# CRITIQUE OF RESEARCH FINDINGS REPORTED IN THE NEWS (Applicable SLOs A2, D3)

PART II:

1)      Identify the ‘variables’ that were used to calculate the statistic reported in the media report (For example, the variables in the statistic: “Nearly one in five atheist scientists with children involve their families with religious institutions, even if they personally do not agree with the institutions’ teachings” are religious beliefs (atheist or not) and involvement in religious institutions).

2)      Read the ‘methods’ section of the research study to determine how the study was conducted, paying particular attention to how the variables used to calculate the statistic were measured. Compare the findings reported by the popular media against the findings reported in academic journal.

What is due on 3/5:

Your final assignment should include each of the following statements/questions and their answers.  Do not write this assignment in ‘essay’ format. An example of this assignment will be provided on Blackboard.

1. Clearly state the statistic you will be examining.
2. Identify the news source (using ASA format).
3. Identify the academic source (using ASA format).

HINT: For items B & C, see examples of ASA reference format here: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/583/03/ or Google “ASA format examples”.

1. Explain in detail how the statistic was “measured.”

HINT: To discuss how a statistic is measured, you will be examining the academic journal article “methods” section. This is the most important part of this assignment. In explaining how a statistic was measured, you are describing the process the researchers went through to calculate this statistic, including who was included in the study, how the study was conducted, etc. Think about the following types of things to discuss how the statistic was ‘measured’: How did the authors define the variables? For instance, in the study about atheists and religious involvement, how did the author(s) determine that someone was an atheist? (Did they ask a question about whether or not they were an atheist, did they give respondents a list of religious beliefs to choose from, did they follow them around on Sunday to see if they went to church?)  How did the author(s) determine “involvement with religious institutions? (Does it mean going to a religious service at least one a year? Did they ask respondents their level of involvement in religious institutions?). Did the author(s) clearly describe how data for the reported statistic was gathered? As one example: Did the author(s) interview people?  If so how many, how did they recruit people to participate?  What questions did the author(s) ask?  What do you think of the questions?

1. What do you think of the way behaviors or attitudes were measured?

HINT: Here, you are critiquing the way the researchers conducted the study that is published in the academic journal. Again, refer to the “Methods” section of the research article. As an example, think about the way the researchers defined the variables used to calculate the statistic. Can you think of a better way to determine whether someone is an atheist? Can you think of a better way to determine “involvement with a religious institution”? Or, think about the questions they asked and the people they included in the study. Were they really measuring what they intended to measure?

1.  Was there any other crucial information that the news story left out or distorted about the reported statistic? If yes, explain what is missing.  If not, explain your answer

HINT: Here you are comparing the news story’s report of the statistic to the actual study. Now that you know how the study was conducted, is there anything about the way the news story reported that statistic that might be misleading or incorrect?

This assignment must be uploaded to Blackboard. Emailed assignments will not be accepted. Failure to follow instructions on this assignment will result in an automatic letter grade deduction Late assignments can only receive half credit, up to a week late. After that time, the assignment will not be accepted for credit.

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