Research Methodology and Program Evaluation

COUN 6626: Research Methodology and Program Evaluation

Week 4 Scholarly Article Content Analysis

Case Conceptualization:

Orion is a 4-year-old African American child. He comes into counseling referred by his primary pediatrician. Orion has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. He has difficulty with communication, has deficits in empathizing with others’ intentions, and struggles with single-mindedness. Orion’s parents and preschool teacher have noticed a pervasive pattern of emotional dysregulation which includes frequent episodes of hysterical crying. Orion’s parents are concerned that he is not going to be promoted to kindergarten next year if he does not improve his ability to relate positively with others and improve his ability to regulate his emotions.


Kenny, M. C., & Winick, C. B. (2000). An integrative approach to play therapy with an autistic girl. International Journal of Play Therapy9, 11–33. doi:10.1037/h0089438

1. Is the article above a peer-reviewed, scholarly source?

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Tip: Peer review is part of the editorial process an article goes through before it is published in a peer-reviewed journal. Once an article is submitted to a peer-reviewed journal, the journal editors send that article to “peers” or scholars in the field to evaluate the article. To determine if a journal is peer reviewed (also sometimes called refereed journals), try one or both of these steps:

· Look up the journal in the (available on the A-Z Database List) and determine whether it is identified as peer reviewedUlrich’s is a directory. It is a searchable list of periodicals (magazines, journals, newspapers, etc.). It provides information about each periodical such as publisher, scope, and whether the journal uses peer review. 

· Examine the journal’s website and review the submission and editorial process for evidence of peer review.

2. What is the (a) problem the researchers were investigating/purpose of the research and (b) research question the researchers were trying to answer?

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Tip: All studies have a research question that drives the investigation (what the researchers are trying to learn). Sometimes this is formally stated while other times the reader must discover this information which can usually be found in the Abstract or the Introduction section. The Results section or the Discussion section will provide the answer(s) to the research question. Research studies can use either quantitative, qualitative or mixed methods to investigate the question. Sometimes researchers are investigating more than one intervention and so research questions may include multiple parts. Be sure to review all parts of the inquiry or use multiple questions to explain.

3. Describe the sample/participants in the study. Be sure to include how many participants were included in the study.

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Tip: Participants are also known as the sample. Quantitative studies generally have larger samples sizes than qualitative studies. Case studies may have one main “case” which may include a single person, a family, a group, or community. You want to describe who (e.g., demographics) and how many persons participated in the study.

4. Did the researchers secure permission to conduct the study and/or secure informed consent from the participants? Were there any cultural concerns noted?

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Tip: Cultural considerations are related to research procedures. Consider whether there were cultural elements that may have changed the way the study took place such as language barriers, the need for an interpreter, and whether the sample matches the population that the researchers say they are studying.

The key is to consider what cultural factors are pertinent to the research question. If you say you are studying an intervention for depression, the sample needs to include persons with depression. If a study is not specific to race or gender, for example, that does not make it culturally insensitive if the researches didn’t set out to learn about that intervention specifically applied to race or gender.

5. Identify exactly what data was collected by the researchers in the study.

Is the data quantitative (numeric data such as scores on assessments like the Iowa Basic Skills Test (IBST) or the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI)?

Is the data qualitative (for example, clinical intake interviews or a narrative behavioral observation?

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Tip: The variables (e.g., substance abuse) or characteristic (e.g., geographic location) being investigated is usually found in the Introduction and Method sections (and sometimes the Abstract). For example: if a researcher is investigating an intervention for the treatment of depression. The variable may be “level of depression” and the data collected could be scores on the Beck Depression Scale.

All data points represent something the researcher is trying to investigate. Data can be quantitative (like a measurement, frequency, or score that is represented by a numeral) or qualitative (data captured using written or spoken words, observations or photos). This includes things like student academic or behavioral records, historical documents, records, or artifacts like diaries or case notes.

6. What was the outcome or the general findings of the study?

What is the answer to the research question?

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Tip: The Discussion section is where what the authors present how the results can be applied when working with clients or students. The authors will articulate their greatest take away from the study outcomes and what they view as most important to know to meet the needs of clients or students with similar needs.

7. Based on your understanding of the findings, discuss how the outcomes can be generally applied to counseling practice.

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Tip: The authors identify if the results of the investigation support their hypothesis and present the major findings. The Results section and the Discussion section present the answer to the question the researchers were trying to learn. Keep in mind that when you are investigating an intervention, the results could be mixed. In other words, the intervention might be successful, not successful, or partially successful.

8. How does this research article apply to the case study at the top of the worksheet?

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Tip: While there are similarities and differences between the article and the case study on the worksheet, describe how the general outcomes from the article relate to the case study. Explain your insights into how the information from the article could be useful to meet the needs of the case study.

NOTE: As a counselor, what did you interpret from the outcomes of the research study in the article that you could use in developing treatment goals or action plans for the child in the case study on the worksheet?

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