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SWK 646 – Spring 2022                                                             Prof. Adames-Torres

Midterm Exam (20 points)



This exam is open book and open notes.  You may not consult with anyone in completing this exam, other than contacting Prof. Adames-Torres if you have a question about one of the questions on the exam. The Lehman College Statement on Academic Integrity applies to this test. 

If you need to contact Prof. Adames-Torres please email her at or call her at 646-461-0956 (available between 9am-6pm)

You must email your exam as a Word attachment by 11:59pm on 3/22/22. Late submissions will receive a 15-point deduction.



Answer each of the following questions in narrative form (full sentences).  Please type your responses and use 12 point Times New Roman font. 


1.  From the work you have done on your final assignment and what we have discussed in this class, discuss what you have learned thus far about the problem formulation process in research.  What has been challenging/interesting/surprising to you about this process?


Based on the class readings and assignments, I have learned various things about the problem formulation process in research. Formulating the research problem is like making the foundation of a building to be constructed, which means that the researcher has to know the problem. Based on this, the problem identification and formulation is very crucial for the researcher before conducting any research. Another thing that I learned is that the problem is stated in the opening passages of the research, and helps in providing the reader with a rationale for why the study is important and why it is necessary to read. The problem formulation process is not an easy task, and therefore, it is not something that a person can just choose and write about. There are about six steps that are involved in problem formulation and which include; identifying a general area of interest, learning more about the problem, reviewing the context of the information, determining relationships between variables, selecting and including important variable and lastly receiving feedback and revising accordingly. One of the most challenging issues in problem formulation is coming up with a right topic and finding the right variables that will help make the research topic valid. An interesting thing is that a researcher have to read a lot of literature content to find a gap in literature and which they can use in coming up with the problem along with the variables to be investigated.


2.  Provide a review of the scientific method. What is a strength and a limitation of using this approach?

The scientific method is an empirical method of acquiring knowledge and involves careful observation, applying rigorous skepticism about what is observed, considering that cognitive assumptions can distort how a person interprets the observation. In scientific method, induction is used when formulating the hypotheses, and this is based on the observations. Afterwards, experimental and measurement-based testing of deductions drawn from the hypotheses are conducted, and the results are used to refine the hypotheses based on the experimental findings. The scientific method is associated with various strengths in that it is based on empirical evidence, it is a proof and verification, it is reliable in finding the truth, cautious with the theories that are backed up, found by reasoning and verification and finally, scientists are impartial. The limitations of the scientific method is that it is subject to human error. Mistakes can occur in recording observations or inaccurate use of measuring instruments. Another limitation is that is subject to bias as prior confidence in the hypothesis being true/false can affect the accuracy of observation and interpretation of the results. Finally, the scientific method is subject to deliberate falsification of the results leading to scientific fraud.

3. Describe your understanding of the terms, objectivity and subjectivity.  Explain why both of these are important in acquiring knowledge for evidence-based practice in your fieldwork agency/current or former place of employment.  If you do not have a fieldwork agency/current or former place of employment, choose a field of practice from social work.

Subjective writing is based on personal opinions, interpretations, points of view, and may involve emotions and personal judgement. However, objective writing is based on analyzing the facts, and thus is fact-based, measurable and observable. The two are important in acquiring knowledge for evidence-based practice in my fieldwork in that according to science, a person must conduct research objectively to avoid bias and arrive at the truth and this will help me in getting the facts of a problem. However, the subjective part of the research will also be important in that humans are inherently subjective creatures, and thus, it is not possible to study them in the same way sciences are studied; social science involves studying the behavior of humans and thus subject to emotions and personal judgement. An understanding of both subjectivity and objectivity will help me come out with better research.


4.  Below is a definition of positionality:


“Positionality is the notion that personal values, views, and location in time and space influence how one understands the world. In this context, gender, race, class, and other aspects of identities are indicators of social and spatial positions and are not fixed, given qualities. Positions act on the knowledge a person has about things, both material and abstract. Consequently, knowledge is the product of a specific position that reflects particular places and spaces.” -Luis Sánchez, Positionality (entry in Encyclopedia of Geography) (obtained from the Anti-Racist Teaching Collective, https://www.arteachingcollective.com/positionality.html)


Using the above definition and an example, explain why it is important to consider positionality when examining research studies for evidence-based social work practice.


