Teaching: Empirical Research Methods ๐Ÿ”ฌ

This course is an introduction to empirical research methods. It examines the relationship between theory and research, hypothesis testing, experimental designs, modes of observation, sampling, validity, and data analysis and interpretation. Prerequisite: introductory statistics course. The course is a remix of teaching material I had from the University of Washington and Northeastern University.

Course Overview ๐Ÿ“–

Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:
  • Design and execute a research experiment.
  • Construct a research problem and specific research question based on relevant literature.
  • Identify relevant variables.
  • Create hypotheses
  • Design a research study
  • Construct and administer experimental instruments
  • Select and apply appropriate data analysis methods
  • Write a research report
  • Evaluate the validity of experimental research studies
  • Identify and understand ethical concerns with experimental research online

Textbook: ๐Ÿ“š

Kenneth Bordens, Bruce Barrington Abbott. Research Design and Methods. McGraw-Hill Education.

Grading ๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ’ฏ

  • Attendance & Active Participation: 5%
  • Reading Reflections (approximately once a week): 15%
  • Homework: 25%
  • Mini Class Projects: 30%
  • Final Team Research Project: 25%
The course content is divided into 3 main knowledge areas:
    • The Scientific Method.
    • Ethics of Human subjects research.
    • Ethnographic methods (interviewing, observation, qualitative analysis).
    • Research models (descriptive, correlational, experimental)
    • Measurement (nominal/ordinal/interval/ratio, reliability, validity)
    • Survey measures (design and validation)
    • The logic of hypothesis testing
    • Correlational study designs
    • Between-subjects vs. Within-subjects experimental designs, carryover effects
    • Randomization methods
    • Human subjects sampling and recruitment methods
    • The normal distribution and parametric statistics
    • Power & Effect Size
    • Data preparation and reporting, baseline analyses, subgroup analyses
    • Descriptive statistics (mean, median, mode, inter-quartile range, standard deviation
    • Chi-square hypothesis tests
    • t-tests: single sample, for independent means, for dependent means
    • ANOVA: one-way, post-hoc tests, 2x2
    Data Science Bootcamp
    • Data manipulation and plotting
    • Descriptive statistics.
    • Chi-square tests.
    • Correlation (Pearson, Spearman).
    • t-tests
    • ANOVAs, post-hoc tests
Want to teach this class at your own university? Please reuse my slides and assignments. I'd love to hear from you about how my course material is working out and how I could improve them. Please email me.

Week 1: Introduction to Empirical Methods.

In the first week we will present what is the course about, what you will learn in the course, an overview of how we will operate (communications channels, methods to submit homework, grading). We will also start to learn about what are empirical methods, variables, hypothesis, research questions.
Slides: Week 1: Introduction to Empirical Methods.(Slides 1-60).

Reading Reflection Assignment 1:
Read the chapter "Before you Begin" from the Book "How to Design and Report Experiments." It provides a nice introduction to experimental methods, by Andy Field (who has resources on statistics, etc. and is a great writer. If you like his style, check out his website: https://www.discoveringstatistics.com/. You need to Submit a short summary of the chapter where you cover:
  • Overall what does the chapter cover? (20 points)
  • What are the main takeaways of the chapter? (20 points)
  • What things did you like about how the author presented information in the chapter? (20 points)
  • What did you not like? (20 points)
  • How might the chapter relate to your own work and things that you are interested in? (20 points)

Week 2: Variables, Hypothesis, Research Questions

We will practice the concepts of variables, hypothesis, and research questions. We will do excersises on these concepts.
Slides: Weeks 2: Variables, Hypothesis, Research Questions. (Slides: 60-103)

Homework #1: Identifying Variables and Constructing Research Questions/Statements:
Complete the following Worksheet (make a copy and submit the worksheet as a PDF).

Week 3: Writing/Reviewing a Research Paper and Advancing Final Project

We will learn how to create research papers and how to use research papers to help you plan the research you will produce. This will you will also start to plan what type of research you are interested in exploring collectively with your team for your final project.
Slides: Week 3: Writing/Reviewing a Research Paper.

Reading Reflection #2.
Read from your textbook the chapter "Reporting Your Research Results" (Chapter 15: check version you have to ensure it is correct). Submit a short summary of the chapter where you cover:
  • Overall what does the chapter cover? (20 points)
  • Provide a list of advice of how to write a scientific paper that you plan to use for your final project (20 points)
  • What things did you like about how the author presented information in the chapter? (20 points)
  • What did you not like? (20 points)
  • How might the chapter help you in preparing your final project? (20 points)

HW #2: Preliminary Research Questions.
Submit your research questions as a word document on canvas.

HW #3: Research Questions and Variable ID.
Choose a research article relevant to your interests. Make sure itโ€™s an article that includes an experiment. Use that research paper to complete the โ€œResearch Questions and Variable IDโ€ worksheet.

Team Homework #1: Research Area Definition.
  • Establish teams
  • Submit on canvas a presentation with the names of people on your team and broad notes on research area you are interested in exploring (this is just a placeholder homework to showcase that you are advancing your final research project.)
  • Each team only needs to submit one Presentation. Please include the names of all team members on the submission. Be prepared to present next class in 3 min.
  • If you are not yet part of a team, please submit your own individual presentation so that we can give you a grade for this assignment. There will be time in class for you to discuss your research idea with those who are not yet part of a team and, hopefully, coalesce around one idea.

Week 4: Writing a Research Paper

This week we will provide practical experience for you to learn how to define research and start to create a research paper around the research you define..
Slides:Week 4: Writing a Research Paper.

Team HomeWork #2: DRAFT Introduction.
Submit a PDF with:
  • Your research questions
  • Your hypothesis
  • An overview of what experiment you expect to conduct.
  • Add to the word document the names of all your team members.

Team Homework #3: Draft Background Statement
Draft your background statement using existing literature. Remember, this section sets the landscape for your study. What is known already and how does this support your idea to test your hypothesis? Submit on canvas: A word document with your related work section. Add the names of all your team members. Submit one word document per team.

Consider using for your work the suggestions from Dr. Teevan from Microsoft: