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PRST 5300/6300/7300 Syllabus

Course Syllabus

PRST 5300/6300/7300 - Research Methods

3 Credit Hours

Course Information

Course Description:

The study and application of research methods appropriate to professional studies. The course will provide a general introduction to research methods, as well as providing practical exposure to problem statements, Literature Reviews, Writing the Research Proposal, and Organization of the Research Report. Quantitative and Qualitative Research methodologies will be briefly covered in preparation for the later courses in these areas.

Course Outcomes:

The primary objective of this course is to present the basic concepts and strategies in research which transcend the boundaries of specific academic areas. These basic concepts include obtaining data, analysis of data, and interpretation of data and statement of conclusions. This course will guide students from problem selection to completed research report with practical suggestions based on a solid theoretical framework and sound pedagogical devices. Students will come to understand that research needs planning and design, and they will discover how their own research projects can be executed effectively and professionally. From this basic beginning, specific requirements of academic disciplines can be added in later courses

Prerequisites & Co-requisites:

Admission to the Master of Professional Studies program.

Course Topics:


1. What Is Research?

2. Tools of Research.


3. The Problem: The Heart of the Research Process.

4. Review of the Related Literature.

5. Planning Your Research Project.

6. Writing the Research Proposal.


7. Qualitative Research.

8. Historical Research. 


9. Descriptive Research.

10. Experimental and Ex Post Facto Designs.

11. Statistical Techniques for Analyzing Quantitative Data.


12. Technical Details: Style, Format, and Organization of the Research Report.

Specific Course Requirements:

The student must be knowledgeable in the use of the microcomputer, a Word Processing package, the Internet, and related browsers such as Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that their service provider is capable of allowing adequate connection time to complete assignments.

Application of theory is an important aspect of any research course. The appendix of the text book describes the use of SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences). Students should have access to a statistical package to perform the data analysis within their projects.

Each chapter (approximately one per week) will have readings, an assignment, and a practice quiz. There will be 4 major exams (over 3 chapters each) after chapters 3, 6, 9, and 12. Additionally, there will be a final "mini project" which will be completed throughout the course. Learning and skills from each chapter is to be applied immediately to the mini project. See additional instructions on this project in the course materials.

Textbooks, Supplementary Materials, Hardware and Software Requirements

Required Textbooks:

Please visit the Virtual Bookstore to obtain textbook information for this course. Move your cursor over the "Books" link in the navigation bar and select "Textbooks & Course Materials." Select your Program, Term, Department, and Course; then select "Submit."

Supplementary Materials:
Hardware and Software Requirements:

Minimum hardware requirements can be found here.

Minimum software requirements can be found here.

Common applications you might need:

Web Resources:

Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab (for APA, MLA, or Chicago style)

The Writing Center Online Writer's Handbook

Student Resources:
  • Technical support information can be found on the TN eCampus Help Desk page.
  • Smarthinking virtual tutoring is available FREE of charge. to access Smarthinking, visit the course homepage and select Smarthinking under Course Resources. You also view sample sessions to see what Smarthinking offers and how it works.
  • Information on other student issues or concerns can be located on the TN eCampus Student Resources page.

Instructor Information

Please see "Instructor Information" in the Getting Started Module for instructor contact information, virtual office hours, and other communication information. You can expect to receive a response from the instructor within 24-48 hours unless notified of extenuating circumstances.

Participation, Assessments, & Grading

Testing Procedures:

All exams will be given online via D2L. Check the calendar for exam dates and related information. All online exams and quizzes are timed and will only be available at specific times. If a student is unable to take an exam at the scheduled time, the instructor must be notified of the fact no later than 48 hours PRIOR to the scheduled exam time for a makeup to be scheduled. Failure to notify the instructor no less than 48 hours prior to the exam being given will result in no makeup being allowed and a grade of 0 being given for that quiz or exam.

Grading Procedures:

Grades for this course will be determined by adequate completion of all required exams, research papers, the required voice-annotated Powerpoint presentation, the final project, and class participation in the various discussion forums. The exact percentage of each deliverable will be included in the instructor addendum

Grading Scale:

90 - 100 ---A

80 - 89 ---B

70 - 79 ---C

60 - 69 ---D (The grade of 'D' may not be available at all universities)

Below 70 - F

Assignments and Projects:

Each student must choose a topic from their own interests to be a research topic for this class. The student is to apply each chapter's learning to their own research topic during the practical applications.

Class Participation:

Interactivity is an important part of this course. In order to insure interactivity, students will be required to participate in discussion forums as posted by the instructor. Students are also expected to maintain communications with the instructor via D2L email.

Late Policy:

Course Ground Rules

The following two statements (1., 2.) were derived from the TBR System-wide Student Rules document, released January 2012:


Read the document in its entirety here.

1. Standards of Conduct:

  • Students are required to adhere to the same professional, legal and ethical standards of conduct online as on campus. In addition, students should conform to generally accepted standards of "netiquette" while sending e-mail, posting comments to the discussion board, and while participating in other means of communicating online. Specifically, students should refrain from inappropriate and/or offensive language, comments and actions.

2. Review the TN eCampus Academic Integrity/Academic Honesty Policy:

  • In their academic activities, students are expected to maintain high standards of honesty and integrity. Academic dishonesty is prohibited.

Such conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • an attempt by one or more students to use unauthorized information in the taking of an exam
  • to submit as one's own work, themes, reports, drawings, laboratory notes, computer programs, or other products prepared by another person,
  • or to knowingly assist another student in obtaining or using unauthorized materials.

Plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty are prohibited.

Students guilty of academic misconduct, either directly or indirectly through participation or assistance, are subject to disciplinary action through the regular procedures of the student’s home institution.  Refer to the student handbook provided by your home institution to review the student conduct policy.

In addition to other possible disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed, the instructor has the authority to assign an "F" or zero for an activity or to assign an "F" for the course.

Other Course Rules:

Students are expected to:

  • Participate in all aspects of the course
  • Communicate with other students
  • Learn how to navigate in Brightspace
  • Keep abreast of course announcements
  • Use the assigned course management (Brightspace) email address rather than a personal email address
  • Address technical problems immediately:
  • Observe course netiquette at all times.

Guidelines for Communications


  • Always include a subject line.
  • Remember without facial expressions some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your emails. Use of emoticons might be helpful in some cases.
  • Use standard fonts.
  • Do not send large attachments without permission.
  • Special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, html, etc. should be avoided unless necessary to complete an assignment or other communication.
  • Respect the privacy of other class members


  • Review the discussion threads thoroughly before entering the discussion. Be a lurker then a discussant.
  • Try to maintain threads by using the "Reply" button rather starting a new topic.
  • Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group. Be respectful of other’s ideas.
  • Be patient and read the comments of other group members thoroughly before entering your remarks.
  • Be cooperative with group leaders in completing assigned tasks.
  • Be positive and constructive in group discussions.
  • Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner.


The Tennessee Virtual Library is available to all students enrolled in TN eCampus programs and courses. Links to library materials (such as electronic journals, databases, interlibrary loans, digital reserves, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and librarian support) and Internet resources needed by learners to complete online assignments and as background reading will be included within the course modules. To access the Virtual Library, go to the course homepage and select the Virtual Library link under Course Resources.

Students with Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable and necessary academic accommodations if determined eligible by the appropriate disability services staff at their home institution. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student's eligibility for specific accommodations from the disability services staff at the home institution. It is the student's responsibility to initiate contact with their home institution's disability services staff and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Syllabus Changes

The instructor reserves the right to make changes as necessary to this syllabus. If changes are necessitated during the term of the course, the instructor will immediately notify students of such changes both by individual email communication and posting both notification and nature of change(s) on the course bulletin board.


The information contained in this syllabus is for general information purposes only. While we endeavor to keep this information up-to-date and accurate, there may be some discrepancies between this syllabus and the one found in your online course. The syllabus of record is the one found in your online course. Please make sure you read the syllabus in your course at the beginning of the semester. Questions regarding course content should be directed to your instructor.

Last Revised on April 28, 2017