Syllabus:  Fall 2011
(50:920:301) Methods and Techniques of Social Research  

Instructor:  Ted Goertzel  email:
Teaching Assistant:  Ekaterina Shohat  Email:
Mays Landing Assistant:  Elizabeth Moore   Email:

Link to recordings of classes

Link to our Virtual Classroom.

This is a "hybrid internet" class.  We will have occasional class sessions in a classroom, but most classes will be offered online using the
SAKAI course management system
and the Blackboard Collaborate virtual classroom.  Class will meet online from 7:30 to 8:50 on Thursdays, beginning on September 1, 2011.  The first class will be held physically on the Camden campus in Fine Arts 110 and virtually in Blackboard Collaborate (formerly elluminate live!). The final examination will be given in class (or on the Atlantic Cape Community College campus for students there).  Weekly quizzes and homework assignments will be online.  Some classes may be held at Atlantic Cape Community College in Mays Landing if there is enough enrollment there and the students would like an on campus class.  You can participate from your home or from a computer lab on campus or anyplace else where you have a computer, an internet connection, a microphone and headphones.  It is preferable that you also have a video camera so we can see you as well as hear you.  These can be purchased quite inexpensively if your computer did not come with them.  The link to our Virtual Classroom is here.  No special software is required, everything you need is downloaded from the Blackboard Collaborate site.

Our class discussions will take place in the Blackboard Collaboratevirtual classroom. You should log onto this classroom a few minutes before the session is scheduled to begin.   You should have headphones so you can speak as well as listen (otherwise we get feedback).  It is best if you also have a video camera so we can see you as well.  However, only a few students can be on audio or video at a time, so you need to raise your virtual hand and I will call on you.

The virtual classroom is a Java application.  If you do not have Java on your computer, Blackboard Collaboratewill prompt you to install it.  It is best to try this out for the first time a few hours before class.    For illustrated instructions on how to access the virtual classroom, click here

To log onto the virtual classroom for this class, click here

Attendance at the online class sessions on Thursday evenings is required and
Blackboard collaborate will automatically take attendance for all virtual sessions.  You should be prepared to be called on to participate in discussions if you do not volunteer by raising your (virtual) hand. 
All sessions will be recorded, and you may make-up missed sessions by viewing the session and posting a 250 word reaction paper to the dropbox on SAKAI.  The reaction paper must refer specifically to things discussed in class, not just to things in the readings or posted PowerPoints.  To submit a reaction paper:  1)  write it in a word processor, 2) copy it, 3) paste it into the box on the "reaction paper" link in SAKAI.  All reaction papers must be submitted before the next class is scheduled to begin.  If you wait until after that, the assignment box will be closed.

All assignments for this course will be listed in the SAKAI course management system.  You should click on the Assignments and Resources link along the left of our SAKAI course page (when it is opened), then click on the folder for each week.   A new page of reading assignments, sometimes including powerpoint presentations and videos, will be posted on Friday of each week.  Preliminary versions may be posted earlier for your convenience, but may be updated as late as Friday to allow for including things that come up in class on Tuesday night.   Some reading materials will be posted on the Internet and will be linked from the weekly assignment page.  Others will be posted in the weekly SAKAI resources folder.  Writing assignments will also be announced on the weekly assignment page.

To find the quizzes and assignments, log onto SAKAI, look for the tab for our course, and click on "Assignments & Materials." If you have taken many SAKAI courses before, you may have to rearrange your tabs to see our course.  Click on the My Workspace tab and on Membership to see all your courses.  Click on Preferences and Customize Tabs to set SAKAI so that your current courses appear at the top of the page.

There will be a weekly research or statistics assignment and  two versions of each weekly quiz.  The "early bird" version of the quiz will close promptly at 11 p.m. on Tuesday of each week.  The "last chance" version will close promptly at 5 p.m. on Thursday.  The weekly assignment will close at 11 p.m. on Wednesday each week (unless announced otherwise on the weekly assignment page.) The two versions of the quizzes will be similar, but the items will not all be the same.  The highest of your two quiz scores will count.  If you miss the "early bird" quiz, your "last chance" score will count.  If you have a computer crash or other problem, you should email me immediately:   There will be no make-ups for technical reasons unless you email me within one hour of the official closing time of the quiz.  Grading will be based on attendance and participation, weekly quizzes and assignments, and midterm and final exams.

This is an introductory course in the methods and techniques of social research as used in criminal justice, sociology and related fields. This course is a prerequisite for Ethics and Policy in Criminal Justice and Theories of Crime and Delinquency.

It is helpful if students have had at least an introductory course in sociology or criminal justice before taking this course.  Prior work in statistics is not required.  Topics include research design, conceptualization and measurement, sampling, experiments, survey research, evaluation research, quantifying data, scale construction, making graphs and data analysis.  Particular emphasis is placed on survey research and on time series analysis of trend data. 

 Specific objectives of this course are:
1. To learn enough about social research to be able to read original research reports published in social science journals.
2. To learn how to design questionnaires, collect survey data, and analyze the data.
3. To learn how to analyze data from published statistical sources such as The Statistical Abstract of the United States.
4. To learn how to use statistical software packages and how to access statistical data on the World Wide Web.
5. To learn how to make graphs of statistical data.
6. To develop skills in the logical and empirical analysis of social problems.
7. To learn how computerized statistics data ("CompStat") can be used in lowering crime rates and managing other social problems


The textbook for this course will be Understanding Research by W. Lawrence Neuman.    This book can be accessed in three ways:

  1. You can purchase it as a paperback book.  It will be ordered at the campus bookstore and is also available from the publisher, or from, Barnes and Noble, and other booksellers.  Some used copies are available online.  The list price is $80.60 but Amazon lists it for $63.63 and Barnes and Noble rents it sor $24.18.  This gets you a convenient bound volume with color graphics that may be more appealing than reading online.  Of course, if you buy the book you can keep the book for reference or recover part of the cost by selling it at the end of the term.
  2. You can buy a 180 day subscription to the electronic edition of the text for $32.25.  The content and illustrations are identical.  This allows you to read the book on a computer, and to print out pages, up to 10 pages at a time.  The electronic texts are also searchable.     Click Here for Access to Online Subscriptions.  You can also try a sample to see if you like it, or get a free trial.  An online subscription allows you to read the book on any computer that is connected to the internet.  You do not need to install any software on your computer.   You can also read it on an iPod Touch or iPhone, but you may need to update the operating system  (download the CourseSmart app from the iTunes store).
Considerable use is made of computers in this course.  No prior computer background or experience is assumed.  All assignments will  be in the SAKAI course management system. We will use the General Social Survey Online, which requires no special software.   We will use the Excel spreadsheet program, which you may already have as part of the Microsoft Office packageWe no longer use the Microcase system because it didn't work on Macintosh computers.