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Chapter Ruben, A.

SWP 538 Chapter Notes - Chapter Ruben, A. : Longitudinal Study, Institutional Review Board, Structured Interview

Social Work
Course Code
SWP 538
Susan Preston
Ruben, A.

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Practice and research begin with the formulation of a problem
o Recognizing a difficulty
o Defining the difficulty
o Specifying the difficulty
Generate, explore, and select alternative strategies for solving the problem
Implement the chosen approach, evaluate it, disseminate their findings
Research Purposes in Qualitative and Quantitative Studies
E.g. a study with purpose of generating insights about a new phenomenon qualitative
E.g. a study testing whether an intervention is truly effective quantitative research
Exploration: to provide a beginning familiarity with the topic
o Employ qualitative and/or quantitative methods
o Many qualitative studies are exploratory
o Not uncommon to see exploratory quantitative studies
Description: to describe situations and events
o Follow a qualitative and/or quantitative method
o Quantitative studies:
Characteristics of a population; based on data obtained from a sample of
people that is thought to representative of the population
Concerned with the objectivity, precision, and generalizability of the
o Qualitative studies:
A thicker examination of phenomena and their deeper meanings
Concerned with conveying a sense of what it’s like to walk in the shoes of
the people being described
Explanation: to explain things
o Follow qualitative and/or quantitative methods
o Quantitative studies:
Start out with a hypothesis about some factor that helps explain the
phenomenon, and then test that hypothesis
o Qualitative studies:
Conduct in-depth, probing and relatively instructed interviews
Evaluation: evaluate social policies, programs and interventions
o Encompasses exploration, description, and explanation
o Whether social policies, programs, or services are effective in achieving their
stated goals
o Evaluations of goal achievement can be done in an exploratory, descriptive, or
explanatory way
o Quantitative studies:
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E.g., evaluate the proportion of service recipients who achieve treatment
o Qualitative studies:
E.g., evaluate the problems residents report having and the services they
say they need
o Call it explanatory only when the study design enabled us to determine whether
it was really our service and not some other factor
Constructing measurement instruments
o Some quantitative studies aim to develop and test out measurement
instruments that can be used by other researchers or by practitioners as part of
the assessment or evaluation aspects of their practice
o Rather developing implications for practice; ask whether a particular
measurement instrument is a useful and valid tool that can be applied in practice
or research
Multiple purposes
o Explanatory: i.e., explain why so many homeless people refuse to sleep in a
shelter for the homeless
o Exploratory: i.e., methods aim merely to gain familiarity with the phenomenon
and generate tentative possible explanations or insights that can be test out
more later in an explanatory study
o Descriptive: i.e., describe their whereabouts - use a carefully structured survey
with a representative sample
Explaining and predicting
o Quantitative explanatory studies test out predictions
o Difference between able to predict something (predict without understanding)
and able to explain or understand it
The findings support a particular hypothesis, but not explain why the
hypothesis was correct
o Possible to improve our understanding of phenomena through a cumulative
research process
The Time Dimension
Cross-sectional studies: studies based on observations that represent a single point in
o Exploratory purposes
Conducted one open-ended, unstructured interview with each client at a
specified period in order to generate insights
o Explanatory purposes
Conducted one structured interview with these clients and with those
who completed their treatment to test the hypothesis
Aim to understand causal processes that occur overtime, but their
conclusions are based on observation made at only one time
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