Click the Week/Topic below to open up more detailed instructions, including linked assignment documents.

Each week we will focus our personal study and open discussions on a major research concept. Use readings from the text, other articles, blogs, lectures, selected video and resources linked in the VCU and Diigo libraries to inform your individual and group studies. Please share any resources you find especially helpful to your own understanding.

  • Begin by reading and viewing resources. Use optional media as helpful.
  • Each Wednesday, midnight, your blog post is due.  Your blog always includes:
    • a unique title,
    • the question you are responding to,
    • a quote or an image from readings or the web
    • a follow-up question at the end to invite someone to respond to your writing.
    • a link to another resource outside the course that further explains or represents yours or another perspective.
    • your section category and a topic tag.
  • Each Friday, midnight, your self-assessment quiz on the week’s concepts is due. Quizzes are found in Blackboard.
  • Sunday, midnight, your group proposal activities are due as assigned. Submit in Blackboard.

Course Assignment Schedule Summer 2015 is a printable pdf and should assist you in keeping track of course requirements and their due dates.

Monday, May 18. Listen to the instructions in this Brief Orientation to the Course Guide. Then follow these instructions for the Search Protocol Exercise, completing this document template: Search Protocol Exercise Template. It will familiarize you with search methods and terminology and help you plan effective literature searches. Everything you need to complete the exercise is located on the Course Guide. The completed protocol document should be submitted to Blackboard by Friday May 29th.

Read text Chapter 1. Human Inquiry and Science

Due Wednesday, May 20, midnight. Complete Participation Requirements.

Visit the VCU Writing Center if you want consultations about your writing. Recommended.

Click here to find more instructions about Making your first post.

Due Wednesday, May 20, midnight.  Write Food for Thought blog response:

Let us know a little bit about :

  1. Who you are, your program, where you are from, and any other interesting points that help us know who you are…
  2. How you define the research process. What have been your experiences learning, doing and reading about research?
  3. Include an image, a brief statement about why you chose the image, and how it relates to the topic you are most excited to learn about this semester.

Tag first

Due Friday, May 22, midnight. Take Chapter 1 Self-Assessment Quiz in Blackboard.

Read others’ blogs to determine who you would like to work with on your group proposal. Connect using section email from Blackboard groups, or other communication tools to find out more about common research interests.

  • Your proposal group members must be in your same instructor group.
  • Proposal Groups will have 3 to 4 people.
  • Friday, May 22. Group enrollment opens. Self-enroll through Blackboard in the group you’d like to join.
  • Sunday, May 25, midnight. Enrollment due. Be sure to enroll by Sunday, May 25, midnight. You will be assigned a proposal group automatically if you do not enroll in one by choice. 


Supplemental Video Resources (optional), Chapter 1:

  1. It’s not always easy to identify a research article, as this video explains: “Research Defined: What is research? How do you recognize a research article?”
  2. A “dialectic of social research” – Albert Einstein and Queen Elizabeth hit all of the major points: “Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research”
  3. Same topic, but not as funny as Al and Liz: “UniversityNow: Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research”
  4. Not shown as a “dialectic” in this textbook edition, but definitely is one; Short and to the point: “Basic & Applied Research”

Supplemental Additional Resources (optional):

  1. Digital Tools for Researchers
  2. Web Center for Social Research Methods
  3. How to Read a Journal Article (pdf)

Schutt Chapter 2. The Process and Problems of Social Research

Read this one pager called “The Data Don’t Speak for Themselves”.

This screencast, created by Dr. M. Secret, presents an overview of Research Methods. Since it is about an hour and 10 minutes long, view it in segments, taking notes and asking questions while viewing:

Slides 1-9 cover some of the basics including a discussion about the types of research
Slides 10- 15 are a review of the research process
Slides 16- 25 go into some detail about use of theory in research, including a discussion about independent and dependent variables
Slides 26 – 31 talk about developing the research question and the literature review

Post questions about the topics, and assignments in our shared forum. Answer other students’ questions if you can help them find the information they need.

