SOC 397C • Advanced Empirical Methods for Policy Analysis
9:00 AM-12:00 PM
This graduate class forms part of the extended core curriculum in the LBJ School of Public Affairs and is designed to complement existing courses on methods and quantitative techniques of data collection and analysis that already exist at the LBJ School, as well as in the Sociology and Geography departments. Prospective students should note that the large class size requires that the class be taught in a lecture rather than seminar format although much of the work will be conducted in small groups. (This worked quite well in Fall 2006 when there were 35 students.) Specifically, the aim of this course is to develop awareness and expertise in a range of more qualitative survey research methods, approaches and designs, ranging from participant observational techniques through semi-structured interviewing to more formal questionnaire and census-type surveys. The course will also address issues of research project design and targeting, sampling, ethnography, case studies, ethics, data and informational handling arising from the different techniques, as well as the preparation of final reports based upon social survey analysis. Participants will undertake IRB training. Among the specific methods in which training will be offered are: Observational Techniques (participant, "mass", focus groups, social monitoring, etc.); Case Studies; Content Analysis; Focus Groups; "Elite"/Key Informant Interviewing; Questionnaire Design and Application; Qualitative Data Analysis and Presentation/Writing, Behavioral/Psychological testing (TAT Tests, Repertory Grids etc.).
It is designed for two principal constituencies: first, Ph.D. students who are (usually) in the earlier stages of their doctoral programs; and second, Masters students, especially those embarking upon their PR and theses. Following a lecture and discussion format, each class will require students to work in small groups developing a real research design on a topic that will be used throughout the semester, and which will apply each of the techniques in turn. Thus, a primary element of the course is to develop "hands-on" experience in adapting a range of qualitative research techniques to that group's research design. The research question identified usually will be a project for which no definitive outcome is expected, other than that of developing the training exercises itself.
" The principal course text will be Earl Babbie The Basics of Social Research, - Get the latest edition (now in paperback), Wadsworth. Alternatively a used edition will serve you well. " I also strongly recommend that you consider purchasing Rethinking Social Enquiry: Diverse tools, shared standards. It is edited by Henry E Brady and David Collier, 2004, Bowman and Littlefield, $28 in paperback. It is especially good for Latin Americanists. And maybe also: " David Morgan, 1997. Focus Groups as Qualitative Research. (Sage), paperback. " Mildred Pattern, 1997. Questionnaire Research: A Practical Guide, Pryzcak.