Positionality is an important consideration in action research because it directly influences how the research is carried out and also determines the prevailing outcomes and results whose voices are to be represented in the final reports. In this perspective, it is essential for new researchers to note that their positionality not only shapes their work, but also tends to influence their interpretation, understanding, and ultimately, their belief in truthfulness and validity of other’s research that they are exposed to. For example, identifying as a Black researcher in a Black community provides a researcher with a better view of the community compared to a white researcher in a white community in regard to police brutality, and this can be attributed to positionality.


5.  Choose a social problem of concern/interest to you.

5a. Discuss one advantage and one disadvantage of using quantitative research to study this social problem.

Racism is one of the major issues in the contemporary society. Using quantitative research to study racism may present advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is that it provides an opportunity to use experiments on how racism affect the society. Quantitative research allows the researcher to conduct experiments with different participants to see the impact of racism. A common disadvantage is that it denies the researcher an opportunity to get a detailed picture. Quantitative research is based on numerical responses and, as a result, they get slightly less insights into thoughts.

5b. Discuss one advantage and one disadvantage of using qualitative research to study this social problem.

Using qualitative research in investigating racism provides the researcher to obtain first-hand information through interviews which can be an open-ended process. A common disadvantage is that it creates subjective data in which the interviewees may provide information that is biased. Racism is an emotive topic to many as they have been subjected to various incidences, and thus, it is impossible to obtain data from both the racist person and the victim without being biased.



6.  Provide three examples of the differences among Positivism and Interpretivism


There are various differences between positivism and interpretivism in regard to behavior, aim, and methods. In regard to behavior, positivism believes that human behavior is based on social norms as society shapes individuals. Interpretivism on the other hand, believes that individuals are complex and that each have different experiences and view the same reality in different ways.

In regard to aim, positivism focus on discovering the laws that govern human behavior. On the other hand, interpretivism aims at gaining an insight into individuals; understanding why people behave in certain ways.

Finally, in regard to methods, positivism emphasize quantitative methods such as statistics, surveys, and questionnaires. On the other hand, interpretivism emphasize qualitative methods such as participant observations and unstructured interviews.

7.  You are a school social worker in an elementary school and you are interested in whether being active in sports can help children who exhibit behavioral problems in the classroom improve their ability to stay focused.   Write a well-formulated hypothesis for this situation that you could test through a research study.


Being active in sports help children exhibiting behavioral problems improve their ability to stay focused in the classroom

8. Provide an example of a


            8a. Quantitative research question and justify your response

How can being active in sports help children exhibiting behavioral problems improve their ability to stay focused in the classroom?

            8b. Qualitative research question and justify your response


Can being active in sports help children exhibiting behavioral problems improve their ability to stay focused in the classroom?



1.   Which of the following statements is correct about evidence-based practice? Choose all that apply.

A.  It combines practitioner expertise with client characteristics and best research evidence.

B.  It is a list of interventions that will be effective with every client.

C.  It refers to decisions about intervention effectiveness, only.

D.  Client needs, values and goals are less important than research evidence when selecting the best intervention.

E.   It is a process of lifelong learning.


2.  Which of the following statements best typifies a mixed methods study?

A.  Uses more than one type of quantitative method.

B.  Uses more than one type of qualitative method.

C. Combines a quantitative method with a qualitative method.

D.  Combines both cross-sectional and longitudinal approaches.


3.  Which of the following statements is true about the need to critique the quality of a research study?

A.  Practitioners can rely on researchers to produce good studies and therefore only have to know the results of those studies.

B.  If a research study gets published, practitioners can be assured that it is of high quality.

C. Social work practitioners need to understand research methods so they can discriminate strong from weak studies.

D.  There is no need to critique the quality of research.



4. Which of the following statements is true about selecting a social work research question?

A.  The selection should be based exclusively on the researcher’s personal curiosity.

B. The question should have relevance to guiding social welfare policy, social work practice, and/or social work education.

