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.
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