Research Methods in Social Work

Applied Community Studies
Social Work
Course Code
SOWK 4160
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Method Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This course prepares students to evaluate and apply research to social work practice and policy development. Students will examine how qualitative, quantitative and mixed research methods contribute to knowledge and understanding the limits of knowledge. Students will develop a research question and apply knowledge of research design (ethical issues, recruitment, sampling, data collection, data analysis) to that question.
Course Content

Course content will be guided by research, empirical knowledge and best practice. The following values and principles, consistent with professional standards, inform course content.

  • Best practices in social work include the integration of research into practice.
  • Professional development requires the ongoing review of new knowledge on topics related to social work practice and the issues relevant to clients.
  • Practitioners must be able to critically evaluate the quality of research design and findings for quantitative, qualitative and mixed-methods research, and demonstrate discernment when integrating research into practice.
  • Practitioners’ understanding of the limits of knowledge is essential to best practice.
  • Research methods have ethical implications and methods employed by social workers in research are congruent with social work values.
  • Research topics and design are influenced by personal, temporal, and historical factors.
Methods Of Instruction

Group work
Experiential classroom activities
Audio-visual presentations.


Means of Assessment

Written papers
Research proposal
Classroom activities and participation

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Produce a literature review (from on-line databases and/or printed journals) relevant to social work;
  2. Review and critique research methods described in published research articles;
  3. Articulate a research question;
  4. Apply principles of ethical research design and methods to create an outline for a research proposal;
  5. Apply qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods research methodologies/ methods to create a research design;
  6. Identify the best statistical analysis for a research design;
  7. Demonstrate reflexivity with regard to a chosen research topic and design.
Textbook Materials

Text(s) such as the following, the list to be updated periodically:

Becker, S., Bryman, A. & Ferguson, H. (Eds). (2012). Understanding research for social policy and social work: Themes, methods and approaches, (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Dudley, J. (2011). Research methods for social work: Being producers and consumers of research (2nd ed.). Toronto: Pearson.
Engel, R. & Schutt, R. (2012). The practice of research in social work (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Field, A. (2009). Discovering statistics using SPSS (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Maxwell, J.A. (2013). Qualitative research design: An interactive approach (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Rubin, A. & Babbie, E. (2011). Research methods for social work (7th ed.). Brooks/Cole.


Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for SOWK 4160
Simon Fraser University (SFU) No credit

Course Offerings

Summer 2022

There aren't any scheduled upcoming offerings for this course.