By now, you should be aware that the findings from a research study are only part of the story. As a consumer, hoping to inform practice by use of an evidence base, you want to know much more. A sound research study includes all the steps highlighted in previous weeks: reviewing existing literature, focusing a research question, choosing a qualitative or quantitative method for answering the question, designing the study including selection of data collection procedures and/or measures, procedures used, data analysis plan, and findings. In addition, the study commonly discusses how ethical concerns were addressed and acknowledges the limitations of the study. For this assignment, you review a published research study with two purposes in mind:
Submit a 7-10 page critique and review of the article, which includes the title page and the reference list. Follow the guidelines below:
Be sure to include the questions in your critique. This will cause your SafeAssign report to show high similarity to other students' papers. However, do not be concerned about that. Do, however, appropriately paraphrase and cite specific details from the article you review.
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SOCW 6301: Week 10 Assignment Guidelines
Qualitative Article Review and Critique
In approximately 7-10 pages (including title page and references), address the following questions.
After reading the entire article, do you think the title adequately describes the study? Does the title catch your attention? Please explain.
Does the abstract contain the recommended content (see “Abstract,” pp. 314, in Yegidis et al.)? How difficult do you think it is to summarize so much information in 150–250 words? Please explain.
Why did the authors conduct this study and write this article? What was the problem of interest or concern? Be specific. Use quotes and paraphrases with citations. What audience might be interested in this study?
Do you feel the problem is significant enough to warrant a journal article?
Did you have a “so what” reaction? If so, why do you think it was accepted for publication? Please justify your position.
To what extent does the literature presented in the introduction help you
understand the problem? How does the literature reviewed put the problem in context? Be specific.
Does the researcher indicate how this research is different from and/or
similar to earlier ones reported in the literature? Summarize what this article intends to add to the knowledge base.
Do the authors state their research questions and/or hypotheses? What
are the hypotheses or focused research questions?
What specific qualitative method is used? How does a qualitative research design correspond with the research questions? Can you determine whether the design was appropriate?
© 2016 Laureate Education, Inc. 2
To what extent can the design answer the research questions? Elaborate.
What were the key concepts being explored in the study? What measures or observations were used in the research? Explain why you do, or do not, think that the methods used to collect the data are described clearly enough to allow for replication. Be specific and please elaborate.
How was research reactivity and bias managed in the study?
Explain whether or not information was provided concerning the credibility
and trustworthiness of the measures or observations. Was this information adequate? Be specific.
What strategies were used to establish credibility?
Was there evidence of an audit trail and/or peer consultation on the project?
How were the participants recruited or selected for the study? What sampling strategy was used? Did the author(s) offer any justification for the sample size? Are you satisfied with the information reported about the sample? What questions might you have about the sample that were not addressed? Please be sure to provide an explanation for all of your answers.
Are the demographics of the participants (e.g., background characteristics
such as age, race, etc.) described in sufficient detail? If so, how is the presentation of this descriptive data useful in evaluating the research? If not, please explain how that may affect the evaluation of the research.
Was the sample reflective of the population from which it was drawn? Is
representativeness important in this research? Please explain.
Please explain any ethical concerns you may have about the sample and how
the sample was recruited.
How were the data analyzed? (What qualitative data analysis technique was used?)
How extensive or ‘thick’ were the descriptions supporting findings? Was
the context adequately described?
How did the researchers corroborate their findings? For example, were
triangulation, member checking, or thick descriptions used? If so,
© 2016 Laureate Education, Inc. 3
please explain how it was used. If not, explain what you would recommend to corroborate the findings.
To what degree do you find the research procedures increased the trustworthiness of the findings?
Explain how easy or difficult it was for you to understand the reporting of results. What questions do you have after reading the results section? Please elaborate.
Were the findings transferable, applicable or useful for your population, setting or area of practice? What are the limits of transferability?
Do you feel the results of this study have meaning for social work practitioners or managers? Please elaborate.
