practicum in sociological research

Students work as a research team with a faculty member on a project to gain hands-on experience in the practice of sociological research. Specific topics covered reflect the methodical approach of the research project. Through direct engagement, students learn about research design, development of data collection tools, data management, and preparation of data for analysis.

course books

Groves, Robert, et al.. 2009. Survey Methodology. Hoboken, New Jersey:John Wiley & Sons. ISBN: 9780470465462

course description

You will learn the theory and practice of survey methods research by participating in the process of fielding a survey to a representative sample of Washington, DC-area residents. In the course, you will learn about survey design, sampling, question wording, and basic inference from sample data. We will focus in particular on common pitfalls that come about in the process of designing surveys.

The course will follow the process used by professional researchers designing surveys for research purposes. In fact, you will be involved in the design of the 2018 DC Area Survey. You will take a theoretical construct, determine how to measure that construct using questions on a survey, and advocate for why such a construct should be included on the survey. The process will expose you to each phase of fielding a survey.

We will discuss basic data management techniques and best practices for documenting data. I will introduce you to statistical software that you use to document data and, in the future, analyze the data that we collect.

This course is the second in the sequence of the "practicum experience'" in the Masters of Arts in Sociology Research and Practice. I expect that students have passed a basic statistics course such as SOCY 621.

course objectives

  • explain the principles of survey design including question design, sampling, statistical inference, and sources of error;
  • develop and test questions to answer a specific research hypothesis;
  • advocate for inclusion of measures on surveys using a scientific justification; and
  • conduct basic data management tasks and descriptive analysis in R;

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