PRST 5300 / 6300 / 7300
Research Methods

3 Credit Hours

Course Information

Course Description:

The study and application of research methods appropriate to professional studies.  The course will provide a general introduction to research methods, as well as providing practical exposure to problem statements, Literature Reviews, Writing the Research Proposal, and Organization of the Research Report.  Quantitative and Qualitative Research methodologies will be briefly covered in preparation for the later courses in these areas.

Course Objectives:

The objectives of this course are to present the basic concepts and strategies in research which transcend the boundaries of specific academic areas.  These basic concepts include obtaining data, analysis of data, interpretation of data and statement of conclusions.  This course will guide students from problem selection to completed research report with practical suggestions based on a solid theoretical framework and sound pedagogical devices.  Students will come to understand that research needs planning and design, and they will discover how their own research projects can be executed effectively and professionally.  From this basic beginning, specific requirements of academic disciplines can be added in later courses.

Prerequisites and Corequisites:
Acceptance into the MPS program or departmental permission.
Course Topics:

    1. What Is Research?
    2. Tools of Research. 

    3. The Problem: The Heart of the Research Process.
    4. Review of the Related Literature.
    5. Planning Your Research Project.
    6. Writing the Research Proposal. 

    7. Qualitative Research.
    8. Historical Research.

    9. Descriptive Research.
  10. Experimental and Ex Post Facto Designs.
  11. Statistical Techniques for Analyzing Quantitative Data. 

  12. Technical Details: Style, Format, and Organization of the Research Report. 

Specific Course Requirements:
The student must be knowledgeable in the use of the microcomputer, a Word Processing package, the Internet, and related browsers such as Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer. It is the studentsí responsibility to ensure that their service provider is capable of allowing adequate connection time to complete assignments.  
Application of theory is an important aspect of any research course.  The appendix of the text book describes the use of SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences).  Students should have access to a statistical package to perform the data analysis within their projects.
Each chapter (approximately one per week) will have readings, an assignment, and a practice quiz.  There will be 4 major exams (over 3 chapters each) after chapters 3, 6, 9, and 12.  Additionally, there will be a final "mini project" which will be completed throughout the course.  Learning and skills from each chapter is to be applied immediately to the mini project. See additional instructions on this project in the course materials.
Participation and collaboration will be an integral part of this course and will be graded accordingly.
Textbooks, Supplementary Materials, Hardware and Software Requirements
Required Textbooks:
Please visit the Virtual Bookstore to obtain textbook information for this course:
Supplementary Materials:
Hardware Requirements:
The minimum requirements can be found at Specific hardware requirements for this course include a microphone or a microphone/headphone combination.  This is to be used in the Voice annotated PowerPoint submission for the final project.
Software Requirements:
The minimum requirements can be found at Specific software requirements for this course include: Adobe Acrobat Reader (free download from Adobe), Powerpoint Reader (free download from Microsoft), and Microsoft Word, or equivalent Word Processing software (such as Open Office) that can produce a Microsoft Word ".doc" file or ".rtf" file.  Students will be expected to have access to Microsoft Powerpoint 2003 or equivalent in order to produce a voice-annotated Powerpoint delivery for the courses presentation requirement.  Additional software may be required, but will be available with the text book or from the publisher's website.
Instructor Information
Please see the separate page inside the course to find instructor contact information as well as a statement of virtual office hours and other communication information.
Assessment and Grading
Testing Procedures:
All exams will be given online via WebCT.  Check the calendar for exam dates and related information.  All online exams and quizzes are timed and will only be available at specific times.  If a student is unable to take an exam at the scheduled time, the instructor must be notified of the fact no later than 48 hours PRIOR to the scheduled exam time for a makeup to be scheduled.  Failure to notify the instructor no less than 48 hours prior to the exam being given will result in no makeup being allowed and a grade of 0 being given for that quiz or exam.
Grading Procedure:
Grades for this course will be determined by adequate completion of all required exams, research papers, the required voice-annotated Powerpoint presentation, the final project, and class participation in the various discussion forums.  The exact percentage of each deliverable will be included in the instructor addendum.
Grading Scale:

90 - 100 ---A
80 -  89  ---B
70 -  79  ---C
Below 70 - F

To remain in good standing a graduate student must maintain an overall grade point average of 3.0 (B) or better. Graduate credit will be given for grades of "A", "B", and "C" in graduate level courses. Graduate credit is not awarded for Pass/Fail grades. Grades of P or F do not count toward degree requirements. All RODP graduate course grades earned by a student will be used in computing the grade point average. An overall average of 3.0 is required for admission to candidacy and for graduation.


Assignments and Participation
Assignments and Projects:
Each student must choose a topic from their own interests to be a research topic for this class.  The student is to apply each chapter's learning to their own research topic during the practical applications.
Class Participation:
Interactivity is an important part of this course.  In order to insure interactivity, students will be required to participate in discussion forums as posted by the instructor.  Students are also expected to maintain communications with the instructor via WebCT email.

All assignments, quizzes, exams, and discussions are set with timers to insure punctuality.  Students are expected to complete all deliverables within the allotted time.

Course Ground Rules
Participation is required for successful completion of this course. Each student is expected to communicate with other students in team projects where applicable and a portion of the grade will come from the other team members.  Students are expected to learn how to navigate in WebCT and keep abreast of course announcements.  The WebCT assigned e-mail address is to be used as opposed a personal e-mail address.  Technical problems need to be addressed immediately.  Failure to submit assignments due to technical problems will not be considered grounds for leniency as it is the student's obligation to communicate problems with the instructor and to obtain technical assistance from the appropriate sources. Course netiquette is to be observed at all times. 
Guidelines for Communications
  • Always include a subject line.
  • Remember without facial expressions some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your emails. Use of emoticons might be helpful in some cases.
  • Use standard fonts.
  • Do not send large attachments without permission.
  • Special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, html, etc. should be avoided unless necessary to complete an assignment or other communication.
  • Respect the privacy of other class members
Discussion Groups:
  • Review the discussion threads thoroughly before entering the discussion. Be a lurker then a discussant.
  • Try to maintain threads by using the "Reply" button rather starting a new topic.
  • Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group. Be respectful of otherís ideas.
  • Be patient and read the comments of other group members thoroughly before entering your remarks.
  • Be cooperative with group leaders in completing assigned tasks.
  • Be positive and constructive in group discussions.
  • Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner.
  • Introduce yourself to the other learners in the chat session.
  • Be polite. Choose your words carefully. Do not use derogatory statements.
  • Be concise in responding to others in the chat session.
  • Be prepared to open the chat session at the scheduled time.
  • Be constructive in your comments and suggestion
Web Resources:


The Tennessee Virtual Library is available to all students enrolled in the Regents Degree Program. Links to library materials (such as electronic journals, databases, interlibrary loans, digital reserves, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and librarian support) and Internet resources needed by learners to complete online assignments and as background reading must be included in all courses. 

Students With Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable and necessary academic accommodations if determined eligible by the appropriate disability services staff at their home institution. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student's eligibility for specific accommodations from the disability services staff at the home institution. It is the student's responsibility to initiate contact with their home institution's disability services staff and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Syllabus Changes

The instructor reserves the left to make changes as necessary to this syllabus. If changes are necessitated during the term of the course, the instructor will immediately notify students of such changes both by individual email communication and posting both notification and nature of change(s) on the course bulletin board.

Technical Support

Telephone Support:
If you are having problems logging into your course,
timing out of your course, using your course web site tools, or other technical problems, please contact the Eduprise Help Desk by calling

1-866-550-7637 (toll free)

or go to their website at: