9206 Lecture2 Research Flo
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SOAD9206 Social Work Research in Practice Settings
Lecture 2: The Research Questionand questionnaires
Terms you will come across in the literature:QualitativeQuantitativeMixed methods
Deductive Approach hypothesisTheory testingTheorising comes before research and research then functions to produce empirical evidence to test or refute theories (May 1997:30)Research aims at validating an hypothesisBuild up theoryTest theory
Deductive hypothesis examplesPassive smoking has a negative impact on healthObesity puts people at greater risk of diabetesCBT helps people manage mild depressionUnemployment has a negative impact on health
Inductive Approach Research QuestionTheory Buildingone that examines particular aspects of social life and creates theory in relation to previous dataSeeks to generate theoretical propositions from the data collectedObservation??researchtheory
Inductive research question examplesWhat are the social issues affecting people with diabetes?What are the needs of residents in the area?How do people experience our social work service in X location?What are the issues associated with fuel poverty?
With inductive approaches, we are at an advantage in social work because we are immersed in the work
It is best to begin, I think, by reminding you, the beginning student, that the most admirable thinkers within the scholarly community you have chosen to join do not split their work from their lives What this means is that you must learn to use your life experience in your intellectual work: continually to examine and interpret it. In this sense craftsmanship is the centre of yourself and you are personally involved in every intellectual product upon which you may work.- C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination
The research question is what exactly?The question which will guide all aspects of the research, from its inception to disseminationnarrows down the field of interestIs very, very specific
Narrowing down is crucial in creating a research questionNeed to considerWhoWhatWhyWhenHow and so ontimeAdapted from Dunk-West 2013, p. 132
Things to consider when creating the research question (DCruz & Jones 2006)Why and how the research has come aboutThe you in the asking (DCruz & Jones; Alston & Bowles 1998)Who gets to ask the questions?Constraints such as budget, time, availability of participants (Sarantakos 2005, p. 131)
The investigator uses research to answer a specific, or a number of specific questions using a participant sample
What are the current experiences of newly arrived refugee children in South Australia?
We will now move on to consider a particular method questionnaires and how to ask questions within themIn social work we are used to asking questions, building rapport and so on these skills are transferrable to researchquestionnaire construction is a very demanding task which requires not only methodological competence but also extensive experience with research in general and questioning techniques in particular (Sarantakos 2013, p. 241).
QuestionnairesQuestionnaires can produce both quantitative and qualitative data
The quantitative derives from asking straightforward questions
The qualitative is more of an exploration of general views
Hypothesis: university resources meet student requirements
5- point Likert scale:
I am happy with the library facilities1 2 3 4 5 Stronglystrongly agreeagree neutraldisagree disagree
Research question: how do students experience university resources?Example of qualitative question:
In your own words, please tell us how you have experienced university resources (including the library, student areas and so on):______________________________________________________________________________________________________
Questionnaire MethodologiesIn what social context is the questionnaireutilised?
Face-to-faceTelephone OnlineEmailed to respondent by the researcherInterview (structured)
Questionnaire MethodologiesSampling within the different contexts:
Face-to-face: could be self-selecting, snowball, opportunityTelephone: Will generally be opportunity, randomWebsites: Self-selecting, often in response to advertisement
Advantages of questionnairesWhat is good about the questionnaire method?
It is quickIt is cheapIt tackles what we want to measure fairly well, as long as it is reliable and validUseful for reaching large numbers of participantsGood coverage, particularly online
Problems with questionnairesWhat is not so good about the questionnaire method?Participants can be put off long questionnairesMay not tap into true opinions (biases, validity)May not reflect experience very well at all if there are no qualitative questions (qualitative critique)Balance of power (researcher-participant)
Problems with questionnairesSocial desirability bias
Showing how much you know
Our empathy, helping behaviour example- we want to show we are nice, empathic, helpful people
Does this truly reflect how we are as people?
Problems with questionnairesResponse Acquiescence:
Just saying yes to everything!
General tendency to agree rather than disagree
Can happen when questionnaires are very long
Problems with questionnairesThe balance of power
Particular issue in face-to-face, interview style questionnaires
The possibility of power imbalance leading to biased responses
Resolving power imbalancesTo help resolve the balance of power the researcher should always:
Spend time building rapport (similar to initial counselling sessions)- tuning in, empathy, use social work skills
Resolving power imbalancesResolving the imbalance of power
Treating the participant as a colleague not a subject of experimentation (respect)- what researchers should always remember is that the people they have asked are probably the experts as they have been chosen for a specific reason in the first place
Problems with question typesProblems with question types:
Some questions can be poorly wordedThey can lead or confuse participantsThis in turn leads participants to leave sections blank and their overall questionnaire is worthless for data analysis
Problems with question types
Double-barrelled- I believe whaling and seal culling should be banned
Which does the researcher want to know about- whaling or seal culling?
Here two questions are effectively being asked in one
There is the possibility the participant has very different views about the two areas of whaling and seal culling
Problems with question typesOverly complex questions:
Often too long
Rule of thumb: Keep questions below 10-15 words
Problems with question typesJargon:
Using words which the participants may be unsure of, simply because they do not study your subject
Problems with question typesUsing negatives, particularly double negatives:
I do not think that Tony Abbott was incorrect in his environmental policies
Problems with question typesHighly emotive language:
It is a disgrace that social workers do not receive the money they rightly deserve
Problems with question typesLeading questions:
As it sounds, the researcher leads the participants to the answer
Dont you think the needs of people would be better served if social workers had more money?
Problems with question typesInvasion of privacy
Do you have a criminal record?
Problems with question typesBalance of scaled items (Coolican, 2004)
How much have you enjoyed the course?
Very much, quite a lot, a lot, a little, not much, didnt like it at all
Problems with question typesSensitivity of scale items to level of measurement (Coolican, 2004)
Research example: want to know the degree to which participants believe either a female victim is PARTLY responsible for the attack by wearing provocative clothing, whilst alone in a street
Problems with question typesResearcher asks the question:
Who do you think is more responsible:
The man ORThe woman?
Problems with question typesBetter question:On a scale of 1-10 (not responsible at all- entirely responsible), how responsible for the attack do you feel was:The man1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
The woman1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Example of methods, including questionnairehttp://www.open.ac.uk/researchprojects/enduringlove/methods