SW 6400: Research & Evaluation Methods in Social Work
School of Social Work
Instructor: Yvonne A. Unrau

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This course is designed to increase student’s knowledge of research as a tool for social work practice. Students will acquire the basic skills and knowledge to utilize social research for practice related decision making as well as the capacity to carry out systematic methods of inquiry in their practice setting. The implementation of these research skills will enhance social service delivery and contribute to the knowledge of the profession.



Social Work 6400 provides students' with foundational knowledge and understanding of research methods used in social work practice. All undergraduate and graduate courses in the research sequence are structured to advance students’ cognitive learning in research as measured by Bloom’s classical taxonomy, which represents a continuum of basic to complex cognitive learning objectives. Social Work 6400 emphasizes learning at the knowledge, comprehension, and application levels of cognitive learning as presented below.

Cumulative Levels of Cognitive Learning* BSW MSW
3650 6400 6420

Knowledge: the ability to remember or bring to mind appropriate research knowledge and skill.


Comprehension: the ability to grasp the meaning of research knowledge and skill.

Application: the ability to apply learned research knowledge and skill to social work practice scenarios.

Analysis: the ability to break down research content (knowledge and skill) into its component parts and understand their function in terms of improving social work practice.


Synthesis: the ability to put together various aspects of research knowledge and skill to form a new whole in a manner that emphasizes creativity and reflects innovative ways of integrating research in social work practice.


Evaluation: the ability to judge the value of research for a given purpose based on sound criteria.


*Adapted from Bloom, B. S. (Ed)., (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals: Handbook I, cognitive domain. New York: McKay

*To read an article discussing the conceptualization of Bloom's Taxonomy as a framework for organizing student learning objectives in a social work research curriculum, click here for a PDF copy.


Specifically, the student learning objectives for SWRK 6400 are as follows:

  1. Apply science as a method for building social work practice.
  2. Comprehend types of research and evaluation approaches used to build the social work knowledge base.
  3. Comprehend how to locate research and theoretical literature that informs social work practice.
  4. Comprehend the elements and purposes of research questions and hypotheses.
  5. Comprehend how research designs (case-level and group-level) are used to answer specific questions about social work policy and practice.
  6. Apply sampling procedures in research and evaluation processes.
  7. Apply validity and reliability in measuring demographic, service, and outcome variables.
  8. Apply a variety of data collection methods and procedures as used in social work research.
  9. Comprehend how research is used to build an evidence-based practice framework.
  10. Comprehend research knowledge and skill to practice and program settings.
  11. Apply diversity, values, and ethics in social work research.
  12. Know how issues of policy, social justice, populations-at-risk, practice, and the social work profession interplay with research and evaluation processes.
  13. Know the basics of qualitative and quantitative data analyses.
  14. Know the elements of research and evaluation reports.
  15. Apply the role that research knowledge and skill has for critical thinking.
  16. Know about qualitative and quantitative software used for data analysis and presentation of research findings.
  17. Comprehend the basics of critiquing published research.
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