In this course, students were challenged to develop practical qualitative and quantitative research and analysis skills. Research methodologies included coursework and lessons related to quantitative vs. qualitative research methods, ethical issues, sampling methodologies and considerations, levels of measurement, question wording, focus group design, sample size and error calculations, experimental design, design variations and threats to validity. The desired learning objectives included strengthening end-user analysis of completed research as well as developing basic research proposals.
The first major assignment was an individual analysis of the reliability and applicability of a submitted research report on statewide adolescent tobacco cessation project results. The end goal was to provide impartial feedback to project managers for their consideration in next steps of the project. The second major project continued the topic area focus, analyzing the research approach, effectiveness, validity and results of the prevention campaign. Again, the goal was to provide concrete recommendations designed to support stronger sampling methods, recruitment procedures, and approach to conducting externally valid focus groups.
The third project was to test the interest in and economic feasibility of a new, brick and mortar bookstore and local potential customers in a specific neighborhood. Components of the project proposal included creating, testing and modifying a pre-notification letter, cover letter and questionnaire. Sample margin of error calculations were conducted based on completed surveys. Potential research issues were addressed in the final report to the firm requesting the proposal.
The final project focused on the development of a multi-modal research approach project proposal in understanding and improving alumni relations. The components included developing a moderator’s guide and focus group protocols, a mail-based survey, and a quasi-experimental design element measuring donation appeal effectiveness in conjunction with new donation software.
Considerations for the project development included planning for a broad and diversified sampling pool, and strict attention to validity, reliability and accuracy of the research. Each component was pretested and revised.
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