UNIVERSITY OF HARTFORD

SCHOOL OF COMMUNICATION

CMM 311: INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH METHODS

IN COMMUNICATION

FALL 2002

 

Instructor:      Edward T. Vieira, Jr.                             Email:   vieira@hartford.edu

Class Meeting Times: MWF: 8:30-9:20 AM                              edvieira@cox.net

Classroom Location:   Auerbach Hall, Rm. A-322        Off. Tel.: (860) 768-5418

Office Hours: M: 10:45-12:45 PM,                               Place:   H.J.G. Rm. E-225

W: 3:00-4:00 PM, &                                                   Mailbox: H.J.G. Rm. E-222

F: 11:00-1:00 PM or by appointment

 

REQUIRED TEXTBOOK: Babbie, E. (2001). The Practice of Social

Research. (9th  Edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Thomson Learning.

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This is an introductory research methods course designed

to expose students to quantitative and qualitative research in communication. Topics

include research design, problem formulation, sampling, analytical techniques,

observational techniques, and data interpretation all applicable to the study of

communication. PREREQUISITE: CMM 110 (Introduction to Communication).

 

COURSE REQUIREMENTS: It is my role to provide a stimulating lecture and

facilitate active classroom discussion. You are expected to attend lectures; you are

expected to have done the reading associated with that lecture; you are expected to

participate in any classroom discussion, which are part of the participation grade. In

order to have a successful semester, we must each hold up our end of this arrangement.

In addition, in order to pass this class, all course requirements must be completed.

 

COURSE OBJECTIVES:   -To examine the major research methodologies, and

                                               their advantages and limitations

                                 -To cover the steps involved in conducting research

                                 -To study the process of research report writing

                                 -To understand and conduct basic statistical

                                   procedures

                                 -To facilitate studentsí critical evaluative skills when

                                   examining research

 

COURSE GRADING:         Three Abstracts:                       30%

                                             Midterm Exam:                         30%

                                             Participation & HW:                  10%

                                             Final Exam:                               30%

 

EXAMINATION MATERIAL: Exams will cover all text readings, handouts,

homework assignments, AND lectures. Exams are not cumulative per se; however,

the material builds on itself, and, in that sense, one must be cognizant of previous

concepts covered through the midterm test for the final examination.

 

GENERAL CLASSROOM POLICY: Please note that food and beverages are not

allowed in the classroom, and cell phones must be turned off while class is in session.

Also, this syllabus is subject to modification at the instructor's discretion.


    UNIVERSITY POLICY: Academic Honesty Statement from The Source and

Manual of Academic Policies and Procedures. All students are expected to observe

generally accepted principles of scholarly writing in all examinations, compositions,

papers, essays, tests, quizzes, reports and dissertations whether written in the

classroom or outside. Sources of information used by a student in the preparation of

work submitted as a basis for credit, or for a grade, or to satisfy graduate or

undergraduate thesis requirements shall be clearly indicated in some conventional

manner, such as by the use of quotation marks, footnotes, and bibliography. Also,

students are forbidden to submit as their own any project, paper, or creative work,

which is in whole, or part the work of another. Next, the use of a term paper writing

service, such services being prohibited by Connecticut law, is academically dishonest

and violate rules of scholarship. Moreover, all examinations and quizzes are to be

completed without reference to books or notes, except when the instructor of a course

shall have given explicit authorization for an "open-book examination" or some other

specified sort of assistance. Except as authorized by the instructor, no student is to

give or receive assistance in the completion of an examination or a quiz.

 

DATE           TOPIC                                                            REQUIRED READINGS

 

9/4     Introduction to the course and review of syllabus and course requirements

(Wed.)

 

9/6     Research perspectives                                                               Chapter 1

 

9/9     Paradigms                                                                                 Chapter 2

 

9/11   Theory

 

9/13   Causality                                                                                   Chapter 3

 

9/16   Research Design                                                                       Chapter 4

 

9/18   Research Design

 

9/20   Research Design

 

9/23   Conceptualization & operationalization                                        Chapter 5

 

9/25   Conceptualization & operationalization

         Assignment of Article 1 for Abstract 1

 

9/27   Scales                                                                                       Chapter 6

 

10/2   Scales, validity and reliability

 

10/4   Typologies and ABSTRACT 1 IS DUE AT THE BEGINNING OF CLASS

 

10/7   Sampling                                                                                   Chapter 7

 

10/9   Sampling

 

10/11 Sampling

 

