Approved by Faculty Senate.

 

University Studies Program

Critical Analysis Flag

Sociology 376

Introduction to Social Research

Critical Analysis Flag Outcomes

This course includes requirements and learning activities that enhance

students' abilities to...

1. Recognize and evaluate appropriate evidence to advance a claim

Introduction to social research is a course that will develop the student's basic knowledge and skills of research and critical thinking. This course will focus on the methods that criminologists, sociologists, and other practitioners of the social sciences employ to study social phenomenon. The goal of the process is to uncover new information or data through the application of fundamentally valid and reliable procedures. This course will instruct the student in the process of gathering evidence and interpreting it. The information or data gathered is then used to either verify or modify an existing claim or to abandon the claim and develop a new theoretical viewpoint.

2. Apply critical analytical skills in making decisions or in advancing a

theoretical position

In order to understand and "do" research, you must develop and use a set of higher-level thinking skills. Research methods requires a systematic

investigation of a phenomenon aimed at discovering data and interpreting

relations among the elements of that phenomenon. This process involves both

inductive and deductive methods for developing and analytically testing

theoretical frameworks. In social science, this is the process of

theorizing why a phenomenon occurred. However, this process also requires

utilization of proper research design. The design is the art of planning

and implementing procedures for the critical evaluation of a phenomenon

which lends to the discovery of valid findings germane to explaining the

causes of the phenomenon.

3. Evaluate alternative arguments, decision strategies, or theories within

a systematic framework

Social research is a process for evaluating theoretical frameworks. The process has as its foundation the analytical strategies of deductive and

inductive verification of a theory. Both qualitative and quantitative

analysis will be utilized. These reasoning strategies include the translation of ideas into measurable aspects, then making measurements of those aspects in the real world, then making generalized statements of those observations, and then finally verify an existing theory or developing an alternative framework. The most important aspects of this process is that it stresses critical thinking, meticulous decision making procedures, and validity of conclusions.

 

SOCIOLOGY 376

INTRODUCTION TO SOCIAL RESEARCH

Critical Analysis Flag

INSTRUCTOR: Dr. J. Mark Norman

OFFICE: Minné Hall 130

PHONE: 457-5670

Office Hours:

CLASS MEETING: Tue/Thur 12:30-1:50pm.

LOCATION: MI 235

 

REQUIRED TEXT:

Maxfield, Michael G. and Earl Babbie. (1998). Research Methods for Criminal

Justice and Criminology 2nd. Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Company.

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

Introduction to social research is a course that will develop the student's basic knowledge and skills of social research. This course will focus on the research methods that criminologists, sociologists, and other practitioners of the social sciences employ to study social phenomenon. The major focus of this course will be to develop the skills to critically examine a phenomenon. Thus, in the end, the student should be able to critically evaluate all phases of the social research process.

In order to understand and "do" research, you must develop and use a set of higher-level thinking skills. Research methods requires that you memorize and comprehend scientific terms, but it also expects the researcher to be able to utilize advanced thinking skills, such as the application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of information. As a result, the student will be required to utilize learned techniques to read, understand, and criticize the validity of a researcher's conclusions.

COURSE AND UNIVERSITY STUDIES GOALS:

The goal of this course is to provide the student with an understanding and appreciation of Critical Analysis. Therefore, this course will introduce

the student to the language, principles, and techniques of social analysis.

In short, the major goals of this course include: (1) to "recognize and

evaluate appropriate evidence to advance a claim"; (2) to "apply critical

analytical skills in making decisions or in advancing a theoretical

position"; and (3) to "evaluate alternative arguments, decision strategies,

or theories within a systematic framework".

These goals will be accomplished by understanding the following procedures:

(1) defining ideas; (2) identifying relevant theoretical frameworks; (3)

utilizing inductive and deductive modes of explanation, that is the process

of translating ideas into questions that can be critically analyzed; (4)

choosing methods for collecting and deciphering information; (5) gathering

and interpreting data; and, (6) making the results of research available to

others. Both Quantitative and Qualitative methods will be examined in this

course.

PORTFOLIO:

Introduction to Social Research is a PORTFOLIO class. Each student,

under guidelines of the major or minor in criminal justice, will be required

to submit one (1) entry from this course.

 

ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS:

1) ATTENDANCE AND PARTICIPATION: Class attendance and participation is

expected of all students for each class meeting. The student will also be

expected to complete each day's reading before class and participate fully

in that class' discussion. In addition, handouts and assignments will be

distributed during class. Finally, the nature of the subject requires class

attendance and participation to gain a full understanding of the subject

matter.

2) MISSED CLASSES: Please try not to miss any class sessions. If the

student misses a class it is that student's responsibility to makeup any

work missed. NOTE: missed in class exercises may not be made up.

A) Special Dates: These are dates that I will not be here. Some, or all, of these dates may apply to this course. These dates may or may not apply to your other courses:

3) All students are expected to be punctual when arriving to class.