C.  Reading the research literature on the topic should be put off until after the research question is finalized.

D.  The selection should be based on a question that has never been studied before.



5. Which of the following characterizes qualitative research studies? Choose all that apply.A. The data collected are mostly numerical.B. Participants are asked mostly closed ended questions.

C. They are guided by the scientific method.D. They frequently have an explanatory purpose.E. They are frequently used to understand more deeply findings from quantitative studies.

F. Values are an integral part of the research process.


6.   Which of the following characterizes quantitative research studies? Choose all that apply.


A.    There is an emphasis on being able to generalize research findings.

B.     Rich descriptions that provide contextual details are sought when collecting data.

C.     Large sample sizes tend to be needed.

D.    Participants are asked mostly open-ended questions.

E.     Facts stand independent of the knower and can be known in an undistorted way.

F.      The data collected are primarily non-numerical.


7.  True or False: Concepts and variables are the same. ___True_________


8.      The Belmont Report was written by the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research. It created measures to protect human subjects. These include:

A.    Service, Social Justice, and integrity

B.     Respect for persons, competence, and justice

C.     Beneficence, justice, and respect for persons

D.    Importance of human relationships, Beneficence, and justice

E.     None of the above

9.  Which of the following statements is (are) true about the scientific method?

A. Some things are not open to question.

B. High quality studies need not be replicated.

C. All knowledge is considered tentative.

D. A, B, and C are true.

E. None of these are true.

10.  Read the abstract below:

Abstract Historical trauma theory is a relatively new concept in public health. The premise of this theory is that populations historically subjected to long-term, mass trauma—colonialism, slavery, war, genocide— exhibit a higher prevalence of disease even several generations after the original trauma occurred. Understanding how historical trauma might influence the current health status of racial/ethnic populations in the U.S. may provide new directions and insights for eliminating health disparities. This article offers an analysis of the theoretical framework of historical trauma theory and provides a general review of the literature. A conceptual model is introduced illustrating how historical trauma might play a role in disease prevalence and health disparities. Finally, implications for public health practice and research are discussed.

Sotero, M. (2006). A Conceptual Model of Historical Trauma: Implications for Public Health Practice and Research.

The abstract is an example of a:


A.    Empirical article

B.     Theoretical article

  Extra credit (10 points):


A social worker counseling LGBTQ high school students attended a one-day workshop on solution focused therapy (SFT) and is curious about whether SFT can be an effective approach for helping her clients develop greater skill in dealing with interpersonal difficulties at school.  After reviewing a number of studies on SFT, few of which relate to school settings, she receives funding to implement a study where she compares the effectiveness of SFT interventions with the psycho-educational approach currently being used at her high school.  She wants to know if SFT interventions can lead to greater skill in dealing with interpersonal difficulties at school. 


What would be the primary purpose of this study – exploratory, descriptive, evaluative, or explanatory?  Explain how you know.

The primary purpose of the study would be to investigate whether SFT interventions can lead to greater skill in dealing with interpersonal difficulties at school. The study is evaluative in nature. Evaluative research is a form of disciplined and systematic inquiry that is carried out to arrive at an assessment or appraisal of an object, program, practice, activity or system with the purpose of providing information that will be used in decision-making. I know that it is an evaluative research study because the social worker seeks to assess the solution focused therapy (SFT) and compare its results with the psycho-educational approach that is currently being used in at her high school in order to ascertain which is better in providing greater skills in dealing with interpersonal difficulties at school among the LGBTQ students.

What is the independent variable in this study? Explain how you know.

The solution focused therapy (SFT) – This is the variable that is being investigated to show whether it can be more effective compared to the current psycho-education approach currently being used at her school.

 What is the dependent variable in this study? Explain how you know

Skills in dealing with interpersonal difficulties in school – The interpersonal skills are dependent on the SFT. If the SFT is effective, the students will acquire greater skills, but is it is less effective, the students will gain less skills, thus unable to cope with interpersonal difficulties. Based on this, developing greater skills is dependent on the SFT.

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