Research for Social Work Practice - SO673

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19
(version 2)
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6 15 (7.5) DR JN Warner


Level 3
15 credits





The overall aim of the module is to equip students to become ‘critical consumers’ of research as practitioners by providing them with the knowledge and understanding necessary to evaluate research appropriately and apply findings appropriately in practice.
The module provides an introduction to a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods including different types of interview (narrative, biographical, in-depth, semi-structured, structured) ethnography, focus groups, surveys and questionnaires, experimental and quasi-experimental research, randomised controlled trials, documentary and textual analysis, systematic reviews and meta-analysis, and approaches that involves mixing methods.

The module also includes brief introductions to the techniques involved in analysing both qualitative and quantitative data. It also includes consideration of ethical issues relating to research.
Each week students are provided with research articles that are compulsory reading for discussion in seminars. Each reading provides an example of each method and its potential for addressing research questions relevant for social work practice.

Method of assessment

The assessment of this module comprises one coursework assignment (4,500 words) which involves the critical analysis and comparison of two pieces of research selected by students independently. Of these two pieces of research, one must be a study that utilises a qualitative research strategy and the other a quantitative one. Both studies should have as their main focus the same broad issue (e.g. substance misuse, domestic violence, child neglect).

In this assignment, students are required to explain the relevance and implications of the studies they have selected for social work practice. They must also consider the socio-political context within which research is produced, as it might apply to their selected studies. The assignment MUST include the interpretation of figures/numbers in a table or chart.

Indicative reading

Alston, M and Bowles, W (2003) Research for Social Workers: An Introduction to Methods, London: Routledge

Bryman A (2004) 2nd Ed. Social Research Methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Evans, T and Hardy, M (2010) Evidence and Knowledge for Practice, Cambridge: Polity Press

Gomm R, Needham G & Bullman A (eds) (2006). Evaluating Research in Health & Social Care, London: Sage Publications

Padgett, K (2008) 2nd Ed. Qualitative Methods in Social Work Research, London: Sage

Shaw, I., Briar-Lawson, K., Orme, J and Ruckdeschel, R (2010) The Sage Handbook of Social Work Research, London: Sage

Sheppard, M (2004) Appraising and Using Social Research in the Human Services: An Introduction for Social Work and Health Professionals, London: JKP

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

On successful completing this module students will demonstrate:

12.1 Ability to organise information clearly and coherently in written form
12.2 Ability to analyse and interpret statistical and numerical data in the form of tables, charts and/or graphs
12.3 Ability to manage own learning and deploy time management skills
12.4 Ability to think critically and consider alternative perspectives in analysing and solving problems

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