CSS 504 — Research Methods

CSS 504: Social Science Research Methods; UI Field Campus, McCall

Introduction This project-based course will take students through various “hands-on” experiences of data collection in the “real world” context of the McCall Outdoor Science School residential field science programs . It provides an opportunity to learn through doing, with faculty providing guidance rather than instruction. The primary learning methods are inquiry and practice. As a group we will follow three inter-woven pieces of the course:

  • Discussion and check for understanding of concepts presented in the primary text Research Design by John W. Creswell
  • Application of research methods and concepts to the “real world” problem of conducting a program-wide curriculum evaluation at MOSS
  • Application of research methods to your own project proposal development

Instructor: Karla Eitel, keitel@uidaho.edu, 208-310-7081. MOSS. Office hours: by appointment. Location and Time Thursdays of academic weeks, 8:30 am – 12:30 pm, Grad Yurt

 Assessment (Course Learning Outcomes) This course is intended to provide you with skills, experience and knowledge in the areas listed below. Please adopt these as your goals for the course.

  • Understanding the role of the research in problem-solving in various contexts
  • Demonstrated awareness of various methods for understanding phenomena, collecting data and drawing conclusions
  • Practice written, oral and graphic skills to compose clear, accurate and compelling text, images and other media, particularly written documents and oral presentations.
  • Apply techniques for data collection and analysis

Course Format This course is designed to provide first-hand experiences with data collection and analysis while engaging students in broader discussions about why we do research, what we can learn from the process, and the limitations and benefits of various approaches. This two-credit course will involve in-class discussion, lectures, student presentations and out of class projects. My goal for us is to explore social science methods in a fun way that leads to shared understanding about the role of research in understanding social phenomena.

Connection to M.S. Projects The work we will undertake in this course may not always directly apply to your sponsored project and M.S. work, depending on how much “research” you are doing for your project. However, I firmly believe that as graduates of an M.S. program in a social science field, it is really important that you have a broad understanding of this material. I hope it will also be fun and enlightening.

Week #
Section 1
Section 2
January 20 (Wednesday!)
January 27 (Wednesday!)
Your project and possible research applications within your work
  1. Reading: NONE
  2. In-Class: Discussion of your projects and possible research connections
  3. Reflection: Write a one-page reflection on how your project might use research
February 4
February 11
Evaluation Research
  1. Reading: Creswell, Chapters 1, 5, 6 and 7
  2. In-Class: Question generation, document review
  3. Reflection (send to Karla, copy your advisor): Write a one-page reflection on how paradigms apply to your project
  4. You should be working on an Introduction to send to your Advisor
February 18
February 25
Qualitative methods 1:
Focus groups
  1. Reading: Creswell, Chapter 9; Focus Group Methods
  2. In-Class: Focus Group interviews with staff and faculty
  3. Reflection (send to Karla, copy your advisor): Write a one-page reflection on what you learned about FACILITATING focus groups and how you might use an approach like this (or why you would not) in your project
  4. You should be working on updating your literature review to send to your Advisor
March 3
March 10
Qualitative methods 2: Interviews
  1. Reading: Jacob and Furgerson, Writing Interview Protocols and Conducting Interviews: Tips for Students New to the Field of Qualitative Research
  2. In-Class: Individual interviews with other program leaders
  3. Reflection (send to Karla, copy your advisor): Write a one-page reflection on what you learned about FACILITATING interview
  4. You should be working on a first draft of your methods section
March 17
March 31
Qualitative methods 3: Data analysis
  1. Reading:
    1. Kolb, S. M. (2012). Grounded theory and the constant comparative method: valid research strategies for educators. Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies3(1), 83-86.
  2. In-Class: Analyze data from Focus Group, Individual Interviews and Documents
  3. Review the Data Analysis Tips PPT file
  4. Reflection (send to Karla and copy your Advisor): Write a one-page reflection on what you learned about ANALYZING qualitative data
  5. You should be working on a draft of your proposed analysis to send to your Advisor
April 7
April 14
Quantitative methods 1: Data collection
  1. Reading: Creswell, Chapter 8, Survey Design One-Pager
  2. In-Class: Design quantitative instrument to collect data to further context evaluation
  3. Reflection (send to Karla and copy your Advisor):  Write a one-page reflection on what you learned about developing a survey instrument
  4. You should be working on putting your whole proposal together
April 21
April 28
Quantitative methods 2: Data analysis and display
  1. Reading:  TBD
  2. In-class: Analyze quantitative data
  3. Due to Advisor: Draft of your project proposal
  4. Reflection (send to Karla and copy your Advisor):  Write a one-page reflection on what you learned about analyzing quantitative data
  1. Reading: NONE
  2. In-class: Present display of data and report
  3. Due to Advisor: Final draft of proposal
  4. Reflection (send to Karla and copy your Advisor): Write a one-page reflection on how your thinking about social science research methods has developed since the beginning of the semester

Course Standards

  • Assignment Format: All assignments should be formatted with 12-point font, 1 inch margins, double-spaced paragraphs, double-space between paragraphs, flush left margin. All pages should be numbered and in digital format. Papers (turned in to your Advisor) should follow APA guidelines. The following website provides examples of this system for different media (e.g., books, journals, websites, etc): https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/
  • Reflection Format: You will be asked to complete in-class reflections at the end of each session. These will be one-page long and turned in to me so that I can understand the meaning that you are making from the course material. They will not be graded but I will do my best to get you timely feedback on their content.
  • Course Participation.Each student is expected to actively participate in one another’s education by providing and requesting critiques in every class period dedicated to them. The student is expected to ask questions or offer comments that increase understanding of the material during class discussions. Time has been set aside outside of the regular class hours for discussion or additional help from instructors and other faculty.
  • Incomplete Grades. Medical as well as some family or personal circumstances are grounds for an incomplete grade in this course. To be awarded an incomplete you must have completed 60% of the course with a grade of 60% or better. You must resolve an incomplete within six weeks after the beginning of the subsequent semester. Failure to do so (or to apply for an extension) automatically results in an F on your transcript.
  • Retention of Student Work. The professors may retain student projects as documentation of the course and accomplishments of the MOSS program, or as examples for future student projects. Final projects will posted on the MOSS website as a reference to future MOSS graduate students and other professionals.
  • Disability Support Services. Reasonable accommodations are available for students who have a documented disability. Please notify the instructor during the first week of class of any accommodation(s) needed for the course. Late notification may mean that requested accommodations might not be available. All accommodations must be approved through Disability Support Services located in the Idaho Commons Building, Rm. 333, 885-7200, email at dss@uidaho.edu
  • Academic or Professional Misconduct. Please read Article II of the University of Idaho Student Code of Conduct. Avoid plagiarism by citing work by others even if you have rephrased or summarized the idea and, of course, citing pages for direct quotes.
  • Professional Conduct. Students will likely find themselves representing the University of Idaho and the MOSS/CSS programs in several public contexts. You are expected to dress professionally for public meetings and to practice the Association of American Educators code of ethics (http://aaeteachers.org/index.php/about-us/aae-code-of-ethics), or a similar code of ethics chosen by the student and approved by the instructors.

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