At the end of the course, students will be able to… (between brackets the number of the corresponding intended learning qualification of the programme):
- formulate a clear empirical research question, with clear units of analysis, variables and with a well-defined descriptive and/or explanatory aim (2.1, 2.2);
- formulate a well-phrased and testable causal hypothesis (2.1);
- identify and comprehend the implications of a causal statement (correlation, time order, and the absence of a third variable) (2.1);
- select an appropriate research design and have knowledge about the factors that may undermine validity associated with the various designs (2.1);
- distinguish between various methods of data collection and knowing how operationalizations can be assessed using the criteria of reliability and validity (2.3);
- distinguish methods to sample data from a larger population, identify possible biases introduced in the sampling process, and understand how statistical inference is based on sampled data (2.1);
- describe and visualize data, using an appropriate statistical program, in frequency tables, bar charts, histograms and box plots (2.1);
- describe the relationship between variables, using bivariate tables and scatterplots (2.1);
- Take a reasoned decision as to what method of data collection to use, and substantiate their decision with arguments (2.3);
- Name various interviewing techniques and explain when they can or cannot be applied (2.3);
- Calculate interrater reliability (measures of agreement, Cohen’s kappa) (2.3);
- Name and discuss various types of sampling (2.3);
- List basic rules for designing a valid questionnaire study (2.3).
In this course, the basic principles of empirical research in the social sciences are introduced. Both the role of research in the context of academic science (i.e. description and testing of theories) and research in the context of problem solving and design will be discussed. Students will learn how to formulate clear and answerable empirical research questions and how to select from various correlational and experimental research designs and different data collection methods (e.g. observation, interviews, questionnaires, and content analysis) to answer these research questions. Students will develop a first understanding of the concepts of validity and reliability and will comprehend factors that may undermine validity of research. Further, students will get a basic understanding of descriptive and inferential data analysis using the statistical software package R. The acquired knowledge and insights will be tested through an individual written exam (1R1).|
This study unit is part of the module We connect society. Because the four study units, which are part of the module, are highly related to each other it is not possible to follow this study unit separately.