10/14 Review for midterm & experiments                                         Chapter 8

 

10/16 Experiments

 

10/18 Experiments

 

10/21 MIDTERM EXAM (Chapter 1-8, inclusive)

 

10/23 Surveys                                                                                     Chapter 9

 

10/25 Surveys

 

10/28 Surveys

 

10/30 Surveys & Assignment of Article 2 for Abstract 2

 

11/1   Qualitative field research                                                           Chapter 10

 

11/4   Unobtrusive measures                                                               Chapter 11

 

11/6   Unobtrusive measures

 

11/8   Evaluative research &                                                               Chapter 12

ABSTRACT 2 IS DUE AT THE BEGINNING OF CLASS

 

11/11 Qualitative data analysis                                                             Chapter 13

 

11/13 Qualitative data analysis

 

11/15 Quantitative data analysis                                                           Chapters 14-17

 

11/18 Quantitative data analysis

 

11/20 Quantitative data analysis

 

11/22 Quantitative data analysis & assignment of Article 3 for Abstract 3

 

11/25 Quantitative data analysis

 

12/2   Quantitative data analysis

 

12/4   Quantitative data analysis & ABSTRACT 3 IS DUE AT THE BEGINNING

                                                                                 OF CLASS

 

12/6   Quantitative data analysis

 

12/9   Quantitative data analysis

 

12/11 Quantitative data analysis

 

12/13 Review for final examination

 

12/17 FINAL EXAMINATION ON TUESDAY FROM 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM

(NOTE: Homework assignments and additional advertising article readings will be

given accordingly.)

 

Abstract Templates

 

EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN:

 

 

IDENTIFICATION: Authors' names, year of publication, title of study, title of

journal, volume number, and pages. (Use APA style.)

 

 

1. Independent Variables:

 

a. What variable(s) were manipulated (systematically varied)? (e.g., "exposure to

aggressive TV")

b. How many levels were there of each manipulation or factor? What were the

levels? Describe in a way that reveals all the conditions.  (e.g., "no TV, half hour

of 'Cops,' one hour of 'Cops' ")

c. Which factors were between-subjects (different subjects received different

treatments)? Which (if any) factors were within-subjects (the same subjects

received a series of treatments)?

 

2. Dependent Measures:

 

a. What types of behaviors or responses were measured? (e.g., "subjects'

subsequent aggression")

b. How were they measured (operationalized)? List the scales or behavioral

options used.  (e.g., "intensity of shocks given later")

 

THEORIES, RATIONALE, AND PREDICTIONS:

 

         a. What did the researchers expect to be the result (s)? (e.g.,"expected highest

         level of aggression in one-hour 'Cops' condition, lowest level in no-TV

         condition").

b. Why did they expect this? Briefly, what mechanisms did they think would

produce the expected results? (e.g., "expected violence in shows to stimulate

aggressive thoughts").

 

SAMPLE:

 

Subjects:        a. How many?

                     b. If relevant, what was the gender/ethnic/age breakdown?

                     c. Where did they come from? (e.g., college undergraduates)

                     d. How were they induced to participate?

 

PROCEDURE:

 

a. Were subjects tested individually or in a group or groups?

b. Briefly describe the sequence of events that happened to subjects (e.g., "filled

out the viewing questionnaire, watched the program, took part in 'learning study'

and gave shock 'feedback' to confederate). Mention deception if applicable.

 

MAJOR RESULTS:

 

State whether there were significant effects on the major dependent variables

and whether this supported or contradicted the hypotheses. (e.g., "Kids seeing

hour or half-hour of 'Cops' gave significantly more intense shocks than no-TV

kids. No significant difference between the two 'Cops' conditions. Partial

support for hypothesis. Had thought level of shock would be a function of

amount of exposure to the program"). Exact numbers and statistics not

necessary.

 

DISCUSSION:

 

a. What problems do you or the authors see with this experiment--problems with

design, choice of sample, operationalizations, etc. (e.g., " 'Cops' episode was very

repetitive. Very little difference between first and second half-hour").

b. What alternative explanations could exist for their findings, if any? (e.g., "one-

half vs. one hour may have differed if second half-hour had been more distinct

from first.")

 

 

SURVEY DESIGN:

 

IDENTIFICATION: Authors' names, year of publication, title of study, title of

journal, volume number, and pages. (Use APA style.)

