Section 1: Science, Constructs, and Definitions

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In its most general sense, science is merely a way of knowing.  More specifically, it is an empirical approach to knowledge. The empirical approach is based on observation.  The basic idea of empirical knowledge is nothing new to us; we use it every day when we make observations about the world around us.  These “everyday observations” are not quite up to the standards of science. The reason for this is that everyday observations can result misleading generalizations.  That is, we reach incorrect conclusions about how the world works. Our focus will be on the social sciences.  

Social science is the science of people or groups of people, such as social groups, governmental organizations, societies and their individual and collective behaviors.  Social sciences can be classified into disciplines such as psychology (the science of human behaviors), sociology (the science of social groups), and economics (the science of institutions, markets, and economies).  We also include the “helping professions,” such as social work and criminal justice. The jargon used may vary from discipline to discipline, but the essence of the social scientific endeavor remains the same.

Section 1 SLOs

After completing Module 1, students will be able to:

  1. Identify the principles of social science, distinguish between informal observations and structured empirical research methods, and recognize biases and overgeneralizations in social science research.
  2. Explain the role and significance of theories and models in social sciences, differentiate them from other forms of knowledge such as religious or metaphysical explanations, and apply this understanding in formulating research problems, hypotheses, and objectives.
  3. Summarize the importance of identifying relationships in social science research, including mastering the methods for observing and identifying variable relationships, and recognize the role and limitations of experimental and control groups in research designs.
  4. Articulate the importance of precision in scientific communication, understand the development and application of models in social science, and appreciate the role of labeling, theoretical definitions, and operational definitions in enhancing research clarity and effectiveness.
  5. Examine the ethical principles in social research, including the differences between ethics and morals, the responsibility to ensure participant safety, the role of Institutional Review Boards (IRBs), and the importance of transparency and honesty in the pursuit of scientific truth.
Modification History

File Created:  07/24/2018

Last Modified:  11/14/2023

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