LER 513: Research Methods
Lecture: Tuesday, 4 pm to 7 pm, 216 Willard
Professor: Helen Liu
E-mail: XUL16@psu.edu (preferred)
Phone: (814) 865-5560
Office: 122A Willard Building
Office Hours: Thursday 2:30-4:30 pm and by appointment.
The purpose of this course is to develop your ability to use a range of methodologies to conduct
research on various processes and phenomena in the field of employment relations and human
resource management. We will seek to understand core concepts such as the scientific method,
literature search, the logic of hypothesis formulation and testing, measurement, and sampling.
We will also explore specific methodological approaches such as survey research, observation,
experiments and quasi-experiments.
Schwab, D. P. (2005). Research methods for organizational studies, 2nd Edition. Mahwah, NJ:
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers. A copy is reserved at 113 W Pattee Library.
ANGEL – Additional readings for the course are posted on ANGEL.
Team project 40%
Class participation 30%
1. Team Project. This project provides you with an opportunity to design a real-world research
project. The instructional goals of the project are to (1) allow you to apply the principles and
concepts of scientific methodologies covered in class and (2) improve your critical thinking,
writing, and teamwork skills. The class will be divided into approximately 5-6 teams. Over the
course of the semester, your team will proceed through the various stages of research process,
including choosing a topic, literature review, hypothesis development, research design, data
analysis and interpretation. Be prepared to discuss your progress on this project frequently
in class. At the end of the semester, each team will generate a final report that discusses how the
team proceeded through each stage of the process and also presents the details of the research
The paper should be 15-20 pages in length. Grading for the project will be partially based on
peer evaluation. The papers are due on April 27, 2010. Each student group will give a 25-min
presentation to the class at the end of the semester.
2. Exam. Two exams will be given in class to assess students’ knowledge and understanding of
the course material covered in class up to that point. These exams will be closed-book and will
consist of a combination of multiple choice items and/or short answer questions.
Early or make-up exams are allowed only in the most extreme cases and never without prior
arrangements. Please contact me at least 48 hours before the exam in order to be considered for
3. Participation. Students are expected to participate actively and regularly in class discussions.
Students should prepare to discuss each others’ project ideas and to contribute their thoughts and
feedback in a generous and vigorous manner. Moreover, each student is expected to lead at least
one case discussion. The discussion leaders will prepare a case and questions for discussion
relevant to the lecture topic. Please send required readings and questions by the Friday before
class, so I can post these on ANGEL. All students are responsible for preparing the answers to
the questions in class. In addition, it is important to discuss the application of the questions to
your group projects.
All university and college regulations concerning withdrawal and academic honesty will apply
(for more details: http://www.psu.edu/dept/oue/aappm/G-9.html). Students are expected to
recognize and uphold standards of intellectual and academic integrity. The university assumes as
a basic and minimum standard of conduct in academic matters that students be honest and that
they submit for credit only the products of their own efforts. Students should be familiar with
the university’s policy on issues such as plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, falsification, and
multiple submissions. Lack of knowledge of this policy is not an acceptable defense to any
charge of academic dishonesty.
Accommodations for Disabilities
The Penn State University is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which
reasonably accommodates qualified persons with disabilities. In order for me to create an
effective learning environment for everyone please let me know of any special challenges I need
Week Date Topic Reading
1 Jan-12 Course Overview Schwab Ch1
Case: Teen (un)employment
2 Jan-19 Ethics in Research Additional reading
Discussion leaders: Chris, Lisa, Sean, & Tim
3 Jan-26 Model of Empirical Research Schwab Ch2
Discussion leaders:Aleesha & Alyssa
4 Feb-02 Formalizing ideas into hypotheses Additional reading
problem statement and hypotheses
5 Feb-09 Measurement Foundations Schwab Ch3
Discussion leaders: Charlene, Keon, Krithika, & Sarah H.
6 Feb-16 Measurement Applications Schwab Ch4
Group Presentation: questionnaires
7 Feb-23 Research Design Foundations Schwab Ch5
Discussion leaders: Lindsey and Sarah F.
8 Mar-02 First Exam
9 Mar-09 Spring Break (No Class)
10 Mar-16 Design Applications: Schwab Ch7
Field Studies and Surveys
Discussion leaders: Elena, Jeanette, Michael, & Sandhya
11 Mar-23 Design Applications: Schwab Ch8
Experiments and Quasi-experiments
Group Presentation: research design
12 Mar-30 Data Management Schwab Ch8, 9 & 16
Group Presentation: data coding and entry
13 Apr-06 Data Analysis: Correlation and Regression Schwab Ch10-13
Discussion leader: Amy
14 Apr-13 Statistical Modeling: Mediation and Schwab Ch19
Discussion leader: Helen
(possible topic: high involvement systems)
15 Apr-20 Second Exam
16 Apr-27 Final Presentation
Written report due on 4pm Apr 27.
* The instructor reserves the right to change this syllabus and course schedule during the
semester as needed. The most current version of the syllabus will always be available via