Wednesday, May 27, midnight. Write Food for Thought blog response:

What are common errors of human inquiry? Find a magazine, newspaper article, an editorial or blog that illustrates one or more of these errors. Explain. Be sure to include a quote and/or a link to the source. Tag errors

Friday, May 29, Complete Library Resources:Individual Search Protocol Exercise.

Friday, May 29, midnight. Take Chapter 2 Self-Assessment Quiz in Blackboard.

Connect with your group through Blackboard tools and shared google docs, hangouts,, phone or other tools. Decide which tools you will use to communicate as a group, when you will meet, and roles you will choose (editor, person who posts assignments, …). Use the first assignment to discuss the direction of your group proposal. The Brainstorm your Topic Worksheet is your first shared assignment due Sunday, May 31, midnight. Please complete together and have one person from your group submit it through Blackboard group assignments.


Supplemental Video Resources (optional), Chapter 2:

  1. Using theoretical and conceptual frameworks in research; Example from educational research: “Conceptual Frameworks (part 1),” “Conceptual Frameworks (part 2),” “Conceptual Frameworks (part 3)”
  2. Examples from sociology: “Inductive and Deductive Reasoning”

Read text Chapter 3. The Ethics and Politics of Social Research.

Wednesday, June 3, midnight. Write Food for Thought blog response:

Health reform is a national policy issues that has been getting a significant amount of attention.  One of the biggest factors driving the need for health reform is the rising cost of health care.  If you were to create a research model about what contributes the most to the rising cost of health care, what variables (concepts) would you want to explore and how might you go about doing this? Tag healthcare.

Friday, June 5, midnight. Review Initial CITI Training Requirement for Social and Behavioral Research. Login to to complete required training. You must receive at least an 80% on the exam to receive credit. You will receive a document or email that includes your score on the exam when complete. Turn in this document in Assignments, Blackboard, CITI Exam.  Allow a minimum of 6 hours.

Sunday, June 7 midnight. Review together these Research Proposal Instructions Complete your Research-Proposal-Instructions Group Contract . Submit in Blackboard group assignments.


Supplemental Video Resources (optional), Chapter 3:

  1. Spend time engaging in the LAB: Avoiding Research Misconduct as more than one of the four characters. Then play in the  Research Clinic.
  2. Historical context and footage from the actual experiment: “Milgram Experiment Video”
  3. Footage from the actual experiment and interviews with the researcher and participants: “The Stanford Prison Experiment”

Supplemental Additional Resources (optional), Chapter 3:

  1. Official Health and Human Services decision trees for IRB submissions. The actual charts begin on p. 11 after definitions of concepts. HHS_human_subjects_regulations_decision_charts (2004)
  2. Very basic, but animation is interesting: “Ethics in Research”
  3. An interesting discourse on “politics” or policy-making and its intersect with the “evidence” (research):  “Evidence and Healthy Public Policy”

Read text Chapter 4 Research Design.

View video “Independent, Dependent and Confounding Variables in Quantitative Research”

Review this simple slide set called “In Search of Social Regularities” explaining independent and dependent variables.

Wednesday June 10, midnight. Write Food for Thought blog response:

After playing several characters in the Lab and Clinic, and reviewing the Milgram and Stanford Prison videos, describe and compare your reaction to the decisions you made as different characters and explain how you intend to avoid research misconduct.  Tag ethics.

Friday, June 12, midnight. Take Chapter 4 Self-Assessment Quiz in Blackboard.

Sunday, June 14, midnight. Complete group work on Literature Review Worksheet. Submit as group assignment in Blackboard.