 

   1. Predictor Variables (like independent variables in an experiment):

a. What variable(s) were measured that were believed to predict the variables of

interest? (e.g., "age, gender, amount of viewing").

b. How were they measured? Describe the range of questions asked and give the

range of response scales ("yes/no; 7-point scale," etc. E. g., operationalization of

misbehavior as number of times sent to the principal's office.

               2. Criterion Variables (like dependent variables in an experiment):

a.  What were the variables that were to be predicted' by the predictor variables?

(e.g., "misbehavior in school")

b. How were they measured (types of questions and scales used, e.g., "parents

reports of hours per week their child viewed violent programs; school records of

frequency of students' visits to the principal").

 

THEORIES, RATIONALE AND PREDICTIONS:

 

a. What did the researchers expect to be the result(s)? (e.g., "expected higher

viewing to be associated with more visits to the principal").

b. Why did they expect this? Briefly, what mechanisms did they think would

produce the expected results? (e.g., "expected violence viewing would teach

kids how to misbehave").

 

SAMPLE:

 

Respondents:

a. How many were there?

b. If relevant, what was the gender/ethnic/age breakdown?

c. Where did they come from? (e.g., "all students in one public school in New

                  Jersey")

 

PROCEDURE:

 

a. How was the they administered? (e.g., phone, face-to-face, mailed)

b. How was the survey introduced and what were subjects told about its

purpose? (e.g., "parents told was done by Dept. of Corn Arts and was a study

of television viewing")

 

MAJOR RESULTS:

 

State whether there were significant relationships between any of the major

predictor variables and the criterion variables and indicate whether this supported

or contradicted the hypotheses. (e.g., "amount of violence viewing was positively

correlated with the number of times being sent to the principal for bad behavior,

even after controlling for grades. Supports learning theory hypothesis.") Exact

numbers and statistics not necessary.

 

DISCUSSION:

 

a. What problems do you or the authors see with this survey--problems with

design, choice of sample, operationalizations, etc. (e.g., "amount of violence

viewing was measured retrospectively by parents and may have suffered from

memory distortions; overall viewing was not measured. Perhaps effects were

due to TV viewing in general and not violence viewing specifically. Also,

socioeconomic status was not measured.)

b. What alternative explanations could exist for their findings, if any?

("Perhaps low socioeconomic status kids are more likely to be sent to the

principal than to be dealt with by the teacher. They also tend to watch more

violent TV. Perhaps TV viewing and trips to the principal's office are both

independently influenced

by socioeconomic status.")

 

 

CONTENT ANALYTICAL DESIGN:

 

IDENTIFICATION: Authors' names, year of publication, title of study, title of

journal, volume number, and pages. (Use APA style.)

 

1. Unit of Analysis (the item that is categorized or tallied, e.g., character, ad)

 

2. Coding Scheme

 

a. What groups are being compared in each coding scheme? (e.g., "boy vs. and

girl characters in toy commercials")

b. What were the categories used to classify the content? That is, how were

portrayals classified? (e.g., "position: sitting, standing still, moving about")

c. What were the definitions for the major categories? (e.g., "judges indicated the

position the character was in for the longest period of time he/she appeared on

screen").

 

THEORIES, RATIONALE AND PREDICTIONS:

 

a. What did the researchers expect to be the result(s)? (e.g., expected girls to be

depicted as more sedentary and less mobile than boys."

b. Why did they expect this? Briefly, what mechanisms did they think would

produce the expected results? (e.g., "expected content of ads to conform to

gender stereotypes about activity levels").

 

SAMPLE:

 

a. What was the population of interest? (e.g., "ads on Saturday morning TV")

b. How was the sample selected? (e.g., "taped all ads on programs aimed at

kids on Saturday morning on NBC, CBS, NBC, and FOX on one Saturday morning")

 

PROCEDURE:

 

a. How many coders 'were there? Describe their procedures.

b. How was reliability assessed?

 

MAJOR RESULTS:

 

For each of the major coding schemes, state whether there were significant or

nonsignificant differences, and whether this supported or contradicted the

hypotheses. (e.g., "a higher proportion of girl characters than boy characters

were shown sitting down; this relationship did not hold for the FOX network")

Exact numbers and statistics not necessary.

 

DISCUSSION

 

a. What problems do you or the authors see with this content analysis--

problems with design, choice of sample, operationalizations, etc. (e.g., coding

schemes neglected to look at type of toy).

b. What alternative explanations could exist for their findings, if any? ("The

finding could be due to the type of toys marketed to boys v. girls, rather than to

how girls vs. boys are generally depicted. Reanalyzing data by type of toy

might explore this possibility."

 

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