ISBN-13: 9780205879915 978-0205879915
Exercise 1. Evaluation of Research: Overgeneralization
1. What are the two comparison groups in this excerpt?
The two comparison groups are: (a) Gender of the firstborn, and (b) gender of the firstborn’s playmate.
2. Why do you think subjects were paired with younger children, rather than with older children?
Probably to increase the frequency of bossiness (to avoid excessive skew in the dependent variable).
3. Do you agree with the conclusion presented? For example, could differences in “bossiness” be explained by some characteristic of children other than gender? Briefly explain.
Only firstborns participated in the study. Therefore, no firm conclusions about the effect of birth order on bossiness can be made from this study. Alternative explanations could include earlier experiences, such as attendance at daycare or preschool, or involvement in other community or family social activities.
4. Does the conclusion overgeneralize? If so, list the sentence that implies overgeneralization and briefly explain how.
The sentence: “Not only does birth order make a difference in the trait under inquiry, but it has a differential effect on boys and girls.”
Bossiness is a learned behavior. Participants had three to four years to learn their bossiness inclinations prior to the study, and to learn whether they can be more bossy toward girl playmates than toward boy playmates. So we don’t know to what degree the observed differences in the data are due to natural inclinations of girls and boys and to what extent this particular sample may have been exposed to environments that encouraged bossiness in girls more than in boys.
Note: The excerpt is too brief to be sure, but assuming the average “bossiness” score was statistically significantly higher for firstborn girls than for firstborn boys, and the data show girls are more bossy toward girl playmates than toward boy playmates, the conclusions probably are supported.
Exercise 2. Evaluation of Research: “Sticky Theory” in Everyday Life
1. What are the two comparison groups in this opinion?
The groups are identified in the second paragraph: Republicans & conservatives, vs. Democrats and liberals.
Note: Some students will miss that the question asks about the “opinion,” not the traveler groups.
2. What was the main argument by each group? According to this excerpt, how did each group choose their argument?
The main argument by each group was the same, but details could vary by the party holding the Executive Office. “If precisely the same policies had been implemented during the George W. Bush administration, the same loud howls of protests would have been leveled against the TSA and the Bush administration. But the source of the protests would have been Democrats and liberals, and the defense would have come from Republicans and conservatives.”
3. Does either argument display evidence of “sticky theory” beliefs? Briefly explain.
Students should briefly explain sticky theory then explain their evidence.
4. Do you agree with the conclusion presented? Why or why not?
Exercise 3. Examining Everyday Learning: Observation in a Crowded Room.
1. Briefly describe your setting.
2. Rewrite items from your list into a second list of groups of categories that have a common theme. What do you conclude about your observation?
3. The assignment did not provide a specific goal for your observations. For example, if you worked in a frame gallery, your focus might have been primarily on wall decorations. When conducting scientific study the first step is to establish a research goal, often written in the form of a question. Write one question that you could use to focus your observations in the room that you selected. (Example: What types of clothing items does this campus bookstore sell?)
4. Return to the same room. Keeping your research question in mind, again look around for about two minutes. After leaving the room, make a list of the items you can recall. If needed, rewrite the list into groups of categories. Compare your two lists. What do you conclude about the differences between the two lists?
5. Did your research question help you to focus on specific items to answer your research question? Briefly explain the importance of having a research goal.
Note: Be sure students describe their settings and provide a sensible comparison between the two lists. Students also should mention what they learned about the benefits of establishing a goal prior to beginning a project in which they collect data. It is helpful to have students turn in their lists for instructor review. Also, class discussion of a few examples from student lists can reassure students about research and also provide the instructor with chances to emphasize some key points from the chapter, such as the differences and similarities between “science learning” and “everyday learning.”
6. Why is comparison important in social research?
Most research makes comparisons designed to test an “if … then” statement. The idea of an “if … then” comparison generally implies some idea about a cause and effect relationship.
Exercise 4: Examining Everyday Learning: Using a Control
1. What personal characteristics differentiate those who said thank you from those who did not? For example, did more males than females say thank you?
