Spring 2006 Methods Comp

SPRING 2006 CSULA Department of Sociology

Comprehensive MA Examination in METHODS


Answer BOTH questions in Section I.

Choose ONE question in section II.

Choose ONE question in Section III.


Answer ALL PARTS of each of the FOUR questions you select.



Cheating or plagiarism will result in failure of this comprehensive examination and expulsion from the California State University Los Angeles MA Program in Sociology..




Do NOT copy the question at the beginning of your answer; simply label your answer appropriately.


Label each part of your answer. à For example, if you selected Question A. in Section I, you would label the sections of your answer as A1. A2. A3. and A4. This will help you make certain that you have answered each of the required parts of the question. It will help the readers too.


Explain your answers à Be sure to explain or justify your answers fully.  Your explanations for your methodological choices are at least as important as the choices themselves.




Plan preparation time à Plan your time so you can do some initial work to ready yourself to answer the questions – 10-15 minutes of planning before writing your answer is generally a good idea. BEFORE beginning to write, review the 4 questions you plan to answer -- making brief notes of the points you intend to cover for each of the questions you select The better your prep-time use, the more likely you are to have the best quality you are capable of in your answers.


Plan review time à Plan your time so you can read over your work and add to it if needed as the final stage of the exam 15 minutes is usually recommended. .


Pace yourself à Recognize that some questions may take longer to answer than will others. Keep this in mind as you select your questions and get organized: Section III is generally expected to take the longest time.



Remember, this is a 5-hour exam. This gives you 4 hours to write your answers even if you spend an hour in preparation and review.


Good Luck


Section I.  General, Overall Methodological Considerations


Answer BOTH Question A. AND Question B.

Use clear examples and be specific.



Pick THREE  methods from the list below.

·         Face-to-face, one-on-one interviews with open-ended questions

·         Mailed questionnaires with closed-ended/forced-choice questions

·         Experimental Method

·         Content Analysis

·         Participant Observation (PO) WITH the researcher identified

·         Non-Participant Observation with Researcher NOT identified

·         Research using Extant Data Base

·         Comparative-Historical Analysis

·         Network Analysis


Answer ALL 4 questions (A1.-A4.) for EACH of the 3 methods you selected.

A1. Briefly describe this method.

A2. What are the strengths of this method?

A3. What are the weaknesses of this method?

A4. Describe a research situation in which this method is the best approach to collecting data. Explain why.




QUESTION B.          

Pick ONE from the list of claims below.

·         The welfare reform movement claims that without cut-off dates people will choose welfare as a permanent lifestyle when they could have found jobs.

·         The back-to-marriage movement claims that greater difficulty in obtaining divorce will decrease poverty and violent crime.

·         The cell phone companies claim that there is no need for legislation restricting the use of cell phones while driving because it has no real effect on safety.


Complete all 4 of the questions (B1.-B4.) in relation to the statement you chose.

B1.      Write an appropriate formal hypothesis designed to establish whether circumstances more strongly            support             or refute these claims. Make sure your hypothesis is written to be testable and to predict a            relationship between a dependent and an independent variable.

B2.      Define “Independent variable” and identify it in your hypothesis.

B3.      Define “Dependent Variable” and identify it in your hypothesis.

B4.      Briefly explain how a research sociologist could test the hypothesis you wrote.  What methodological approach would they use and why?






Section II. Measurement Issues in Methodology


Answer only  ONE of the following four questions (C.-F.).

answer all parts of the question you chose.





A survey has been conducted to test the following hypothesis:

Men, as compared to women are more likely to marry again within 2 years of a divorce.


C1. Calculate the percentage distributions.

C2. Perform an appropriate statistical test of significance.

C3. Based on the computed percentages and test of significance, is the hypothesis valid? Explain your answer.



