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Sampling
It is impossible to study the entirety of any particular population. However, researchers can collect data for their studies from a sample of a particular population. There are two methods of sampling available for researchers: probability sampling and nonprobability sampling. This week, you examine the terminology used for the sampling aspect of research as well as best practices for its implementation. Then you critique a research study’s use of sampling in order to further understand the relationship between sampling, causality, and generalizability.
Learning Objectives
Students will:
Create two sampling structures
Evaluate strengths and limitations of two sampling methods
Analyze samples in a case study
Analyze generalizability in a case study
Evaluate method and methodology used in a research study
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Learning Resources
Note: To access this week’s required library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus.
Required Readings
Yegidis, B. L., Weinbach, R. W., & Myers, L. L.  (2018). Research methods for social workers (8th ed.). New York, NY:  Pearson.
Chapter 9, “Sampling Issues and Options” (pp. 202-222)
Optional Resources
Plummer, S.-B., Makris, S., & Brocksen S. M. (Eds.). (2014).Social work case studies: Foundation year. Baltimore, MD: Laureate International Universities drafting. [Vital Source e-reader].
Social Work Research: Program Evaluation
Discussion 1: Sampling Structures
Probability and nonprobability are the two general categories of sampling. Probability sampling uses random selection, whereas nonprobability sampling does not. For example, if you wanted to study the effects of divorce on the psychological development of adolescents, you could gather a population of a certain number of adolescents whose parents were divorced. Then, out of that population, you could randomly select 25 of those people. If you wanted to use nonprobability sampling, you would choose specific people who had met predetermined criteria. For this Discussion, consider how samples would be chosen for both probability and nonprobability sampling structures.
By Day 3
Post your explanation of the following:
Using your research problem and the refined question you developed in Week 4, develop two sampling structures: probability and nonprobability.
Explain who would be included in each sample and how each sample would be selected.
Be specific about the sampling structures you chose, evaluating both strengths and limitations of each.
Please use the resources to support your answer.
By Day 5
Respond to a colleague’s post by suggesting an alternative sampling structure for their research question as well as an alternate way of selecting the sample. Please use the resources to support your answer.
Discussion 2: Generalizing Study Results
Generalizability is the extent to which research findings from your sample population can be applicable to a larger population. There are many best practices for ensuring generalizability. Two of those are making sure the sample is as much like the population as possible and making sure that the sample size is large enough to mitigate the chance of differences within the population. For this Discussion, read the case study titled “Social Work Research: Program Evaluation” and consider how the particular study results can be generalizable.
By Day 5
Post your explanation of who the sample is. Also explain steps researchers took to ensure generalizability. Be sure to discuss how the study results could possibly be generalizable. Please use the resources to support your answer.
By Day 7
Respond to a colleague’s post by suggesting two alternative ways that the study results could be generalizable. Please use the resources to support your answer.
Assignment: Research Design and Sampling
Using the empirical research article that your instructor approved in the Week 5 assignment, ask yourself: “Is this a quantitative research article or a qualitative research article?” Remember, in quantitative research, the emphasis is on measuring social phenomenon because it is assumed that everything can be observed, measured, and quantified. On the other hand, in qualitative research, it is assumed that social phenomenon cannot be easily reduced and broken down into concepts that can be measured and quantified. Instead, there may be different meanings to phenomenon and experiences. Often in qualitative research, researchers use interviews, focus groups and observations to gather data and then report their findings using words and quotations.
Consider how these different methods affect the sampling design and recruitment strategy, and ask yourself how the recruitment of research participants will affect the findings.
For this Assignment, submit a 3-4 page paper. Complete the following:
Read your selected empirical research article, and identify whether the study is a quantitative or qualitative study. Justify the reasons why you believe it is a quantitative or qualitative study. (Your instructor will indicate to you if you are correct in identifying the research design. This will point you to whether you will use the “Quantitative Article and Review Critique” or the “Qualitative Article and Review Critique” guidelines for the final assignment in week 10.)
Using the empirical research article, focus on the sampling method in the study and begin to evaluate the sampling method by answering the following:
Describe the sampling methods in your own words (paraphrase, do not quote from the article).
Describe the generalizability or the transferability of the research finding based on the sampling method.
Discuss the limitations the article identified with the sample and how those limitations affect the reliability or credibility.
Explain one recommendation you would make to improve the sampling plan of the study that would address these limitations in future research.

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