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1. List two influences not mentioned in this chapter that might reduce the risk of
child death and generally improve child health. For each influence, is physical control or
statistical control (Chapter 1) more appropriate to control (hold constant) each
influence? Briefly explain.
Answers to will vary, but should be reasonable alternative explanations for child
mortality and the type of control a researcher could expect to hold each
2. Is evaluation research a method of data collection? Why or why not?
No. Evaluation research is distinguished from other research by the goals
of the research. Evaluation research is conducted to determine how well a
specific policy or program works. Evaluation research can be conducted by
experiments, surveys, personal interviews and other methods of data collection.
3. If information is obtained at an all-boys school, does gender vary among
students? Briefly explain in your own words the difference between a variable and a
No, there would be information only from one gender – boys. Gender is
constant. A variable is a set of categories that are mutually exclusive and
exhaustive. A constant is a measure with only one category.
4. Should a researcher inform potential participants that they will be research
subjects? Provide one reason why and one circumstance under which one might not
Being known as a researcher during data collection can influence
responses. The subject might choose behaviors and comments to please (or
displease) the researcher. Yet, not disclosing one’s identity as a researcher
poses an ethical issue. It violates the norm of informed consent. Also, being a
member of the group under study, while at the same time not disclosing one’s
identity, likely influences the objectivity of the observer and the activities of the
subjects. Punch (1986) suggests viewing research subjects as “collaborators” in
the research, and behaving toward them as we behave toward friends and
acquaintances. However, if for example, a participant observer becomes
embroiled in a sexual relationship with a subject, participant observation has a lot
of potential for skewing the conclusions of the study.
18. What is an IRB? Summarize their activities.
IRB stands for Institutional Research Board but often goes by other names
such as Human Subjects Review Board. IRBs examine research proposals for
potentially harmful impacts on the subjects. They consider potential social,
psychological, emotional, and physical effects on research participants. After
deliberation the IRB may advise researchers about needed changes in
procedures. Often an IRB must approve a research plan before the study may
Exercise 1. Evaluation of Research: Practical Dilemmas
Directions: Read the excerpt on “evaluation of a pregnancy prevention program” in
this chapter and answer the following questions.
1. What is the research question? What are the comparison groups?
Did students who were offered pregnancy-prevention services differ in
their knowledge, attitudes and behaviors compared to students not
offered these services?
2. What are the main findings?
Boys offered the pregnancy-prevention services used the clinic as
freely as did girls of the same age. Also, increased and prompt
attendance at the clinic and increased used of effective contraception
methods reduced pregnancy levels. Furthermore, the younger sexually
active teens developed knowledge and behavior patterns usually
associated with older teens.
3. Is it harmful to collect student information about sexuality and contraception
attitudes and behaviors? Briefly discuss at least one advantage and one
disadvantage relevant to the pregnancy prevention program.
Advantages are that the data suggest school-based clinics lower
pregnancy rates in this school and postponed coitus, which might be of
interest to other schools. Disadvantages are additional costs that likely
would involve the school (time, personnel) and potential concerns from
parents and the community about the collection of sensitive and
sometimes controversial information from students.
4. Explain the benefits of informed consent for this study. Are there disadvantages?
Why or why not?
Students should mention benefits provided by the Belmont Report.
They also should briefly discuss how ethical issues must be weighed
carefully in social research, and that permission is required from an IRB
prior to the study.
Exercise 2. Skills Building: Writing Research Questions for Quantitative
Directions: Choose a social science topic. You may use one of the topics discussed in
this chapter (exclude topics from an excerpt), or select one of your own.
1. Write your topic here (e.g. children’s behavior problems, ages 3-5).
2. Write a one-sentence research question for a descriptive study.
3. List the information needed to study the topic for a descriptive study and how it might
be obtained (e.g., types of behavior problems for children, ages 3-5. Data from
observations of children, or from questionnaires completed by children’s preschool
4. Write a one-sentence research question for an explanatory study. Use the “if-then”
5. List the information needed to study the topic for an explanatory study and how it
might be obtained (e.g., types of behaviors for each child ages 3-5 in the study,
obtained from parent or teacher reports; and job type for each child’s mother from
Students should show they understand the differences between the two
types of studies, and correctly state appropriate research questions for
each type. Also, check that they provide the correct information and
identify the “cause” and “effect” variables in their discussion of
Note: Students might need to be reminded in advance that two pieces of
information are needed for an explanatory (causal) study: the “cause” and the
“effect.” In the example, “job type of mother” is considered to be the cause of
“child’s behavior problems,” which is the effect. The idea is to study whether the
mother’s type of job has an effect on her children’s behavior.