7400.685-080 - Research Methods in FCS
School of Family and Consumer Sciences
Spring Semesters - Monday Evenings 5:20-7:55pm in 108 Schrank Hall South
Instructor: David D. Witt, Ph.D.
Office Hours: 30 minutes before class and by appointment - Email david27@uakron.edu

Spring 2006 Student Research Plans --- Spring 2007 Student Research Plans
Student Research Plans for Spring 2008

Be aware of clickable assignments scattered throughout the syllabus
Students  - Please Evaluate this class here http://www3.uakron.edu/witt/evalform.htm

PURPOSE OF THE COURSE: To provide an introduction to research methodology and practice sufficient for students to perform the supervised research required for graduate students at the master's level in social sciences. Additionally, students are encouraged to be good consumers of research in their various specialty areas. Basic methods of research and analysis, experimental designs, secondary and content analysis, small group designs and historical perspectives are covered.  This is a skills class, and as such, one must practice to gain facility.

It is of great importance to stay on top of your reading, assignments, lectures, and responsibilities in order to develop the skills necessary to begin your life as a researcher
.  Students who have not done so have often failed their comprehensive examinations. Your job is to take the course seriously and apply what we discuss to your own specific discipline.

By end of the semester, students should be capable of:
  • Viewing scientific research from the role of both the scientist and the consumer of science.
  • Formulating researchable questions for purposes of advancing their own knowledge and the knowledge of others in "family and consumer science" disciplines.
  • Explaining the importance of theory in the research process, and extrapolating from theory to researchable hypotheses.
  • Initiating research projects in their area of "family and consumer science" through the application of the principles of scientific research design.
  • Describing and applying the research process, from the principles of measurement, sampling, and data collection, through to the selection of appropriate statistical analysis, evaluation and writing final research reports.
HOW TO STUDY FOR THIS COURSE: Student responsibilities for this class are to:
  • Come to class every week without fail. We are on a tight schedule - attendance is expected - no exceptions.
  • Read assignments twice prior to class - once for general familiarity - once for understanding.
  • During class, listen to lecture, take notes, and ask questions.
  • Turn in all assignments on or before their due date. There is no opportunity to make up missed assignments.
  • See instructor outside of class as often as necessary.
  • Students may work together while preparing essays, homework, or other assignments to further understanding of the material. However, your final drafts must be in your own words and written according to your personal understanding of the methods discussed.
GRADING /ASSIGNMENTS: The total points possible for the class is 450, and account for three different activities:
  • 50 points each for three take home examinations as well . These are various exercises designed to allow the demonstration of the student's command of lecture/text concepts. (150 points total)
  • 5 points each for ten in-class quizzes given throughout the semester, designed to keep students reading and interested in the course. Quizzes will cover the week's reading assignments in broad terms (50 points total).
  • 20 points each for ten homework assignments based on statistical computation and various forms of methodology and other aspects of the class (200 points total)
  • 50 points for a Preliminary Draft of the methodology chapter of your thesis, internship, major project, or some other research project. Due May 1st - This assignment is due at the end of the semester, but should be considered during every part of the course. (50 points total).
TEXTBOOK:  The process using for our particular students defies textbook selection. However, I am confident in providing basic notes and detailed assignments online for students in this class. There are reference books student may purchase or obtain through library resources that would ultimately be helpful but not absolutely necessary. For those interested in further reading, see :
  • An Invitation to Social Research: How It's Done, International Edition, 4th Edition Emily Stier Adler   |  Roger Clark ISBN-10:0840032382
  • Introduction to Social Research, International Edition, 5th Edition Earl R. Babbie  ISBN-10:084003220X  |  ISBN-13:9780840032201
  • Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal at http://www.aafcs.org/Resources/Research.asps
Students are responsible for reading everything below and performing assignments where they are listed.
The cut and paste method for processing online information

Jan. 9th - Week 1  -  Foundations - Online Notes:
                           Jumping way ahead - How To Write a Thesis/project Proposal
Quiz #1 first night - tonight - on your research plans

Jan. 16th - Week 2 - No Class - MLK Day.

Jan. 23rd Week 3 and Jan. 30th Week 4 - Types of Research, Sampling - Statistics - Online Notes:

Quiz #2 tonight on Finding a Research Topic

Feb. 6th Week 5 - Take Home Exam #1 due tonight
- Measurement and Data Collection - Online Notes:
Quiz #3 tonight on Operationalization of Variables

Feb. 13th Week 6  -  Survey Research - More Stats - Online Notes:

Quiz #4 tonight on Data Collection Instruments and Techniques

Important - Go to http://www.surveygizmo.com/free-student-account/ and open a free student account.
We'll be using Survey Gizmo to illustrate several traditional data gathering and analysis techniques using this service.

Feb 20th Week 7 - Review to this point and Catch up
        Introduction to Online Survey Building, Data Collection, and Analysis.

Feb. 27th Week 8 - Scales and Indexes - Online Notes:
Quiz #5 tonight on Survey Research

Mar. 5th Week 9  - Qualitative and Unobstrusive Designs -
Quiz #6 tonight on Basic Statistics

Mar. 12-18th - SPRING BREAK

Mar. 19th Week 10 - Experimental and Quasi-experimental Designs -Online Notes:
Quiz #7 on Secondary Analysis

Mar. 26th - Research Proposals, Grants, Online Surveys, Evaluation Research - Online Notes:
Quiz #8 on Experimental Designs

Apr. 2nd - Week 12 - Review and Catchup   

Apr. 9th Week 13
- Analysis for Research Designs
Quiz #9 tonight

Apr. 16th Week 14 - The Write Up - Online Notes for:
Quiz #10 tonight on Fielding a Thesis/Project Committee

Apr. 23rd Week 15 - Discussion of Your Research Interests - Preliminary Draft due tonight

May 2nd -  Finals Week Take Home Exam #3 and all final assignments due Tonight