Research Sequence

Social work student doing research at a computer

Rory Crath (Chair)

The research sequence teaches a wide range of knowledge, values and skills. Courses develop skills in scientific and critical thinking, in conducting and interpreting both qualitative and quantitative research, in understanding multiple, diverse, perspectives on research methods, in addressing value and ethical issues related to doing and reporting research and in professional writing. 

For more about the Research sequence, see M.S.W. Research Requirements.

Elective Courses

The course numbers listed are effective beginning Summer 2019. Former course number equivalencies can be found here.

Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Research
Fulfills: Research Elective
Eligibility: Third Year Summer

Practice evaluation is a core component of social work practice as stated in the NASW Code of Ethics (section 5.02) and in the CSWE EPAS accreditation standards (Competency 9). It is an ethical imperative to evaluate the effectiveness of one’s practice, and to alter practices that are ineffective, to best serve clients. This course will examine two widely used approaches to clinical social work practice evaluation: case studies and single case designs. Problem definitions, research designs, data collection methods including standardized and self-anchored measures, and data analysis procedures will be explored. The merits and limitations of each practice evaluation method will be critically examined and ethical issues investigated. How evaluative procedures, measures and approaches can support diverse clients are examined. Exemplar studies will be used to consider how practice evaluation can simultaneously serve client, administrative and knowledge development purposes.

Practice evaluation is a core component of social work practice as stated in the NASW Code of Ethics (section 5.02) and in the CSWE EPAS accreditation standards (Competency 9).  It is an ethical imperative to evaluate the effectiveness of one’s practice, and to alter practices that are ineffective, to best serve clients.  This course will examine two widely used approaches to clinical social work practice evaluation: case studies and single case designs. Problem definitions, research designs, data collection methods including standardized and self-anchored measures, and data analysis procedures will be explored.  The merits and limitations of each practice evaluation method will be critically examined, and ethical issues investigated.  How evaluative procedures, measures and approaches can support diverse clients are examined.  Exemplar studies will be used to consider how practice evaluation can simultaneously serve client, administrative and knowledge development purposes.    
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Research
Fulfills: Research Elective
Eligibility: Third Year Summer

Program evaluation is a valuable skill for social work practice. The ability to understand, contribute to, and implement evaluations of social sector programs is a hallmark of social work leaders at the messo- and macro-levels. This course is designed to introduce students to the theory, methods, and practice of program evaluation. There will be an explicit focus on purpose, context, and intended use: What are the most pressing questions about a given program? What do we understand about the underlying mechanisms of an intervention? How are socially diverse voices heard and highlighted in an evaluation? How are the findings to be used? The course structure will facilitate the systematic exploration of these questions in a social work context, with the goal of improving quality of care at the program and organizational levels.      

Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Research
Fulfills: Research Elective
Eligibility: Second Year or Advanced Standing Field

The Research Practicum is a two credit (or a single course equivalent) specialization level research elective option intended to allow learning opportunities for students addressing CSWE EPAS and SSW objectives. Practicum learning centers on participation in an ongoing research project developed and led by a Smith College SSW resident faculty member. The faculty member identifies the research question and methods as well as identifying multiple student roles in the project. The practicum is a faculty designed and mentored project; it is not an independent project designed by the student. The faculty member is responsible for completing and documenting appropriate IRB approval where required for research involving human subjects or for use of secondary data involving human subjects. The research practicum requires at least 64 hours of work for credit, with the different tasks and their weighting for grading determined by the faculty advisor and specified in the written research practicum application.

Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Research
Fulfills: Research Elective
Eligibility: Third Year Summer

Current topics include:
Social Work, Anthropology and Advocacy
Qualitative Data Analysis
Trauma Informed Qualitative Research with Multiply Marginalized Populations
Ethnography
Discourse Analysis
The Science & Practice of Psychotherapy with Adult Patients
Data Analysis and Writing for Publication

Descriptions can be found in BannerWeb for the term they are offered.