RSCH09026 2017 Research Methods and Evaluation
This module is designed to enable students to develop an understanding of the research process and the nature and variety of research methods, together with the need for an evidence base to inform the decision-making process in Social Work (SW) practice. Throughout the module, the importance of research mindedness within the context of SW will be highlighted to enable students to develop critical understanding and skills as both consumers and producers of research.
The module will provide an overview of both qualitative and quantitative approaches and outline the different epistemological and ideological foundations which underpin these paradigms. It will include exposure to the techniques involved in analysing and evaluating research data, as well as a consideration of ethical, political and social justice issues relating to SW research. During the module students will be enabled to develop the skills and knowledge to critically examine methodological issues and findings in the published SW literature. On completion of the module, students will have the capacity to apply and evaluate research evidence to inform evidence-based practice, develop their own research projects and undertake and evaluate research in a variety of SW practice settings.
On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;
Explain the meaning of research mindedness and its relevance for social work practice.
Demonstrate a sound understanding of hierarchies of research 'evidence', the contested nature of evidence and its place within social work research and evidence-informed practice.
Display an understanding of a variety of ontological and epistemological frameworks in social research.
Demonstrate a critical understanding of the practice and principles of qualitative and quantitative social research.
Appraise and select different research outputs (that is, published studies in the social work literature) and use research evidence to inform Social Work practice.
Identify ethical, political and value issues arising in Social Work Research.
Produce a Level 9 Research Proposal.
Teaching and Learning Strategies
The design of the module allows for face-to-face and blended learning. The module will combine workshop/lecture formats with smaller seminar groups and will utilise the following approaches:
- Structured input, exercises and discussion in the large group
- Small group discussion/workshops to progress individual thinking, reflection and facilitate formative assessment.
- Periodic informal group presentations of assessment tasks (formative presentations only)
Throughout the module, students will be provided with research articles relating directly to the practice of SW and other sources of ‘evidence’ that formulate compulsory reading for discussion in tutorials. Each reading will provide an example of methodologies/methods as used in Social Work research, their potential in addressing specific kinds of research questions, their relevance for social work practice and ethical, political and social justice issues that arise. During the module, students will be required to draft a research proposal for reviewing or evaluating an aspect of SW theory or practice. Guest lecturers from the field of SW practice and research will contribute to the teaching process.
Module Assessment Strategies
Both formative and summative assessments will be incorporated into the assessment strategy.
The formative component will allow for provision of written and verbal feedback regarding demonstration of research skills and techniques including critical analysis, interviewing techniques, questionnaire design
The summative component comprises two assignments as follows:
Assignment 1: Individual Project: Critiquing Methodologies/Methods in published research
Critique and evaluate a research article from the European Journal of Social Work and outline the key epistemological assumptions made within the study, the related strengths and weaknesses of the research design, analysis and validity and any ethical issues raised. Suggest alternative ways which the research question could be explored. (30% of the overall mark for the module).
Assignment 2: Individual Project: Developing a Research Proposal
Incorporating theoretical insights gained from other modules within the programme to develop (a) research question(s) and clearly outline the following research strategy:
- How you are operationalising the research question and measurement variable
- Your rationale for the research
- The study population and your recruitment/sampling method
- Your proposed data collection methods (including draft research instruments, such a survey or interview schedule)
- Proposed data processing and data analysis techniques
- Ethical issues to consider
- Timeline for the work
- Proposed dissemination plan (70% of the overall mark for the module).
Repeat requirements will depend on failed components.
LO1 Explain the meaning of research mindedness and its relevance for social work practice
- This learning outcome will allow the student to explore and critically evaluate the concept of Research mindedness and demonstrate its relevance for Social Work Practice practice.
LO2 Demonstrate a sound understanding of hierarchies of research ‘evidence’, the contested nature of evidence and its place within social work research and evidence-informed practice.
- Students will get the opportunity to understand and evaluate ‘evidence’ and explore the concept of hierarchies of research informed evidence, a key requirement within Social Work Practice.
LO3 Display an understanding of a variety of ontological and epistemological frameworks in social research.
- Students will review the epistemological and ontological foundations of research and the principles of positivist and interpretive research. They will also explore their own positionality and how that impacts on one’s ontological and epistemological position and worldview.
LO4 Demonstrate a critical understanding of the practice and principles of qualitative and quantitative social research.
- Students will gain an in-depth understanding and awareness of qualitative research including ways in which research evidence is produced, question formulation, the balance between induction and deduction, data collection methods (different interviewing techniques, case study, observation, ethnography), data analysis and issues of validity, reliability and replication.
LO5 Appraise and select different research outputs (that is, published studies in the social work literature) and use research evidence to inform Social Work practice.
- Students will be given the opportunity to demonstrate a capacity to appraise different research outputs (that is, published studies in the social work literature) and use research evidence to inform SW practice.
LO6 Identify ethical, political and value issues arising in Social Work Research
- Students will explore and evaluate ethical, political and value issues and principles in SW research. From this student will explicate a draft ethical strategy they will adopt for the final research project.
LO7 Produce a Level 9 Research Proposal
- Students will get the opportunity to develop and demonstrate their capacity to formulate a research question. They will critically reflect upon key methodological considerations in the development of this research proposal/project.
Coursework & Assessment Breakdown
|Title||Type||Form||Percent||Week||Learning Outcomes Assessed|
|1||Assignment 1: Individual Project: Critiquing Methodologies/Methods in published research||Project||Individual Project||30 %||Week 10||1,2,3|
|2||Research Proposal||Project||Project||70 %||Week 14||4,5,6,7|
Full Time Mode Workload
|Workshop||Flat Classroom||Research Workshop||6||Monthly||1.50|
|Independent Learning||Not Specified||Independent Learning||4.5||Weekly||4.50|
Online Learning Mode Workload
|Online Lecture||Distance Learning Suite||Lecture||3||Fortnightly||1.50|
Bell, L. (2017) Research Methods for Social Workers. Palgrave, Macmillan.
Bryman, A. (2016) Social Research Methods, 5th Edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Chapter 6 'Ethics and politics in social research'
Bywaters, P. (2008) 'Learning from experience: developing a research strategy for social work in the UK', British Journal of Social Work, vol 38, no 5, pp 936-952.
Depoy, E. & Gilsin, S. (2017) Social Work Research and Evaluation. Maine: Sage
Dodd, S.J. & Epstein, I. (2012) Practice-based research in Social Work, London: Routledge.
Kiteley, R. & Stogdon, C. (2016) Literature Reviews in Social Work, SAGE
McLaughlin, H. (2011) Understanding Social Work Research: Key Concepts and Issues (SAGE, 2nd ed)
Orme, J. & Shemmings, D. (2010) Developing Research Based Social Work Practice.Palgrave Macmillan.
Rubin, A. & Babbie, E.R. (2016) Essential Research Methods for Social Work (4th ed). Boston, MA Cengage Learning.
Smith, R. S, (2009) Doing Social Work Research, McGraw-Hill Open University Press.
Webber, M. (2014) Applying Research Evidence in Social Work Practice. Palgrave.
It Sligo Postgraduate Code of Practice
The design of the module allows for face-to-face and blended learning. The module will combine workshop/lecture formats with smaller seminar groups.