Research Design Screencast- Secret

Podcast 5 research design
Notes on the Research Design Screencast: the material on experimental and non-experimental designs in this screencast will not be on this mid-term. But, it should be helpful to come back to when we do Chapter 6 on Experiment after the mid-term


Supplemental Video Resources (optional), Chapter 4:

  1. A general approach to research design using a tree analogy: “Research design: a simple approach”
  2. A general introduction to longitudinal design using examples from education: “Longitudinal Research”
  3. Some things to think about as you develop a proposal research question; Links research questions with research design: “How to critique the relevance, wording and congruence of research questions”

Read text Chapter 5 Conceptualization, Operationalization, and Measurement and Chapter 6 Indexes, Scales, and Typologies

Read the Davis article, then listen to the podcast:  A Research Story — from Theory to Measurement is a screencast created by M. Secret to illustrate how theory guided this study: Factors Influencing African American Youth Decisions to Stay in School by Davis, Johnson, Cribbs, and Saunders (Journal of Adolescent Research, Vol. 17 No. 3, May 2002 223-234)

Review slides explaining Levels of measurement.

Wednesday, June 17, midnight. Write Food for Thought blog response:

Search online journals to find a research project involving a panel study. Describe the nature of the study design and its primary findings. Include a link to the article. Tag design.

Friday, June 19, midnight. Take Chapter 5 Self-Assessment Quiz and Chapter 6 Self-Assessment Quiz in Blackboard.

Measurement – Secret

Podcast 3 – Measurement Example corrected

Notes on this measurement screencast,
— disregard the information at the end of the presentation on Treatment fidelity is not covered in the Babbie text and will not be on the mid-term
— Authors of research texts often have different ways of explaining the terminology around measurement validity and reliability. ‘Internal consistency’ is discussed in the presentation but will not be on the mid-term.
— I tend to put interval/ratio measures together and that is how it is presented in the presentation. However, Babbie makes a clear distinction between interval and ratio so make sure you know how Babbie uses these terms.


Supplemental Video Resources (optional), Chapter 5:

  1. With examples that are easy to understand: “Levels of Measurement”
  2. Some mnemonics in this one to aid memory: “Nominal, ordinal, interval and ratio data: How to Remember the differences”
  3. Reliability and validity of measurement series from a Miami University psychology course: “Reliability and validity (1/3),”“Reliability and validity (2/3),” “Reliability and validity (3/3)”

Supplemental Video Resources (optional), Chapter 6:

  1. A basic social scientific introduction: “Indexes and Scales”
  2. If that doesn’t do it for you, try meteorology! “What is the heat index?”

Read text Chapter 7 The Logic of Sampling and Chapter 9 Survey Research.

Screencasts on Survey Research and Question Construction:  This two part series provides you with a very brief high level overview of some of the most important concepts in survey research.  Each one is about 4 1/2 minutes.

Read this article: “Determining Sample Size”

Wednesday, June 24, midnight. Write Food for Thought blog response:

What does trust mean to you? Explain your concept of trust and then try to operationalize it in some way that would allow it to be measured. What types of questions might you ask? Tag measurement.

Friday, June 26, midnight. Take Chapter 7 Self-Assessment Quiz and Chapter 9 Self-Assessment Quiz in Blackboard.

Sunday, June 28, midnight. Complete Measurement Worksheet. Submit in Blackboard as a group assignment.

Sampling – Secret

podcast 4 sampling

Note: Babbie does not discuss ‘cross-population’ sampling – that term will not be on the mid-term

Supplemental Video Resources (optional), Chapter 7:

  1. Covers the basic types of probability samples; Discusses cluster sampling as a single stage process in which all members of the clusters are selected, as opposed to the textbook description of multistage cluster sampling, in which both clusters and  members of the clusters are subjected to sampling: “Sampling: Simple Random, Convenience, systematic, cluster, stratified – Statistics Help”
  2. Types of nonprobability samples: “03 Sampling NonProbability Sampling Convenience Judgmental Quota”
  3. How to actually choose a random sample: “Simple Random Sampling”
  4.  Each group should really be called a “stratum”; “Strata” is the plural: “Stratified Sampling”
  5.  As in the video above covering cluster sampling, this is a single stage cluster sampling illustration, not multistage: “Cluster Sampling”
  6. Generally good, but does not mention that the start should be made randomly in the first sampling interval: “Systematic sampling”
  7. At last (and fast)! Multistage cluster sampling using a geographic area example: “Cluster Sampling”
  8. A simple overview of what can be a difficult concept for some students: “Sampling Distributions: Introduction to the Concept”

