The Institute for Clinical Social Work

Syllabi Archive

CCP 570: Research Process and Techniques

Master's Program: spring 2012-13

Theresa Vidalon, MSW

  • Credits: 3
  • Cell: 773-319-9587
  • Main Email:
  • ICSW Email:
  • ICSW Office Hours: By appointment
  • Class Meets Wednesday, 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Course Description

This course will provide a comprehensive overview of principles, concepts, methods, tools, and techniques used in counseling and psychotherapy research. Question formulation, hypothesis development, data collection methods, data analysis, and the interpretation of findings are addressed. The course will be augmented with topics such as: online literature searches, critical thinking, the research process, and ethical treatment of human subjects.

Knowledge, Value, and Skill Learning Objectives of the Course


1) Gain knowledge of basic research methodology
2) Understand research problem formulation and conceptualization
3) Learn about different data collection methodsValue
4) Discuss ethical concerns related to research


5) Recognize the value and importance of human research subject protections
6) Explore implications of research design


7) Utilize computer database searches to review the literature
8) Critique existing research
9) Interpret study findings

Respect for Diversity, Confidentiality, and Fellow Students

Discussing patients, clinical material, and patients’ impact on clinicians can be intense; students are expected to be sensitive to their colleagues’ during class discussions, and to protect confidentiality of clinicians and their patients. In addition, students are expected to be respectful of the opinions of others while at the same time striving to support the values of clinical counseling.

Students with Special Needs: Students with special needs or difficulties in learning and completing courses assignments are strongly encouraged to notify instructors as soon as possible so that appropriate resources and accommodations can be provided.
Student Evaluation and Grades: Classroom instructors grade students on their course work and submit written evaluative reports on the caliber of each student’s work. Practicum consultants/supervisors grade students and submit reports each semester evaluating their work. Students’ overall performance will be monitored each semester by the Student Progression Committee.


The purpose of grading is to provide a learning tool for students, i.e., to provide feedback on progress, strengths and weaknesses, and issues that need to be addressed.

Grading Standards

Grades are assigned according to the following standards:
A - Superior Work - 4.0 value
B - Satisfactory Work - 3.0 value
C - Marginal Work - 2.0 value
F - Failure* - 0.0 value *Applies only to Field Placement/Practicum and
P - Pass* - 0.0 value Thesis Seminar
AU - Audit - 0.0 value Auditing a course with approval of instructor
INC - Incomplete - 0.0 value**

Grading Decision

90-100 pts Superior Work evidenced by assignments and class participation that reflect outstanding understanding of class materials, consistent demonstration of critical and analytical skills, and creativity.

80-89 pts Satisfactory Work evidenced by assignments and class participation that reflect essential understanding of class materials and frequent demonstration of critical and analytical skills.

70-79 pts Marginal Work evidenced by assignments and class participation that reflect some understanding of class materials and occasional demonstration of critical and analytical skills.

< 60 pts Failure evidenced by assignments and class participation that reflect insufficient understanding of class materials and limited critical and analytical skills.

Grades will be calculated as (Total Number of Assignment Points)/100

  • **A grade of INC (incomplete) requires the instructor’s written approval. Incomplete grades should be reserved for extenuating circumstances. If an incomplete grade is given, the student must finish any work required to complete the course requirements by the end of the semester. If the course is not completed by this deadline, the student automatically receives an F (Fail) grade for the course.
  • Papers: Papers should include the following elements: 12-point Times New Roman or Arial font, with 1” margin, numbered pages, a cover page, and a reference page if sources are cited. Points will be deducted from assignments that are not formatted according to the current APA citation style and formatting guidelines (including the cover and reference pages). Papers should also make ample use of headings and subheadings.
  • All papers submitted for class requirements are to conform to the style guide in the “Institute for Clinical Social Work Style Manual,” which is located on the ICSW website in the academic resources section:
  • Insofar as is practicable, ICSW style follows the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, commonly referred to as the “APA style manual.” A handout on APA citation style 6th edition is available in the Robert Morris University Library website, which is located in the APA Guide section
  • **Additionally, the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) has many examples and paper format guidelines (including information on the mechanics of writing, correct grammar, and proper punctuation)
  • It is recommended to submit assignments electronically over email or the BlackBaud system; however, assignments can be submitted in paper form at the beginning of the class held on the due date.
  • Late assignments will be dropped one letter grade every subsequent week after the due date.

