Identification and Measurement of Variables

Identification and Measurement of Variables Essay Assignment

Research Question: How does the military lifestyle during a time of war, affect the social development of children in military families.

1. Identification of Variables

At this point in the semester, you have learned about the different types of variables a social work researcher might include in developing a research study. In this assignment, you will identify the independent variable(s), dependent variable(s) and other variables that you would likely include in a study to answer your research question.

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List and briefly describe the variables of interest that would likely be included in a study to answer your research question. Beyond the main couple of variables, you might plan to include, think more broadly. Consider the other kinds of information you might need in order to describe for others the characteristics of the sample included in your research. Also think about other things related to your research area that it might make sense to measure. In some cases, this might involve measuring several outcome variables in order to understand the outcome more effectively. In other instances, it might involve including other variables that further explain an outcome of interest. Often these are referred to as moderating, mediating or control variables. For the purpose of this assignment, try to consider a range of types of information that might be important to gather as you imagine how research could be conducted. (Suggested length: One page)

2. Variable Summary Table

As a summary, reproduce the table below – VARIABLE SUMMARY TABLE – and provide the requested information about the type of variables, values, levels of measurement and operational definitions of at least five variables you would likely include in your study. Examples are included.

Variable Example Type Values Operational Definition Level of Measurement
Re-Entry Intervention

Independent Variable

· Intense re-entry services

· Usual re-entry services

Research records Nominal Dichotomy

Control Variable

· Male

· Female

· Transgendered

Self-Report Questionnaire Nominal Categorical
Substance Use

Dependent Variable

Score on scale Smith Substance Abuse Scale Interval/Ratio

Dependent Variable

· Yes

· No

Official police records (Archival data) Nominal Dichotomy
Strength of Social Support

Moderating Variable

Score on scale Jones Social Support Network Scale Interval/Ratio
Income from work

Dependent Variable

Amount of $’s earned in salary Self-Report Questionnaire Ratio

*Note: If one of your independent variables happens to be a treatment condition (e.g., gets an intervention or not), briefly list the different conditions here. By the time your final portfolio is submitted, you will need to describe the different conditions in more detail based on your research design.

3. Measurement of Variables

Social work graduate students are expected to understand and/or use specific tools or processes for measuring outcomes (dependent variables). This will often involve selecting measurement instruments and utilizing other data collection techniques. In the Variable Summary Table you provided information about how you might measure each of the dependent variables (operational definitions). For this assignment you need to be sure that at least one of the variables you included can be measured using a known scale or instrument.

a. Choose one identified variable for which a scale would be used to measure the variable and locate a known scale or instrument. You will likely find it helpful to use tools located on the Social Work librarian’s website at USC, (, or through readings and resources in the syllabus. For this scale, summarize the following:

Identification and Measurement of Variables Assignment

1. Describe the instrument including how it is administered, scoring procedures, and any other relevant information about the measurement strategy;

2. Discuss who the measure has been tested with (study participants) and any potential populations that the measure may not be useful for, given cultural and linguistic considerations for your study. This is usually referred as “norms” in the description of the scale;

3. Provide a description of the reliability of the instrument, demonstrating an understanding of the meaning of this concept and how reliability is evaluated. Do not simply cite the content included in the description or critique.

4. Provide a description of the validity of the instrument, demonstrating an understanding of the meaning of this concept and how validity is evaluated. Do not simply cite the content included in the description or critique.

b. Choose another variable where a different method of measurement besides a known scale or instrument (e.g., self-report, archival records, biological data, or observation) is used to measure the variable. Describe the merits and drawbacks of using this approach in terms of the concepts of reliability and validity. Consider issues such as the accuracy of the data, the consistency of the data collection protocols and how the data collection might be impacted by such factors as memory, honesty, and social desirability. Does this measurement process capture the conceptual meaning of the variable as intended?

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