Supplemental Video Resources (optional), Chapter 9

  1. From Dartmouth College; Treats when to survey and goes through survey design steps: “Introduction to Surveys”
  2. More information about the survey design process; Includes discussion of qualitative instruments: “Developing Research Instruments: Surveys and Interviews”

Supplemental Additional Resource (optional), Chapter 9:

  1. For anyone interested in designing survey questions, this is a great resource: “Survey Questionnaire Construction”

Mid-term orientation screen cast

I’ve put together a slide set with a high level overview of the major concepts covered in the first half of this course.  Some of you may find it helpful as you study for your midterm exam: Research Methods Conceptual Review

practice questions for mid-term summer 2015

Exam site is open from Monday, June 29 to Friday July 3, midnight. Once you begin the exam, you have a limited amount of time to complete. You have one attempt. Check all instructions in Blackboard!

Wednesday, July 1, midnight. Write Food for Thought blog response.  Remember to think like a researcher and use what you’ve been learning as you respond:

Pay attention to the news on TV, radio, news magazines and/or newspapers and online.  What types of surveys or polls made the news this past week?  What do you know about the sample used in these surveys or polls (e.g., sample size, sampling frame, target population, etc)?  What is your opinion of the sample that was used? Tag sampling.

Work on proposal.

Comment on others blogs.

Read text Chapter 8 Experiments.

Screencasts on Experimental Design: This two part series provides you with a very brief high level overview of some of the most important concepts in experimental design. The first is about 7 minutes long and the second is about 4 1/2 minutes long.

Wednesday, July 8, midnight. Write Food for Thought blog response.  Remember to think like a researcher and use what you’ve been learning as you respond:

Consider the eight sources of internal invalidity discussed. Make up an example (not in the chapter) to illustrate at least 4 of these sources of internal invalidity. Tag experimental.

Friday, July 10, midnight. Take Chapter 8 Self-Assessment Quiz in Blackboard.

Sunday, July 12, midnight. Sampling Worksheet due .


Supplemental Video Resources (optional), Chapter 8:

  1. Basic introduction to classical experimental design: “Experimental Design”
  2. Includes a couple of variations on the classical design; Also has a brief consideration of non-equivalent control and time-series quasi-experimental designs (see Chapter 12); Unfortunately, video is a bit fuzzy: “Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs”
  3. Here for the distinctions between experimental and quasi-experimental, but includes non-experimental design as well: “Quantitative Research Designs: Descriptive non-experimental, Quasi-experimental or Experimental?”
  4. Emphasizes threats to internal validity and has lots of examples: “Session 2.3 quasi-experimental”
  5. In particular, considers single subject design: “Time Series Designs”

Read text Chapter 10 Qualitative Field Research

View Dr. Blumenthal’s podcast.

Explore the Community Toolbox Section 2: Community Based Participatory Research (also known as Action Research).  Take a look at not only the Main Section, but also the tabs for Checklist, Examples and Powerpoint.

Read this article describing the results of a Community-Driven Approach to Environmental Exposures.

Wednesday, July 15. Write Food for Thought blog response.  Remember to think like a researcher and use what you’ve been learning as you respond:

Review all of the blogs to date posted on this classes’ course site.  What might you do to analyze these blogs?  What types of things might you want to research and draw conclusions about regarding the types of posts, the students who post, etc?  Tag qualitative.

Friday, July 17, midnight. Take Chapter 10 Self-Assessment Quiz in Blackboard.


Supplemental Video Resources (optional), Chapter 10:

  1. Example from Social Work; includes NVivo coding: “Qualitative Research Methodology”
  2. Ethnographic methods and applications: “Ethnography”
  3. Types of participant observation: “Participant Observation as a Research Method”
  4. As an example of qualitative data analysis, check out an NVivo tutorial at the link below. NVivo, Atlas.ti, and MaxQDAplus are available free to students on a VCU server. Go to the Technology Services App2Go page for more information: QSR NVivo Tutorials

Supplemental Additional Resource (optional), Chapter 10:

  1. Qualitative Case Study Methodology

Read text Chapter 11 Unobtrusive Research and Chapter 12. Evaluation Research.