Academic Dishonesty

Any student who engages in academic dishonesty, which includes giving or receiving unauthorized aid to any assignment or examination, plagiarism or tampering with grades or irregularities shall be subject to disciplinary action. Such action may include a failing grade in the course, suspension, or dismissal from the program.

Students are expected to review the OWL website regarding quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing:

Plagiarism Policy

When plagiarism is suspected, students may be asked to submit their papers electronically to a third party plagiarism detection service. If a student is asked to submit the paper and refuses to do so, the student must provide proof that all work is correctly sited and/or original.

Readings: Students are required to read all assigned material and should be prepared to discuss the reading material assigned for each class.

Class Attendance and Participation: Active discussion of the ideas contained in the readings and lectures as well as class attendance and participation in class exercises are central to the success of this course. Excessive absences (more than a total of TWO classes) may result in a lowered grade. Students must notify the instructor in advance by email if you will not be attending class.

Required Textbooks

Monette, D.R, Sullivan, T.J., & DeJong, C.R. (2010). Applied Social Research: A Tool for the Human Services (8th edition). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.

*Earlier or later editions of this textbook may be used with the understanding that the student is responsible for locating assigned readings.

Course Assignments

Grades will be based on four criteria: a mid-term exam (30%), a final exam (30%), 12 weekly reaction papers (30%), and class participation (10%).

Reaction Papers

Reaction papers on assigned readings are due before the start of class (e.g., the Class 2 Reaction Paper is due on the day of Class 2). Students may submit only one reaction paper per week, they cannot submit reaction papers ahead of time or retroactively, and are expected to keep track of how many reaction papers they have previously submitted. Students can select the dates they submit their reaction paper as long as the number of weekly reaction papers equals ten by the date of the last class. If students submit less than twelve reaction papers, they will receive a grade of 0 points for each missing reaction paper. Reaction papers should be an APA citation style formatted, single typed page, double spaced, with a cover page (and potentially a reference page) that summarizes a research article assigned for that week and contains at least three questions and at least one critical comment in bold type which the student is prepared to discuss in class.

Weekly Course Schedule

Class 1

Introduction to Research

  • Review of Syllabus & Assignments
  • Practice: The distinguishing characteristic of social research
  • Critical thinking
  • Evidence-informed vs authority-based practice
  • Understanding parts of a research article

Class 2

Discussion of Published Research

Select three of the papers located at the end of this syllabus. Be prepared to share and discuss information about the research questions addressed, problem formulation, any ethical concerns, measurement issues, study design, sampling, data analysis, application to practice/policy of your selected paper, and any concerns you may have about the study. Ask questions in class if there are any aspects of the paper you do not understand. Please note that your understanding about this paper will deepen as we learn more throughout the course and this preliminary discussion is considered to be an introduction to the research process rather than a graded assignment.

Class 3

Scientific Inquiry and Social Research

  • Philosophy and Theory in Science and Research
  • On-Line Literature Search Procedures
  • Concepts and hypotheses
  • Theories
  • Causality


  1. Monette DR, Sullivan TJ, DeJong CR (2010), Ch. 1: Research in the human services [pp. 1-17]; Ch.2: The logic of social research [pp. 19-48]
  2. Mohr, D.C., Spring, B., Freedland, K.E., Beckner, V., Arean, P., Hollon, S.D., …Kaplan, R. (2009). The selection and design of control conditions for randomized controlled trials of psychological interventions. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 78, 275-284.

Class 4

The Ethics, Politics and Cultural Context of Social Research

  • Values, ethics, and the protection of human subjects.
  • The minority experience and the need for ethical standards.
  • Codes of ethics.
  • Local protection for human subjects.
  • Research and social justice.


  • Monette DR, Sullivan TJ, DeJong CR (2010), Ch. 3: Ethical issues in social research [pp. 49-75]
  • Boothroyd, R.A., & Best, K. (2003). Emotional reactions to research participation and the relationship to understanding of informed consent disclosure. Social Work Research, 27, 242-251.
  • Nagayama Hall, G.C. (2001). Psychotherapy research with ethnic minorities: Empirical, ethical, and conceptual issues. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 69(3), 502-510.

Class 5

Problem Formulation

  • Asking a researchable question
  • Selecting, shaping and refining research problems
  • Feasibility of research
  • Community involvement in research problems


  1. Monette DR, Sullivan TJ, DeJong CR (2010), Ch.4: Issues in problem formulation [pp. 76-102]
  2. Topor, A., Borg, M., Di Girolamo, S., Davidson, L. (2011). Not just an individual journey: Social aspects of recovery. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 57(1), 90-99.
  3. Sachse, S., Keville, S., Feigenbaum, J. (2011). A feasibility study of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for individuals with borderline personality disorder. Psychology and psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 84, 184-200.