 

PAPERS/PROJECT, EXERCISES AND EXAMINATIONS:

1) PAPER/PROJECT: Each student will be expected to participate in the

completion of a research paper/project. A detailed description of this

project will be forth coming. This project will be worth 75 points.

2) EXERCISES: Several in-class exercises will be completed by the student

during the course. As stated, in order to understand and "do" research, you

must develop and use a set of higher-level thinking skills. Course

exercises will provide the student with an understanding and appreciation of

Critical Analysis of social phenomena. Each exercise will be designed to

facilitate the student's ability to critically analyze the process of

drawing valid and reliable conclusions of an argument. Each exercise will

be completed in class and is worth 20 points.

 

A) Exercises and Activities to meet flag outcomes:

1) To "recognize and evaluate appropriate evidence to advance a claim":

Exercise #1: Crime, Criminal Justice, and Scientific Inquiry.

Exercise #5: Understanding Causation.

Exercise #7: Conceptualization of Ideas and Theories.

Exercise #8: Understanding Levels of Measurement.

Content Analysis Exercise:

Exercise #14: Putting it all Together

 

2) To "apply critical analytical skills in making decisions or in

advancing a theoretical position"

Exercise #2: Developing Ideas and Variables.

Exercise #3: Developing Theoretical Frameworks.

Exercise #4: Propositions and Understanding Alternative Explanations.

Exercise #6: Research Design

Exercise #7: Conceptualization of Ideas and Theories.

Exercise #9: Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Design.

Exercise #11: Overview of Data Collecting and Sampling.

Exercise #12: Surveys and Other Ways of Asking Questions.

Exercise #13: Field Research

Exercise #13A: Qualitative Methods

Exercise #14: Putting it all Together

3) To "evaluate alternative arguments, decision strategies, or theories within a systematic framework".

Exercise #4: Propositions and Understanding Alternative Explanations.

Exercise #5: Understanding Causation.

Exercise #10: Ethics and Criminal Justice Research.

Exercise #13: Field Research

Exercise #13A: Qualitative Methods

Exercise #14: Putting it all Together

3) EXAMINATIONS: A total of four (4) examinations will be given in this

course. Examinations will consist of any and all material covered in this

course. This will include any and all information covered in the text,

lectures, and handouts. The examination will be a combination of

true/false, multiple choice, and short answer questions. Each examination

will be worth 50 points. PLEASE DO NOT MISS AN EXAMINATION. IF THE STUDENT

DOES MISS AN EXAMINATION, AN ESSAY MAKEUP EXAMINATION WILL BE GIVEN.

4) GRADING: Grades are based on class participation, the course research

project, exercises and examinations. Grades will be computed on a straight

percentage:

90-100%=A

80-89%=B

70-79%=C

60-69%=D

Below 59%=F

 

CALENDAR

WEEK 1-4:

INTRODUCTION TO SOCIAL RESEARCH:

A) CHAPTER 1: Crime, Criminal Justice, and Scientific Inquiry.

1) Exercise #1:

B) INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH PROJECT

 

THEORY, CAUSATION AND VALIDITY:

A) CHAPTER 2: Theory and Criminal Justice Research.

1) Exercise #2:

2) Exercise #3:

3) Handout on Theory Construction and Hypothesis Development.

B) CHAPTER 3: Causation and Validity.

1) Exercise #4:

2) Exercise #5:

3) Handout on Causation Criteria

C) CHAPTER 4: General Issues in Research Design.

1) Exercise #6:

EXAM #1: February 1st.

WEEK 5-9:

STRUCTURE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE RESEARCH:

A) CHAPTER 5: Concepts, Operationalization, and Measurement.

1) Exercise #7:

2) Exercise #8:

B) CHAPTER 7: Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Design.

1) Exercise #9:

C) CHAPTER 8: Ethics and Criminal Justice Research.

1) Exercise #10:

EXAM #2: March 1st.

 

WEEK 10-13:

ETHICS AND OBSERVATIONS IN RESEARCH:

A) CHAPTER 9: Overview of Data Collecting and Sampling.

1) Exercise #11:

B) CHAPTER 10: Survey Research and Other Ways of Asking Questions.

1) Exercise #12:

2) Handout on Questioner Design.

C) CHAPTER 11: Field Research.

1) Exercise #13:

2) Exercise #13A:

EXAM #3: April 10th.

 

WEEK 14-16:

FIELD RESEARCH AND DATA ANALYSIS:

A) CHAPTER 12: Agency Records, Content Analysis, and Secondary Data.

1) Content Analysis Exercise:

B) CHAPTER 13: Evaluation Research and Policy Analysis.

C) CHAPTER 14: Interpreting Data.

1) Exercise #14:

EXAM #4: May 3rd @ 1:00pm.

 

QUESTIONS, PROBLEMS, AND STUDENT INPUT: Please feel free to approach the

instructor with any questions, problems or concerns. Finally, if you have a

cultural or physical handicap which may affect your work in this class,

please see the instructor during the first full week of class.