The Logic of Social Inquiry (Methods Course with Elective Readings)


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Using an innovative reading assignment structure balances the benefits of studying real research — not just a textbook — against the reality of too little time. Each student reads original research that uses at least one of the research methods studied. With these same studies used as in-class examples, students learn how the assumptions underlying research questions affect research methods chosen, how researchers using different methods create, present, and evaluate evidence, and how methods shape research findings. The final test requires students to use the study they have read to examine these themes. In one-semester courses, particularly where semesters are short, requiring that students both read a textbook and original research is often impractical. This is especially true in a research methods course where each textbook chapter is filled with new vocabulary and concepts that students must invest time to learn. Few students have the time, and perhaps fewer have the will, to read an additional 50 pages every week once their textbook reading and studying is done. Nonetheless, a methods course is more than a course in methodological vocabulary. In methods courses students should also learn that methods are intertwined with every aspect of the research process and that evaluating evidence requires awareness of these connections. This is best learned by examining how these connections play out in actual research projects. The syllabus provides an example reading for each method studied. These are termed elective readings: while no specific reading is required, students must do at least one reading on the...


Resource Type(s):
Assessment, Assignment, Syllabus 
Alexandra Marin, University of Toronto 
Date Published:
Subject Area:
Research Methods 
Class Level:
College 200 
Class Size:

Usage Notes:

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Discourage students from planning to do last elective reading assigned. An unexpected occurrence that prevents them from doing the reading would leave them with a 0 for the online quiz and no opportunity to do next week’s reading instead. * Some eager students sometimes choose to do more than one...

Learning Goals and Assessments:

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Goal 1:
1. Understand how research methods shape and are shaped by other aspects of research: assumptions, question, evidence, findings, and the challenges of studying various settings and populations.
Assessment 1:
1. Evaluated with an essay question on the second test in which students are asked questions that require them to evaluate the research methods used relate to other facets of the study. Example essay questions attached.

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Teaching Methods with Substantive Readings.pdf