Explain whether or not the authors made sense of their data in the discussion section. Explain why you think the conclusions are (or are not) reasonable.
Did the authors discuss the limitations of their study? Did they stay within the limitations of their findings, or did they make more of their findings than was warranted? Please elaborate.
Did the author(s) suggest issues that future research should consider? If so, were there any surprises? Please elaborate.
Article · September 2007
George Mason Universit
Some of the authors of this publication are also working on these related projects:
Substance Abuse Textbook View project
Dissertation View project
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Social Work Students and the Research Process: Exploring the Thinking, Feeling, and Doing of Research
Tina Maschi, Carolyn Bradley, Robert Youdin, Mary Lou Killian,
Carol Cleaveland, and Rosemary A. Barbera
The purpose of this pilot study was to explore how social work students enrolled in a research course report their thoughts, feelings, and satisfaction with the research process. A pretest and posttest, self-report measures, the State-Trait Anxiety Scale (Y1), and subscales of the Research Process Survey were used to track the thoughts, feelings, and actions of 111 social work research students during a fifteen-week semester. Results of paired sample t-tests revealed that although social work students experienced a decrease in negative thoughts and feelings (e.g., anxiety) about the research process, they were not satisfied with it. These findings have important implications for social work education. Helping students increase not only their positive thoughts and feelings about research but also their satisfaction level can assist with the long-term educational goal to educate social work professionals who can provide high-quality services, evaluate practice, and improve practice, policy, and social service delivery.
Keywords: CSWE accreditation standards, social work education, research, teaching, student writing, student satisfaction, library research
Research coursework is an inevitable part of every social work student’s educational experience and a formative step that shapes how he or she will integrate research knowledge and skills into professional practice. The Council of Social Work Education (2002) Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards mandates that social work education programs provide “qualitative and
Tina Maschi, Ph.D., LCSW, ACSW, is assistant professor in the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, New York City. Carolyn Bradley, Ph.D., LCSW, LCADC, is assistant professor in the Monmouth University Department of Social Work in West Long Branch, New Jersey. Robert Youdin, Ph.D., is lecturer and Mary Lou Killian, Ph.D., is specialist professor in the Monmouth University Department of Social Work, West Long Branch, New Jersey. Carol Cleaveland, Ph.D., LSW, is assistant professor, George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Rosemary A. Barbera, Ph.D., MSS, MA, is assistant professor in the Monmouth University Department of Social Work.
The Journal of Baccalaureate Social Work, Vol. 13, No. 1 (2007)
© 2007 by the Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors. All rights reserved.
quantitative research content” with the explicit purpose that social work students learn to “develop, use, and effectively communicate empirically based knowledge and evidence-based interventions” (p. 12). A common method used to evaluate social work students’ attainment of research knowledge and skills is to require students to write a research proposal or report, a task to which social work research texts often dedicate at least a chapter (e.g., Engel & Schutt, 2005; Friedman, 2006; Kreuger & Neuman, 2005). Conducting research and writing a research report are often carried out over the course of one or two semesters and require social work students to identify a topic, conduct a library literature search, organize and synthesize the literature, craft research questions and/or hypotheses, develop a research design, propose and/or carry out the study, and write the final report.
As systematic as this type of research assignment sounds, more than two decades of literature suggests that social work students often experience negative emotional, cognitive, or behavioral responses to research coursework, particularly during the initial learning stages (Adam, Zosky, & Unrau, 2004; Briar, Weissman, & Rubin, 1981; Secret, Ford, & Rompf, 2003; Taylor, 1990). These common negative feelings, thoughts, and behaviors include anxiety and fear, self-doubt and confusion, and procrastination and task aversion (Davis, 2003; Forte, 1995; Royce & Rompf, 1992; Wilson & Rosenthal, 1993). Research also suggests that prolonged engagement in research often increases students’ sense of self-efficacy and confidence about research (Holden, Anastas, & Meenaghan, 2003; Holden, Meenaghan, Anastas, & Metrey, 2002). Although we have a general understanding of students’ affective or cognitive processes of research, we have yet to fully explore how the interaction of thoughts, feelings, and actions affects social work students’ comprehension and overall satisfaction with the research process. Gaining a better understanding of this process can help educators to identify what emotional, cognitive, and behavioral factors affect social work students’ integration of research knowledge and skills into practice. This information can also be used to develop and improve teaching strategies for students to effectively navigate the thinking, feeling, and doing of research, especially among BSW students, who are often new to research coursework.
