Fall 2006 Course Description

Advanced Empirical Methods for Policy Analysis

Section Title: Qualitative Methods for the Social Sciences
Instructor(s): Peter Ward
Course: P A 397C - Advanced Empirical Methods for Policy Analysis
(previously Applied Quantitative Analysis II)
Unique Number: 65535
Day & Time: Tuesdays, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Room: SRH 3.109
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information
Notes: Cross-list with GRG 363; LAS 381; SOC 398L

Description: This graduate class forms part of the newly 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 larger 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. Specifically, the aim of this course is to develop awareness and expertise in a range of qualitative survey research methods, approaches, and designs, ranging from 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, IRB compliance, 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. Among the specific methods in which training will be offered are: Observational Techniques (participant, "mass", focus groups, social monitoring, etc.); Content Analysis; Focus Groups; "Elite"/Key Informant Interviewing; Questionnaire Design and Application; Behavioral/Psychological testing (TAT Tests, Repertory Grids etc.).

It is designed for two principal constituencies: first, Ph.D. students who are 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 using pre-circulated notes, each class will require students to work in small groups developing a real research design around a suitable topic that will be used throughout the semester, embracing each of the techniques in turn. Thus, a primary part of the course will be to develop "hands-on" experience in adapting and applying each technique to that individual 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. Thus, there will be a substantial practical component to this course outside of class hours as students develop and apply each technique as part of their own mini-research design agenda. All students will need to log onto the Blackboard, since this will be the principal mechanism for information dissemination, and group liaison.

Key Texts

  • 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.

  • Brady, Henry and Collier, David (eds) 2004. Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards. Rowman and Littlefield (paper $27.95).

  • David Morgan, 1997. Focus Groups as Qualitative Research. (Sage), paperback.

  • Mildred Pattern, 1997. Questionnaire Research: A Practical Guide, Pryzcak.

  • Additionally I will assign some reading each week, hopefully via the Electronic Blackboard.

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