2. Suppose you found that a higher percentage of males than females thanked you. However, you also noticed that most of the males were older than the females. You might wonder: Did gender or age make the difference in how they responded? Repeat the procedure, but this time hold the door open only for people who appear to be 25 or younger. Again record each person’s gender and whether or not s/he said thank you. What can you say now about whether gender differences are due to age?
3. Describe a control other than age from your list of personal characteristics that you could use to conduct another door-opening procedure. Briefly explain how your control would help to see a relationship between saying “thanks” and gender.
4. Look again at the information for the first procedure. In everyday life we typically don’t record people’s behaviors and characteristics. Suppose that you held the door for the same 15 people, without recording, or even noticing, their characteristics and whether they said thanks. What do you think you might recall in a week or two? How would your recollections affect your conclusions?
5. How confident are you with results based on 15 people? Briefly explain (hint: overgeneralization).
Note: Be sure students compare differences between the groups according to their selected personal characteristics. It is helpful to have them turn in their lists for review. Students also should mention what they learned about the benefits of limiting observations by including control variables, and the value of written records in drawing conclusions from data. Some sensible discussion should be included about the limitations from the small sample size.
Also, a few student examples discussed in class can offer reassurance about the research endeavor, and also provide the instructor with chances to emphasize some key points from the chapter, such as the differences and similarities between “science learning” and “everyday learning.”
Exercise 5: Skills Building: Overgeneralization in Everyday Life
Directions: Find an example of overgeneralization in your newspaper. Explain the conclusion, then add your critique. Be ready to hand in a copy of the article.
Note: Instructor examination of a copy of the article can permit clarification of ambiguous answers. Also, selected articles can be reviewed in class.
Exercise 1. Evaluation of Research: Practical Dilemmas
Directions: Read the excerpt on “evaluation of a pregnancy prevention program” in this chapter and answer the following questions.
1. What is the research question? What are the comparison groups?
Did students who were offered pregnancy-prevention services differ in their knowledge, attitudes and behaviors compared to students not offered these services?
2. What are the main findings?
Boys offered the pregnancy-prevention services used the clinic as freely as did girls of the same age. Also, increased and prompt attendance at the clinic and increased used of effective contraception methods reduced pregnancy levels. Furthermore, the younger sexually active teens developed knowledge and behavior patterns usually associated with older teens.
3. Is it harmful to collect student information about sexuality and contraception attitudes and behaviors? Briefly discuss at least one advantage and one disadvantage relevant to the pregnancy prevention program.
Advantages are that the data suggest school-based clinics lower pregnancy rates in this school and postponed coitus, which might be of interest to other schools. Disadvantages are additional costs that likely would involve the school (time, personnel) and potential concerns from parents and the community about the collection of sensitive and sometimes controversial information from students.
4. Explain the benefits of informed consent for this study. Are there disadvantages? Why or why not?
Students should mention benefits provided by the Belmont Report. They also should briefly discuss how ethical issues must be weighed carefully in social research, and that permission is required from an IRB prior to the study.
Exercise 2. Skills Building: Writing Research Questions for Quantitative Research
Directions: Choose a social science topic. You may use one of the topics discussed in this chapter (exclude topics from an excerpt), or select one of your own.
1. Write your topic here (e.g. children’s behavior problems, ages 3-5).
2. Write a one-sentence research question for a descriptive study.
3. List the information needed to study the topic for a descriptive study and how it might be obtained (e.g., types of behavior problems for children, ages 3-5. Data from observations of children, or from questionnaires completed by children’s preschool teacher).
4. Write a one-sentence research question for an explanatory study. Use the “if-then” format.
5. List the information needed to study the topic for an explanatory study and how it might be obtained (e.g., types of behaviors for each child ages 3-5 in the study, obtained from parent or teacher reports; and job type for each child’s mother from telephone interviews).
Students should show they understand the differences between the two types of studies, and correctly state appropriate research questions for each type. Also, check that they provide the correct information and identify the “cause” and “effect” variables in their discussion of explanatory research.
Note: Students might need to be reminded in advance that two pieces of information are needed for an explanatory (causal) study: the “cause” and the “effect.” In the example, “job type of mother” is considered to be the cause of “child’s behavior problems,” which is the effect. The idea is to study whether the mother’s type of job has an effect on her children’s behavior.