Discussion Questions

  1. Discuss how sampling theory assists in the process of social work research. Why, in your opinion, are sampling methods used in most studies? Explain in detail.

  2. Discuss the purpose and the use of sampling frames in social work research. Describe how a sampling frame is different from the sample in which it was drawn.

  3. Discuss the issue of generalizability in social work research. Do you believe samples drawn from populations are really representative of the populations from which they were drawn? Why or why not?

  4. Discuss the differences between probability and nonprobability sampling. What are their comparative advantages and disadvantages? Justify your answer by using the points as outlined in the chapter.

  5. List and discuss the different types of probability sampling procedures.

  6. Discuss the procedure of generating a random sample.

  7. List and briefly discuss the different types of nonprobability sampling procedures.

  8. Discuss how sampling errors vary with the size of the sample.

  9. List and discuss the various forms of nonsampling errors.

  10. What suggestions can you provide to minimize nonsampling errors?

  11. Suppose you wanted the students in your class to participate in a research study. In groups of four, discuss what random sampling procedures could be used. Decide on a sampling procedure, discuss how you would collect the data, and explain your decisions to the class. How does your study compare with those of the other groups? Discuss the problems associated with random sampling and possible solutions to the problems.

  12. Suppose you design a research project that concerns all of the students of your university. In groups of four, decide on a sample size and discuss how you could use the four nonprobability sampling methods. Discuss the potential problems and possible solutions to the problems.

  13. At your university library, locate a social work-related research study that used a probability sampling procedure. Answer the following five questions: (a) What sampling procedure was used? (b) From what general population was the sample drawn? (c) Do you believe that the sample was representative of the population from which it was drawn? Why or why not? (d) What other sampling procedure could have been used? What would be the implications if this sampling method were used? (e) What changes could you suggest that would make the study more rigorous in terms of sampling procedures and/or controlling for nonsampling errors? Discuss in detail.

  14. At your university library, locate a social work-related research study that used a nonprobability sampling procedure. Answer the following three questions: (a) What sampling procedure was used? (b) Could the author have used a different nonprobability sampling procedure? If so, which one? (c) In your opinion, does probability sampling or do nonprobability sampling procedures produce a more rigorous study? Justify your answer.

  15. To answer the five following discussion questions (16-20) you must first print from the Internet and then read the following research study.
    Lindberg, L. D., Boggess, S., & Williams, S. (2000). Multiple threats: The co-occurrence of teen health risk behaviors. Retrieved July 1, 2004, from
  16. What is the population for this research study?

  17. What sampling technique was used to draw the sample? How representative of the population is the sample? To whom can the results of this research study be generalized?

  18. If you were a school social worker in a middle or high school, and were interested in conducting a similar research study, what type of sampling would you choose? Justify your choice. Would you be better off to conduct a census rather than a sample?

  19. Could you use a nonprobability sample to answer the same research question? What would be the benefits and limitations of a nonprobability sampling approach?

  20. Discuss the concepts of homogeneity and diversity with regard to the research study’s sample and youth health risk and protective behaviors?

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