statement of potential strengths and implications

 

CLASS SESSIONS

 

Class 1: Research in Social Work Practice

  1. Welcome and syllabus review - “Why social work research?”

                                                                    i.                        Becoming a critical consumer of research for social work practice

                                                                  ii.                        Learning to evaluate our own practice (e.g. micro, meso, macro)

                                                                iii.                        Differentiating evidence-supported interventions from the process of evidence-based practice

  1. Introducing the evidence based-practice (EBP) framework
  2. Introduction to your semester-long project

 

Required reading:  Faulkner & Faulkner, Chapter 1 (or Rubin & Babbie Ch. 1)

 

Class 2: The Process of Evidence-Based Practice vs. Evidence-Supported Interventions

  1. Reviewing the evidence based-practice (EBP) framework and the steps in the evidence-based practice process (vs. evidence-supported interventions
  2. Discussion of Pignotti & Thyer article, other classic works on the EBP

 

Come to class ready to discuss:  Your reactions to the Pignotti & Thyer article in light of last week’s discussion and this week’s readings.  Have you used a NUT?

 

Required reading: 

 

Rubin, A. & Babbie, Ch. 1; Ch. 2

 

Pignotti, M., & Thyer, B. (2009, March). Use of Novel Unsupported and Empirically Supported Therapies by Licensed Clinical Social Workers: An Exploratory Study. Social Work Research, 33(1), 5-17.

 

Group 1:  Gambrill, E. (2003).  Evidenced Based Practice: Sea Change or the Emperor’s New Clothes? Journal of Social Work Education, 39(1), 3-23.

 

Group 2:  Witkin, S. and D. Harrison (2001).  Editorial: Whose evidence and for what purpose?  Social Work.  46(4), 293-295.

 

 

Class 3: Implementing an evidence-supported intervention: Program evaluation

  1. Challenges to implementation of an evidence-supported intervention
  2. Program evaluation: Process/outcome or formative/summative

 

Come to class ready to discuss:  Your field placement or former job (see me ahead of time if you are not currently involved in a social work setting) in light of this week’s readings

 

Required reading: 

 

Rubin, A. & Babbie, Ch. 13

 

Aarons, G.A, Wells, R.S., Zagursky, K., Fettes, D.L., & Palinkas, L.A. (2009).  Implementing Evidence-Based Practice in Community Mental Health Agencies: A Mulitple Stakeholder Analysis. American Journal of Public Health. 99(11): 2087-2095.

 

Class 4: Theories, research questions and hypotheses

  1. Problem statement formulation and research question development
  2. Use of theory in social work research

 

Come to class ready to discuss:  The ways in which theory is used in the Križ, Slayter, Iannicelli & Lourie and Eyrich, Pollio & North readings

 

Required reading:  Rubin and Babbie, Ch. 3 and University of Toronto- Tip sheet on Theory (2003).

 

Group 1: Focus on how theory is used in this study, not on understanding everything J: Eyrich, K., Pollio, D. and C. North.  (2003). An exploration of alienation and replacement theories of social support in homelessness.  Social Work Research.  Volume 27:  Issue 4.  

 

Group 2: Focus on how theory is used in this study, not on understanding everything J: Križ, K., Slayter, E., Iannicelli, A. and Lourie, J.  (2012).  Fear Management: How Child protection workers Engage With Non-Citizen Immigrant Families.  Children and Youth Services Review. Volume and issue to be announced.

 

 

Class 5: Literature reviews (Assignment #1 due)

  1. Searching the literature- use of various databases and the internet
  2. Finding ideas in the literature and strategies for critiquing research
  3. How to prepare an annotated bibliography

 

Come to class ready to discuss: The way that the authors of your group’s article structured their literature review and the research question identified in your 1st assignment

 

Required reading: 

 

Faulkner & Faulkner, Ch. 3 (or Rubin and Babbie, Ch. 6, pg. 143-147)

 

Group 1: Focus on how the literature review is structured, not on understanding everything J: Eyrich, K., Pollio, D. and C. North.  (2003). An exploration of alienation and replacement theories of social support in homelessness.  Social Work Research.  Volume 27:  Issue 4.  

 

Group 2: Focus on how the literature review is structured, not on understanding everything J: Križ, K., Slayter, E., Iannicelli, A. and Lourie, J.  (2012).  Fear Management: How Child protection workers Engage With Non-Citizen Immigrant Families. Children and Youth Services Review. Volume and issue to be announced.

 

Class 6: Research design

  1. Research design- experimental, quasi-experimental, single-subject design

 

Required reading: 

 

Faulkner and Faulkner, Ch. 6, 7, 8 and 9 (or Rubin and Babbie, Ch.6 (section on time dimension) as well as Ch. 10, 11 and 12)

 

Meadows, L. A., Kaslow, J. J., Thompson, M. P. & Jurkovic, G.J. (2005).  Protective factors against suicide attempt risk among African American women experiencing intimate partner violence.  American Journal of Community Psychology, 36(1/2), 109-121.