Read this Logic Model Development Guide.

Review this screencast and accompanying powerpoint presentation that covers the basic concepts and applications of research evaluation and includes an illustration of the applied logic model. Program Evaluation Screencast
Power Point for program evaluation screencast 7.15

The screencast is about an hour long, but you can view it in segments or stop and start at your convenience.

Wednesday, July 22. Write Food for Thought blog response. Remember to think like a researcher and use what you’ve been learning as you respond:

Now that you’ve explored Community Based Participatory Research (Action Research) and read about an actual example of how this approach was used to bring about change in a community, think about a community problem.  This could be a problem in your home town or one in the City of Richmond or wherever.  Describe the problem and discuss how an Action Research approach might be used to address this problem. Would you be interested in participating in an Action Research initiative like this?  Why or why not?  Tag action.

Friday, July 24, midnight. Take Chapter 11 Self-Assessment Quiz and Chapter 12 Self-Assessment Quiz in Blackboard.

Sunday, July 26, midnight. Design Worksheet due.


Supplemental Video Resources (optional), Chapter 11:

  1. Example of the use of content analysis in a study of a social protest movement: “A Practical Introduction to Content Analysis”
  2. From the UK; includes discussion of advantages and disadvantages of secondary data analysis: “SY2/SY4 Secondary Quantitative Data”

Supplemental Video Resources (optional), Chapter 12:

Work on proposals.

Read text Chapter 14 Quantitative Data Analysis.

To review this chapter, view Dr. Honnold’s screencast.

Wednesday, July 29. Write Food for Thought blog response.  Remember to think like a researcher and use what you’ve been learning as you respond:

As you think about all the many types of public/social programs there are out there (literacy, teen pregnancy prevention, delinquency prevention, wellness, etc.), which ones do you know have actually undergone a rigorous program evaluation and have demonstrable outcomes? Which ones do you feel have not been adequately evaluated and need to have some greater scrutiny put on them?  Why?  Tag evaluation.

Friday, July 31, midnight. Take Chapter 14 Self-Assessment Quiz in Blackboard.


Supplemental Video Resources (optional), Chapter 14:

  1. The three measures of central tendency (yes, you learned these in elementary or middle school, but may have forgotten!): “Mean, Median, and Mode: Understanding and Calculating Measures of Central Tendency”
  2. Another basic but useful video on measures of central tendency: “What to Report When There is an Outlier – Measures of Central Tendency”
  3. View only the first seven minutes of this video; It deals with the construction and interpretation of percentages in bivariate tables; The second part goes into calculation and interpretation of chi-square, which is not needed for this course: “Understanding Contingency Tables and Crosstabulation, Pt. 1”

Monday, August 3, midnight. Final proposal due. Submit through Blackboard as a group assignment, using SafeAssign. It is suggested that you submit as a draft early so you can correct any citation errors before final submission. Post your proposal to your blog site if you would like responses from others besides your instructor. Tag proposal.

Tuesday, August 4, midnight. Your individual assessment of your group’s work is due

Wednesday, August 5, midnight. Write Food for Thought blog response.  Remember to think like a researcher and use what you’ve been learning as you respond:

This blog is a self-assessment. Use these prompts to help describe your learning process. What did you learn by being active in this course? How much did you know about research before we started? Did working with an interdisciplinary group interested in all forms of Social Research enhance your learning? Did you do your work the way other people did theirs? Did conversation during collaboration strengthen your learning? What changed your mind about research? What do you still need to learn to do quality research? Or write your own prompt and respond about your study. Tag self-assessment.

Thursday, August 6, midnight. Final exam due.  To prepare, review your textbook and course materials.  If you find it helpful, attached is a powerpoint presentation from the optional Research Methods Final Exam Review Session – Summer 2015

Comment on others’ self-assessments and proposals. Continue after Friday August 7….