Social Work

University of Mississippi

Ph.D. in Social Welfare

Course Descriptions

SW 701: Colloquium I

Colloquium I is designed to provide a foundation for doctoral study at the University of Mississippi Department of Social Work. The purpose of the course is to present issues in social work research, define standards for scholarly achievement, and prepare students for successful independent scholarship. Students are expected to use the information provided in this course to clarify their long-term scholarly goals and to develop an educational plan to achieve them. Colloquium I exposes doctoral students to social science research knowledge and skills by reading and analyzing social science and social work research, framing researchable questions, and evaluating and critiquing research methodology in published empirical studies. This course will prepare students for Colloquium II, as well as prepare them for their professional roles in conducting, analyzing, and/or evaluating social work research dedicated to closing the gap between the demands of the social work practice world and the limited empirical bases for responding to critical social welfare issues.

SW 702: Research Design in Social Work

In the first part of this yearlong course, students will understand a scientific analytic approach to building knowledge for respective topics in the field of social work. Different theoretical bases and methodological procedures for social work research are addressed, as are basic statistical procedures including developing research questions based on the literature, hypothesis formulation, measurement, sampling, and data collection. Ethical standards of scientific inquiry are emphasized with attention to protecting and promoting the well-being of vulnerable and at-risk populations, as well as culturally sensitive research methods. Students will be able to understand the reciprocity between social work research, and practice, theory, policy, and education. Ultimately, students are expected to develop a research proposal including research questions, design, and hypothesis that will be carried out in part II of the course.

SW 703: Topics with At-Risk Populations

This course examines evidence-informed and evidenced-based research with diverse and at-risk populations. The focus is on understanding social work research in global, diverse, multicultural societies with an emphasis on developing an anti-oppression framework that promotes social and economic justice, human dignity, and the pursuit of human rights.

SW 704: Theories & Research in Neuro & Behavioral Science

Scientific research in the field of neuroscience continues to make profound discoveries regarding brain systems, neurobiology, and their implications for social work. This course will provide foundations in neurobiological study through a social work perspective. Students will acquire a fundamental understanding of interacting brain systems as they influence individuals’ behavioral, social, and emotional worlds. Particular emphasis will be placed on the biological and environmental factors affecting development and behavior through the study of epigenetics and its influence on daily functioning.

SW 705: Applied and Inferential Statistics

Students in this course are introduced to the concepts and procedures that are fundamental to both applied and inferential statistics. Empirical research examining selected topics with at-risk populations is explored. Students will carry out proposals developed in the first semester Research Design course using existing national data sets. Students will conduct an analytic strategy to answer their research questions effectively. Emphasis is also placed on gaining skills in presenting and communicating important results to relevant audiences and stakeholders. Students will be introduced to statistical analysis of measuring instruments (including procedures for evaluating the reliability and validity of tests and surveys), descriptive statistics, measures of variability and correlation, general linear models (including regression analysis, analysis of variance and covariance), and nonlinear models, such as logistic regression.

SW 706: History of Social Welfare

This course surveys the evolution of social welfare with a focus on gender, class, and race. The course examines the development of social welfare systems and the underlying philosophies in the context of the social, economic, political, and cultural environments in which they emerged. Topics include the development and history of social work, the development of contemporary social welfare, the professionalization of social work, and methods of social policy analysis.

SW 708: Colloquium II

The content of this course builds upon and extends the social science research knowledge and skills acquired in Colloquium I and strengthens students’ abilities to conduct original social science research. Colloquium II affords students the opportunity to develop and refine the organizational and critical thinking skills that are required for writing literature reviews. This course also will serve as a vehicle for exploring and understanding the ethics of conducting research in collaboration with others and for examining the ethical principles and values attendant to scholarly publication in social work. In Colloquium II, students focus on a set of skills that are essential to their professional roles as social work researchers: reading, analyzing, and evaluating published social science literature reviews, and developing and disseminating a critical and comprehensive review of literature in a social work substantive area of interest in order to ameliorate distress among our most vulnerable population.

SW 709: Social Policy Analysis

Social Policy Analysis focuses on research conducted to inform social welfare policy. It exposes students to numerous types of policy-related research including social problem assessment, comparative research, historical research, implementation research, and numerous types of qualitative and quantitative outcome-related research. Policies related to the problem of poverty have been selected as the content focus of this class since this issue is especially salient in the state of Mississippi and for many social work clients internationally. By analyzing and critiquing numerous types of research related to policy, students will learn the many ways research influences policy and begin to define their roles as researchers in social work, a policy-based profession.

SW 710: Issues & Research Problems in SW Interventions

A systematic approach to the design, implementation, and evaluation of social work interventions provides the framework for developing models that address a range of social issues and needs.

SW 711: Qualitative Methods in Social Work Research

The purpose of this class is to introduce students to the theories, assumptions, and practices underlying the use of qualitative research in social work. In the tradition of survey courses, this class examines the broad history, concepts, and themes that distinguish multiple methods of qualitative research, specifically as they relate to social work research. Students will study, practice, and reflect on different qualitative research methodologies and consider the components and challenges faced when engaging in qualitative research methods. Each student will design and conduct his/her own qualitative study using ethnography. Issues related to data collection, negotiating access to the field, ethics, and representation will be of particular importance. While it is not assumed that students will gain a comprehensive understanding of all qualitative research traditions over the trajectory of the course, it is expected that, upon completion, students will acquire the foundational knowledge and experience to begin evaluating, selecting, and defending appropriate ethnographic methods for use in their own research projects.

SW 712: Advanced Statistics in Social Work

This course will cover a wide range of research situations that require longitudinal and mediation analyses, comparisons between groups, and analyses that include data from multiple sources such as from parents, teachers, and children. The course will focus on using the Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) analyses, a widespread approach that gained popularity from the early ’80s. SEM merges confirmatory factor analysis with path analysis and provides means for constructing, testing, and comparing comprehensive structural path models as well as comparing the goodness of fit of models and their adequacy across multiple groups (samples). Among other advantages of SEM over the traditional path analysis is that it provides adjustment for the relative unreliability of the observed measures, overall goodness of fit measures, and tests for comparing models. Without adjustment for reliability, results from traditional path analyses confound the substantive contribution of predictors with their relative methodological strength as indicated by their reliabilities. This confounding may lead to seriously flawed conclusions in the interpretation of the results. This course will cover the conceptual and technical issues relevant to the application of Structural Equation Modeling. Following the presentation of major conceptual issues, five basic structural models will be described in detail. The models vary from simple to more complex ones. The description and discussion of the models will provide students with the knowledge and skills to apply SEM techniques using Stata software for analyzing, evaluating, and reporting results produced by this analytic method. This knowledge is easily transferable to the use of EQS, LISREL, or AMOS software. Course work will require the students to construct and test a structural model using their own data or data from available data sets and produce a paper reporting their analysis.

SW 715: Forensic Social Work

This forensic social work course seeks to understand and assess the delivery of social work services within justice settings and contexts to offending populations. The course examines both direct and community practice approaches and issues with adult and juvenile offender populations. Effective evidence-based interventions with offenders, as well as related policies, systems, and human and social services agencies are assessed.

SW 719: Dissertation Seminar

The focus of this course is on preparation and planning of research that leads to a dissertation or publishable manuscripts. Emphasis is on developing ideas for a research topic, its formulation, operationalization, and design. Students will learn the components of formulating research question(s), developing a rationale for research, and the elements of a good literature review. Published research will be examined and critiqued. May be repeated for up to 21 hours of credit.