Class 6

Measurement I

  • Levels of measurement
  • Discrete and continuous variables
  • Measurement error
  • Validity and reliability of measures


  1. Monette DR, Sullivan TJ, DeJong CR (2010), Ch. 5: The process of measurement [pp. 104-133]
  2. Glebova, T., Foster, S.L., Cunningham, P.B., Brennan, P.A., Whitmore, E. (2012). Examining therapist comfort in delivering family therapy in home and community settings: Development and evaluation of the Therapist Comfort Scale. Psychotherapy, 49(1), 52-61.
  3. King, M., Shaw, J., Watson, R., Stevens, S., Passetti, F., Weich, S., Serfay, M. (2007). The stigma scale: Development of a standardised measure of the stigma of mental illness. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 190, 248-254.

Class 7

Measurement II

  • Constructing scales
  • Scale formats
  • Scale bias


  1. Monette DR, Sullivan TJ, DeJong CR (2010), Ch 13: Scaling [pp. 349-374]
  2. Robitschek, C., Ashton, M.W., Spering, C.C., Geiger, N., Byers, D., Schotts, G.C., & Thoen, M.A. (2012). Development and psychometric evaluation of the Personal Growth Initiative Scale-II. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 59(2), 274-287.
  3. Clark, L.A., Watson, D. (1995). Constructing validity: Basic issues in objective scale development. (1995). Psychological Assessment, 7(3), 309-319.

Class 8

Take Home Midterm Examination & Class Review

  • Midterm Evaluation

Class 9

Single-system Evaluation Designs

  • The clinical research approach
  • Individual rating scales, paper and pencil tests, and existing data
  • Designs
  • Assessment of effects


  1. Monette DR, Sullivan TJ, DeJong CR (2010), Ch. 11: Single subject designs [pp. 291-318]
  2. Faul, A., Stepensky, K.Simonsen, B. (2011). The effects of prompting appropriate behavior on the off-task behavior of two middle school students. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 14(1), 47-55

Class 10

Experimental Designs

  • Correlation designs
  • Experimental designs
  • Quasi-experimental designs
  • Internal and external validity


  1. Monette DR, Sullivan TJ, DeJong CR (2010), Ch. 10: Experimental research [pp. 259-290].
  2. Anglin, D.M., Link, B.G., Phelan, J.C. (2006). Racial differences in stigmatizing attitudes toward people with mental illness. Psychiatric Services, 57(6), 857-862.
  3. Harris, M.B. & Franklin, C.G. (2003). Effects of a cognitive-behavioral, school-based group intervention with Mexican American pregnant and parenting adolescents. Social Work Research, 27, 71-83.

Class 11


  • Populations and their samples
  • Probability and non probability samples


  1. Monette DR, Sullivan TJ, DeJong CR (2010), Ch. 6: Sampling [pp. 134-162]
  2. Yodanis, C.L. (2004). Gender inequality, violence against women, and fear: A cross-national test of the feminist theory of violence against Women. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 19, 655-675.

Class 12

Survey Research

  • Designing questions
  • Questionnaires
  • Interviews
  • Online surveys


  1. Monette DR, Sullivan TJ, DeJong CR (2010), Ch. 7: Survey research [pp. 163-198]
  2. Bledsoe, S.E., Weissman, M.M., Mullen, E.J., Ponniah, K., Gameroff, M.J., Verdeli, H., Mufson, L., Fitterling, H., & Wickramaratne, P. (2007). Empirically supported psychotherapy in social work training programs: Does the definition of evidence matter? Research on Social Work Practice, 17, 449-455.
  3. Kryson, M., Schuman, H., Scott, L.J., Beatty, P., Response rates and response content in mail vs. face-to-face surveys.

Class 13

Program Evaluation

  • Process (formative) evaluation
  • Outcome (summative) evaluation


  1. Monette DR, Sullivan TJ, DeJong CR (2010), Ch. 12: Evaluation research [pp. 319-348]
  2. Turcotte, D., Lamonde, G., & Beaudoin, A. (2009). Evaluation of an in-service training program for child welfare practitioners. Research on Social Work Practice, 19, 31-41.
  3. Bennett, L., Riger, S., Schewe, P., Howard, A., Wasco, S. (2004). Effectiveness of hotline, advocacy, counseling, and shelter services for victims of domestic violence: A statewide evaluation. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 19, 815-829.