The library science profession offers a potential explanation for students’ experiences conducting library research for research papers (Jiao & Onwuegbuzie, 1999; Kracker, 2002). In particular, Carol Kuhlthau (2005) proposed the Information Search Process model, which is a six-stage process and outcome model that describes the dynamic process of students’ emotions, cognitions, and behaviors from the start of the library information search process to the conclusion of the final paper. A progression of thoughts, feelings, and actions are commonly associated with the six steps in the process model, which consists of task initiation, topic selection, prefocus exploration, focus formation, information collection, and search closure.
More than two decades of empirical research on Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process model suggests that students’ initial feelings of confusion and
2 Journal of Baccalaureate Social Work
anxiety at the start of the research assignment (i.e., task initiation and topic selection) commonly transform to confidence, competence, and satisfaction at project completion and search closure (Kuhlthau, 2005; Kuhlthau & Tama, 2001). Similarly, initial vague thoughts about what and how to research often become focused as the project progresses and certain action strategies are used (Kuhlthau, 1993). Despite the longitudinal validation of the Information Search Process model with a wide array of groups such as high school and college students, legal professionals, and public library users (Kuhlthau, 1988, 1993; Kuhlthau & Tama, 2001; Kuhlthau, Turock, George, & Belvin, 1990), the interaction of thoughts and feelings and satisfaction with the research process has not yet been fully explored with social work students.
Therefore, the purpose of this outcome study is to build upon the extant literature by exploring the affective (feelings) and cognitive (thoughts) dimensions among social work students enrolled in a research course that required a final research paper. A pre- and posttest design and a purposive sample using the standardized State-Trait Anxiety Scale (Spielberger, 1983) and the Research Process Survey (Kracker, 2002) were used to examine the thoughts, feelings, and actions of 111 northeastern United States social work students enrolled in a research course. The research question that guided the investigation was, How do social work students enrolled in a research course describe their thoughts, feelings, and satisfaction with the research process at the beginning and completion of a research course that required students to conduct research and write a final report?
Based on a review of the literature, the following hypotheses were tested: Social work students enrolled in a research course will report significantly higher levels of anxiety about the research process at pretest levels than at posttest levels. Social work students enrolled in a research course will report significantly lower levels of positive thoughts, feelings, and satisfaction about the research process at pretest than at posttest levels.
Results of a series of paired t-tests revealed a statistically significant decrease in anxiety and an increase in overall thoughts and feelings about the research process. However, students also reported a decrease in overall satisfaction. These findings suggest that students’ thoughts and feelings at the beginning and end of a research course can significantly change for better or worse. As these findings demonstrated, although social work students experienced a decrease in negative thoughts and feelings (e.g., anxiety) about the research process, this did not also mean they were satisfied with it.
Research on social work students’ experiences of learning research has important implications for social work practice, education, and research. And increased understanding of the co-occurring thoughts, feelings, and actions of social work research students can assist educators and students to normalize common thoughts and feelings about the research process. Strategies also can be developed or improved to enhance their confidence and competence with the process. This increased confidence and competence may in turn translate into their professional lives with the explicit goal of using their research knowledge and skills to “provide high-quality services; to initiate change; to improve practice, policy, and social service delivery; and to evaluate their own practice” (Council on Social Work Education, 2002, p. 12).