Status 2 Years after Divorce

Men n=85

Women n=120












Gloria wants to know if “jet lag” is affected by the time-zone changes a traveler experiences. Gloria used three groups of people to examine how many days it takes them to adjust after taking long flights. One group flies east across time zones (California to New York). A second group flies west (New York to California). A third group takes a long flight within one time zone (San Diego to Seattle). At the end of the study, the researcher recorded how many days it took the subjects to adjust to the new zone. Gloria got the following results:



Westbound (NY to CA)

Eastbound (CA to NY)

North (San Diego – Seattle)




















D1. Is Gloria using an independent-measures research design or a repeated-measures research design? Explain your answer.

D2. Identify the independent variable and its levels.

D3. Identify the dependent variable and how it is measured.

D4. Perform the appropriate data analysis on the data above using an alpha level   α = .05




Conclusions presented in research findings are often based on the relative strength of correlations; they may also refer to regressions. Answer the following 5 questions (E1.-E5.) about correlations and regression.


E1.  What is the nature of correlation analysis?

E2. If the independent and the dependent variable are strongly correlated, does this correlation prove causality? Why or why not?

E3. Justify your answer to E2. with specific examples.

E4. Can you construct causal models using regression analysis? Why or why not?

E5.  Justify your answer to E4 with specific examples.






Rosa contended that the older a person is, the more satisfied they are with the job that they have. She used the data in Table 1 to support her contention. William disagreed and argued that age in this data is spurious and that years on the job is the real factor. He reanalyzed RosaÂ’s data to generate Tables 2 & 3.


F1.  Based on the tables, who is correct? 

F2.  Explain and justify your answer both statistically and in your own words.


Table 1                                                                                      Age of Worker

                                Satisfaction Levels                                       Under 40      40 and Over

                                Highly satisfied                                                    32%                        15%

                                Moderately satisfied                                           23%                        20%

                                Low  level of satisfaction                                    45%                        65%

                                                                                                Total (n): 815                         937          Chi square: p=.001



Table 2 

LESS than 10 years on the job

                                                                                                                Age of Worker                      

                                Satisfaction Levels                                     Under 40      40 and Over

                                Highly satisfied                                                    15%                        13%

                                Moderately Satisfied                                           22%                        21%

                                Low level of satisfaction                                     63%                        66%

                                                                                                Total (n): 346                         556          Chi square: p=.25



Table 3 

MORE than or equal to 10 years on the job                   

                                                                                                                Age of Worker                      

                                Satisfaction Levels                                     Under 40        40 and Over

                                Highly satisfied                                                    44%                        20%

                                Moderately Satisfied                                           27%                        26%

                                Low level of satisfaction                                     29%                        54%

                                                                                                Total (n): 355                         180          Chi square: p=.0001







Section III. Design Issues in Methodology


Answer Only ONE of the following two questions (G. OR  H.)

answer all parts of the question you chose.



Questions G and H use a research article excerpt. As you read the excerpt, consider the following issues and address those that you feel may be important in completeing EITHER Question G (critique) OR Question H (revision): reliability, validity, generalizability, triangulation, sampling, operationalization of terms, connection between research design and statement of purpose, and connection of research to theory or previous work.  





Read the excerpted methods section below (from a journal article on a real research project). Then answer all 5 questions (G1.-G5.) below.


G1.  Identify and explain at least 3 important methodological strengths in the excerpt.

G2.  Identify and explain at least 3 important methodological weaknesses in the  excerpt.

G3.  Define “validity” and comment specifically on issues of validity in the excerpt.

G4.  Define “reliability” and comment specifically on issues of reliability in the excerpt.

G5.  Overall would you have faith in the findings of the research described  in the excerpt. EXPLAIN your answer.





Read the excerpted methods section below (from a journal article on a real research project). Then answer all 4 questions (H1.-H4.) below.


H1.  Revise the project: Describe how you would CHANGE the research design described in the excerpt  to improve it (be realistic).

H2.  EXPLAIN and defend each change you make.

H3.  Define “validity” and comment specifically on issues validity in the revised project.

H4.  Define “reliability” and comment specifically on issues of reliability in the revised project.