Class 14

Take Home Final Exam & Qualitative Research Methods

  • Field research
  • Case studies
  • Focus groups
  • Qualitative data analysis


  1. Monette DR, Sullivan TJ, DeJong CR (2010), Ch. 9: Evaluation research [pp. 223-258]; Ch. 16: Analysis of qualitative data [pp. 431=457]
  2. Morse, J.M. (1996). Editorial: Is qualitative research complete? Qualitative Health Research, 6(1), 3-5
  3. Davidson, L., Stayner, D.A., Lambert, S., Smith, P., & Sledge, W.H. (1997). Phenomenological and participatory research on schizophrenia: Recovering the person in theory and practice. Journal of Social Issues, 53, 767-784.

Class 15

Quantitative Data Analysis

  • Data entry
  • Graphic displays
  • Description and inference


Monette DR, Sullivan TJ, DeJong CR (2010), Ch. 14: Data preparation and presentation [pp. 375-402]; Ch 15: Descriptive and inferential statistics [pp. 403-430]

Williams, J. H., Stiffman, A. R., & O'Neal, J. L. (1998). Violence among urban African American youths: An analysis of environmental and behavioral risk factors. Social Work Research, 22, 3-13.

Selected Articles for Class 2

  1. Gerber, A.J., Kocsis, J.H., Milrod, B.L., Roose, S.P., Barber, J.P., Thase, M.E.,…Leon, A.C. (2010, September 15). A quality-based review of randomized controlled trials of psychodynamic psychotherapy. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1-10. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2010.08060843
  2. Leichsenring, F., & Raburg, S. (2008). Effectiveness of long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy: A meta-analysis. Journal of the American Medical Association, 300(13), 1551-1565. doi:10.1001/jama.300.13.1551
  3. Midgley, N., & Kennedy, E. (2011). Psychodynamic psychotherapy for children and adolescents: A critical review of the evidence base. Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 1-29. doi: 10.1080/0075417x.2011.614738
  4. Urwin, C. (2007). Revisiting ‘What works for whom?’: A qualitative framework for evaluating clinical effectiveness in child psychotherapy. Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 33(2), 134-160.
  5. Zivin Bambauer, K., Aupont, O., Stone, P.H., Locke, S.E., Mullan, M.G., Colagiovanni, J., & McLaughlin, T.J. (2005). The effect of a telephone counseling intervention on self-rated health of cardiac patients. Psychosomatic Medicine, 67, 539-545.
  6. Knekt, P., Lindfors, O., Laaksonen, M.A., Raitasalo, R., Haaramo, P., Järvikoski, A., & The Helsinki Psychotherapy Study Group. (2008). Effectiveness of short-term and long-term psychotherapy on work ability and functional capacity-A randomized clinical trial on depressive and anxiety disorders. Journal of Affective Disorders, 107, 95-106. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2007.08.005
  7. Lundahl, B., & Burke, B.L. (2009). The effectiveness and applicability of motivational interviewing: A practice-friendly review of four meta-analyses. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 65(11), 1232-1245. doi:10.1002/jclp.20638
  8. Nappi, C.M., Drummond, S.P.A., Thorp, S.R., & McQuaid, J.R. (2010). Effectiveness of imagery rehearsal therapy for the treatment of combat-related nightmares in veterans. Behavior Therapy, 41, 237-244.
  9. Franklin, C., Biever, J., Moore, K., Clemons, D., & Scamardo, M. (2001). The effectiveness of solution-focused therapy with children in a school setting. Research on Social Work Practice, 11, 411-434. doi:10.1177/104973150101100401.
  10. Sandberg, J.G., Johnson, L.N., Robila, M., Miller, R.B. (2002). Clinician identified barriers to clinical research. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 28(1), 61-67.
  11. Gordon, M.S., Kinlock, T.W., Schwartz, R.P., O’Grady, K.E. (2008). A randomized clinical trial of methadone maintenance for prisoners: Findings at 6 months post-release. Addiction, 103, 1333-1342. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2008.002238.x

Please note that links to some course readings have been purged from archived syllabi. Electronic texts on the ICSW website are protected by copyright law. These files are made available strictly for individual, educational use and may not be copied or distributed in any way. Distribution of copyrighted material to non-enrolled individuals or ICSW students will be considered an act of Academic Dishonesty and be dealt with accordingly as indicated in the Student Manual. Federal penalties for copyright infringement may be found at