An investigation of social work students’ experiences of the research process was conducted in 2005 during the fifteen-week fall semester. The setting was a private midsized liberal arts university in the northeastern United States. The BSW students (2 percent; n = 120) and MSW students (3 percent; n = 210) represented 5 percent of the approximate total student population of 6,100. A pretest and posttest design and a Web-based self-report survey were used to track the thoughts, feelings, and actions of a purposive sample of social work students enrolled in a social work research coursework.
The target population was 153 social work students enrolled in BSW or MSW research courses. Invitations were sent to the 153 students, and 111 social work students agreed to participate in the online survey, resulting in a 73 percent response rate. The majority of the 111 participants were female (82 percent; n = 92), between the ages of nineteen and twenty-four (41 percent; n = 45), and white (79.5 percent; n = 89). Most of them were full-time students (79 percent; n = 78). About one-quarter of the sample (23.8 percent; n = 25) were BSW students, and the majority (76 percent; n = 79) were MSW students. About one of out five students ( n = 23) reported having no prior research course.
The measures for this investigation were used to chronicle the thoughts and feelings of social work students at the beginning (time 1) and end (time 2) of a research assignment. Pretest (baseline) and posttest surveys that included Spielberger’s standardized State-Trait Anxiety Scale were used to track their thoughts and feelings, and the subscales of Kracker’s Research Process Survey were used to track their overall feelings and thoughts and satisfaction with the research process. The Culturally Competent Socio-Demographic Questionnaire (Maschi, Youdin, & Bradley, 2005) was used to gather relevant sociodemographic information.
Anxiety Anxiety was conceptually defined as an “unpleasant emotional state or condition” (Spielberger, 1983, p. 4) often consisting of subjective feelings of tension, apprehension, nervousness, and worry. It was operationalized using the standardized state anxiety form, a self-report survey that consists of twenty items that use a four-item Likert scale (1 = not at all, 2 = somewhat, 3 = moderately so, and 4 = very much so). Participants who complete the survey are asked to describe how they generally feel about their most recent research experience. It includes both negative and positive statements such as “I feel calm,” “I am tense,” “I feel self-confident,” “I feel confused,” and “I feel pleased.” Negative statements were reverse scored prior to the preparation of the summative scale for data analysis purposes.
Thoughts, feelings, and satisfaction with the research process The research process was conceptualized as an awareness of the cognitive and affective dimensions of the research process (Kuhlthau, 2005). It was operationalized by using three subscales of the eighteen-item Research Process Survey. Developed by Kracker (2002), the Research Process Survey is a self-report survey used to measure students’ cognitive and affective awareness and satisfaction with the research process consistent with Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process Model. Social work research students were asked to respond to positive and negative statements about the research process by using a five-point Likert scale (1 = strongly disagree, 2 = disagree, 3 = sometimes, 4 = agree, 5 = strongly agree).
For the purposes of this investigation, three subscales regarding the research process were used: overall thoughts, overall feelings, and satisfaction. The first additive scale, overall thoughts about the research process, consisted of the following two items: “I don’t understand how to do research” and “When looking for a research topic, I usually go with the first idea that comes to mind.” The second additive scale, overall feelings about the research process, was measured using the following two items: “Overall, I dislike the research process” and “I am comfortable with research paper assignments.” The third additive scale, satisfaction with the research process, was composed of the following two items: “I generally feel satisfied with my research” and “I usually feel disappointed with my research.” Negatively worded items were recoded in the reverse direction prior to data analysis.
Demographic variables Maschi, Youdin, and Bradley’s Culturally Competent Socio-Demographic Questionnaire was used to collect demographic information during the initial data collection (time 1). For the purposes of this analysis, the following demographic information was used: student status, age, gender, and race/ethnicity. Student status was measured as a dichotomous variable. Social work students responded that they were BSW or MSW students (0 = BSW; 1 = MSW). Age was measured as a continuous variable and determined by the question “What is your age in years?” Gender was measured as either male or femal
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