Social work continues to be in need of research methods that link knowledge with practice and benefit practice directly. Although there has been recognition of this for some time, examples of rigorous and carefully controlled studies of social work practice are still quite rare. Researchers are often unprepared to face the challenges inherent in such work. The purpose of this course is to dispel myths regarding the impossibility of conducting rigorous research on practice, to arm you with an approach and set of strategies for overcoming obstacles to the conduct of sound research, and to provide guidance for designing, developing and testing innovations in practice settings.
The course opens with a conceptual framework that distinguishes intervention research from other modalities and distinguishes among the different types of intervention research. Readings and discussion will focus on a model of research that supports the systematic design and development of intervention and will provide guidelines for conducting research. Throughout the quarter, we will consider barriers to conducting practice research in the agency context, as well as strategies for overcoming them. Methodological and application issues will be covered using exemplars from social work, single subject and relevant group designs, quantitative and qualitative data. Researchers from the SSA community and beyond, who design and test practice innovations, will be invited in to discuss strategies and implementation issues based on their own work.