Socw 6301 -8 | SOCW 6301 – Social Work Practice Research I | Walden University


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Data Collection and Measurement

This week, you are introduced to preparation and operationalization procedures for measuring data. In addition, you are introduced to a variety of ways to acquire quantitative data, including secondary data, systematic observation, interviews, questionnaires, and surveys. Regardless of which method for acquiring data you use, be aware of the potential for distortion and/or response bias, or forms of measurement error. For these reasons, it is imperative to understand issues of reliability and validity in measurement.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Analyze how to measure a phenomenon
  • Analyze measurement instruments
  • Evaluate measurement instruments used in a research study

Photo Credit: [Hero Images]/[Hero Images]/Getty Images

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 10, “Measurements Concepts and Issues” (pp. 223-245)
Chapter 11,” Methods for Acquiring Research Data” (pp. 246-275)
Chapter 12, “Data Collection Instruments” (pp. 277-294)

Windle,   G., Bennett, K. M., & Noyes, J. Windle, G., Bennett, K. M., &   Noyes, J. (2011). A methodological review of resilience scales. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 9, 2-18. Retrieved from Walden Library databases

Walker, K. E., & Arbreton, A. J. A. (2001). Working together to build Beacon Centers in San Francisco: Evaluation findings from 1998–2000. Philadelphia, PA: Public/Private Ventures. (see pp. 96-99 for measures). Retrieved from
See pp. 96–99 for measures

Document: Tips When Evaluating Instruments

Discussion 1: Methods of Measuring

The center point of research studies is the body of data collected to answer the research question. These data must be measured, which is the act of taking an abstract concept (e.g., depression, anger, etc.), sorting them out and quantifying them in some cohesive way in order to construct meaning—but how can you measure something that is not easily quantifiable?

Choosing an appropriate measurement tool requires consideration of a number of different issues including reliability, validity, appropriateness for use with a specific group or culture, availability, and potential cost. Sometimes, social workers will attempt to create their own set of questions to tap into or measure a concept. This may appear to be an easy thing to do; however, writing questions to measure a phenomenon is more challenging than it would seem. For example, how do we know it measures what we want it to measure?  In the first discussion this week, you will have the opportunity to create your own questions to measure a phenomenon of your interest. In the second discussion, you will compare the measure you created with an existing instrument that measures the same phenomenon.

To prepare: Choose one phenomenon or issue that a client may be dealing with (for example, depression, anxiety, or family conflict). Consider how you would evaluate the client’s progress in this area. Create questions with response options that would capture this phenomenon or client issue.

By Day 3
  • Identify the phenomenon you would measure and explain how you conceptualize this phenomenon.
  • Provide at least 3 questions you would use to measure this phenomenon and explain how these questions operationalize the phenomenon.
  • Define reliability in 2-3 sentences and give one example of how you would establish reliability for the questions you created.
  • Define validity in 2-3 sentences and give one example of how you would establish validity for the questions you created.
  • Create a measurement plan to assess the phenomenon.
    • Describe the methodology you would use to collect data using your measurement tool (your method for acquiring this research data).
    • Explain the advantages and disadvantages of your choices.
By Day 5

Respond to a colleague’s post by suggesting two alternative methods for measuring their phenomenon. Explain why your suggestions have value. Please use the resources to support your answer


Discussion 2: Evaluating Existing Measures

In discussion 1, you considered how you might create an instrument for measuring a phenomenon or client issue. For this week’s Discussion 2, choose and evaluate an existing instrument to measure the concept you identified in Discussion 1. Consider how you would compare your original measurement to the existing measurement.

To Prepare: Review the following at the Walden Library on how to find existing instruments:

By Day 5

Posta brief explanation of the existing measurement instrument that you identified. Then, compare your original measurement approach to the existing instrument. Next, explain how you would revise or replace your original measurement plan. Finally explain the advantages and/or disadvantages of using existing instruments for measurement. Please use the Learning Resources to support your answer.

By Day 7

Respond to a colleague’s post by suggesting one alternative advantage or disadvantage of their chosen existing instrument of measurement. Explain why your suggestions have value. Please use the resources to support your answer.

Colleague’s  Response for Discussion 1

 Respond to a colleague’s post by suggesting two alternative methods for measuring their phenomenon. Explain why your suggestions have value. Please use the resources to support your answer 

 Angelica Wiggins RE: Discussion 1 – Week 8COLLAPSE

Per Yegidis, Weinbach & Myers (2018), “In research, measurement is the process of sorting and, when possible, quantifying information in a consistent, systematic fashion. It entails collecting data in relation to certain variables and assigning the appropriate value categories or values to individual cases.” The phenomenon I would measure is depression. There are different kinds of depression which require different measures and treatment. Clinicians may use interviews to evaluate current problems or symptoms and to gather previous history whether it is family related or stressors that are encountered.

The first question I would ask is “do your symptoms interfere with your daily life and functioning?” second, “how long do your symptoms last?” third, “how do you handle these symptoms?” These questions can determine what approach needs to be taken. As aforementioned every treatment is different and it should be fitting for the person receiving treatment. When using operationalization, you want to make sure the variable is in alignment with the culture of the individual.

Reliability can be defined as a way to show consistency and ensure that the measurement produced the same results each time its tested. Test-Retest reliability would be used to ask the same questions to the client or participants.

According to Yegidis, Weinbach & Myers (2018), “When evaluating measurement, validity refers to the degree of fit between the construct we are trying to measure and the instrument or method we are using to measure it.” To establish validity, we can evaluate the client’s progress on a follow up and note any changes pertaining to the questions previously noted.

A plan that I would use is an assessment of questions or a questionnaire. Inputting a scale or a score range on the questionnaire could help make the assessment more precise.

An advantage would be that the tools selected would be aligned with the culture of the client so the outcome is expected to be positive. A disadvantage would be if client information during assessment was not accurate or true.

Discussion 2 response

 Angelica Wiggins RE: Discussion 2 – Week 8COLLAPSE

I chose to measure depression and focused on its effect on the people experiencing it. The questions aligned with this measurement were, “do your symptoms interfere with your daily life and functioning?” second, “how long do your symptoms last?” third, “how do you handle these symptoms?” I used a questionnaire to test this measurement. The measurement instrument that I located through research provided a survey to test depression as well. The questionnaire consisted of a 64-item measure utilizes a dichotomous response format of agree and disagree for all items (Fajkowska, Domaradzka & Wytykowska, 2018).

The use of surveys and questionnaires is very popular. I would not replace this method, I would revise it by making it more individualistic and not so generic with the same questions on it for each person. I would also ensure that it is done in person to assure that it is being completed. One advantage is that there will be a higher response rate. A problem that is encountered when it is not in person and a researcher uses the option of mail, is low rate of return of completed instruments (Yegidis, Weinbach & Myers, 2018).

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