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Chapter 1

SWP 538 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Program Evaluation

Social Work
Course Code
SWP 538
Susan Preston

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Research: a systematic and methodological approach to creating knowledge
Evidence-based practices: practices whose efficacy is supported by evidence
Importance of Social Work Research
Program evaluation can help agencies obtain grants and funding by demonstrating
program success
Social workers can become agents of macro change
Defining Research
The assimilation of knowledge and the gathering of data in a logical manner in order to
become informed about something
Ways of Knowing
1. Use our own experiences to gain knowledge
Trial and error
Make decisions about a problem
Develop knowledge to solve
o Misleading
Everyone’s experiences are different
2. The knowledge of others
o Tried-and-true practices over time become evidence-based practices
o Faulty information
3. Traditions
o Knowledge that is passed down over time
o Some tradition is the least reliable source
4. Scientific methods
o Answer our questions
o Misconception: studies are large experiments that are able to solve whole
o Truth: small incremental steps
o One study is not sufficient to apply to everyone
Explore all possible ways of knowing social work practice
Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed-Method Research
Qualitative research: developing knowledge where little or none exists, and it uses
words, observations, and descriptions to develop this knowledge
o Relies on information generated from observations of the researcher and
discussions and interviews with study participants
Quantitative research: expanding knowledge that already exists and using numerical
data to report the finds from the research
o Determine how one variable affects another in population
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