 

Class 7: Sampling

  1. Logic of sampling; probability and non-probability
  2. Importance of critiquing any study’s sampling approach

 

Come to class ready to discuss: Your critique of the sampling approaches in the Rodriguez & Murphy and Meadows et alia articles.  You will want to consider these questions:  Was this a good sample? Why or why not?  How would you sample differently and why?

 

Required reading: 

 

Faulkner and Faulkner, Ch. 5 (or Rubin and Babbie, Ch. 14)

 

Rodriguez, C. and Murphy, L.  (1997).  Parenting stress and abuse potential in mothers of children with developmental disabilities.  Child Maltreatment.  Volume 2: Issue 3

 

Re-read with a focus on sampling section of paper: Meadows, L. A., Kaslow, J. J., Thompson, M. P. & Jurkovic, G.J. (2005).  Protective factors against suicide attempt risk among African American women experiencing intimate partner violence.  American Journal of Community Psychology, 36(1/2), 109-121

 

Re-read with a focus on sampling section of paper: Eyrich, K., Pollio, D. and C. North.  (2003). An exploration of alienation and replacement theories of social support in homelessness.  Social Work Research.  Volume 27:  Issue 4.  

 

Class 8: Measurement of variables and themes in qualitative research (Assignment #2 due)

  1. Conceptualization and operationalization of variables in quantitative research; Levels of measurement, independent and dependent variables
  2. Development of themes in qualitative research

 

Required reading: 

 

Faulkner and Faulkner, Ch. 4 (or Rubin and Babbie, Ch.7, 8 and 20 (pg. 500-503)

 

Re-read with a focus on measurement section of paper: Rodriguez, C. and Murphy, L.  (1997).  Parenting stress and abuse potential in mothers of children with developmental disabilities.  Child Maltreatment.  Volume 2: Issue 3 

 

Re-read with a focus on measurement section of paper:  Meadows, L. A., Kaslow, J. J., Thompson, M. P. & Jurkovic, G.J. (2005).  Protective factors against suicide attempt risk among African American women experiencing intimate partner violence.  American Journal of Community Psychology, 36(1/2), 109-121


 

Class 9: Threats to validity – and – threats to trustworthiness

  1. Internal and external validity (threats)
  2. Threats to trustworthiness

 

Come to class ready to discuss: Your thoughts on threats-to-validity in the Rodriguez & Murphy article from week 8 as well as the Eyrich, Pollio & North article from week 4.  You are not expected to fully “get” threats to validity – just do your best J

 

Required readings: 

 

http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/introval.php

 

Cook, T. and Campbell, D. (1979).  Validity.  Quasi-experimentation: Design and analysis issues for field settings.  Houghton-Mifflin: Boston.  37-39;50-85.  

 

Group readings to be assigned by instructor

 

Class 10: Qualitative research methods (Assignment #2 due)

  1. Research paradigms and types of questions answered by a qualitative approach
  2. Data collection and analysis approaches

 

Required reading: 

 

Rubin and Babbie, Ch. 17, 18, 19

 

Read with a focus on methods section:  Squires, C.R., Kohn-Wood, L.P., Chavous, T. & Carter, P.L. (2006).  Evaluating agency and responsibility in gendered violence: African American youth talk about violence and hip hop.  Sex Roles, 55, 725-737

 

Re-read with a focus on methods section:  Križ, K., Slayter, E., Iannicelli, A. and Lourie, J.  (2012).  Fear Management: How Child protection workers Engage With Non-Citizen Immigrant Families.  Children and Youth Services Review. Volume and issue to be announced.

 

Classes 11, 12 & 13: Understanding quantitative data analyses

  1. Data analysis: Frequencies, cross-tabs and descriptive statistics
  2. Measures of central tendency and bivariate analyses
  3. Best practices in the use of Microsoft PowerPoint

 

Required reading: 

 

Faulkner and Faulkner, Ch. 10 and 11 (or Rubin and Babbie, Ch. 20, 508-523; Ch. 21, 529-546; Ch. 22) and selected re-readings of articles from earlier in the semester to be assigned by group.

 

Class 14: Ethics in research and culturally competent research

  1. History of ethics in research and introduction to the Salem State University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) process
  2. What is culturally competent research?

 

Come to class ready to discuss:  Your experience with the online exercise at this website:  http://www.pbs.org/race/002_SortingPeople/002_00-home.htm

 

Required reading: 

 

Faulkner and Faulkner, Ch. 2 (or Rubin and Babbie, Ch. 4, 5)

 

Moscou, S. (2008).  The conceptualization and operationalization of race and ethnicity by health services researchers, Nursing Inquiry, (15), 94-105

 

 http://www.socialworkers.org/pubs/code/code.asp

 

Class 15:  Final Presentations and Wrap-up (Assignment #3 due)

  1. Final presentations on your proposed  projects
  2. Wrap  up and evaluation of the semester together


Course Summary:

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