Module 3 Introduction

In this module, we build on what we learned in earlier modules about the nature of our research questions concerning diverse populations and the problems that social workers address. This module affords us the opportunity to become familiar with several different approaches for answering questions about populations and social work problems. We explore the philosophies and assumptions underlying quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods approaches, and we analyze various advantages/disadvantages associated with their use. We describe and analyze different types of study designs used to answer population and social work problem questions (survey, group comparison/experimental, grounded theory, narrative/ethnography, and others). We explore:

  • Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches to understanding diverse populations,social work problems, and social phenomena;
  • The types of approaches used for drawing samples for different study design;
  • Measurement strategies for different types of variables (independent, dependent, categorical, continuous);
  • Varied approaches to data collection (e.g., observation, interview, self-administered survey, online surveys, focus groups, and others), and cultural competence in measurement


After engaging with these reading materials and learning resources, you should be able to:

  • Identify the similarities and differences underlying qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods study approaches, and how they relate to different types of research questions;
  • Recognize different qualitative research traditions;
  • Describe longitudinal and cross-sectional approaches to designing research studies and how they relate to different types of research questions;
  • Recognize different types of quantitative variables and how they relate to our research questions;
  • Identify advantages and disadvantages of various measurement and data collection strategies;
  • Critique measurement and data collection approaches on the dimension of cultural competence;
  • Explain basic principles associated with designing a plan for who might be engaged as participants in research studies about diverse populations and social work problems;
  • Define key terms related to social work research approaches and methods.


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Social Work 3401 Coursebook Copyright © by Dr. Audrey Begun is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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