Professor Thanh Tran has released a new edition of his important pocket guide on research methods entitled Developing Cross-Cultural Measurement in Social Work Research and Evaluation. First published in 2009, this updated version offers new perspectives on current methodologies in the field and changes in the populations most served by social workers, while also providing novel statistical techniques not presented in the first book. The Second Edition brings in the voices of BCSSW alumnus Keith T. Chan, now an assistant professor at SUNY Albany, and Tam Nguyen, assistant professor at the Connell School of Nursing.
“When it comes to cross-cultural issues, as a profession, we are behind others,” explains Tran. “I’m hopeful that this book can provide a first step – practical guidelines for students and academic researchers alike. Within the context of the United States, social workers rarely deal with one particular group of clients. We are a diverse nation, and our research measurements need to better reflect this diversity.”
Tran’s book addresses this challenge by introducing an overview of issues and techniques relevant to developing cross-cultural measures under the auspices of cultural anthropology, comparative sociology, cross-cultural political science research, and cross-cultural psychology. It then provides a practical, step-by-step approach to assessing the efficacy of potential measurements, such as Item Response Theory, to be used under a cross-cultural paradigm.
- Involve the communities being studied throughout the projects
- Use multi-method approaches, especially taking care to understand the nuances between translations in survey instruments
- Consider gender/sex differences in the populations being studied, and varying cultural understandings of gender/sex
“Finding differences is easy,” says Tran. “The real challenge is searching for commonalities between peoples we may assume to be very different. This work is difficult, but also, incredibly useful. The key is to find similar assessments that take this diversity into account, while providing baseline measurements that allow for productive research and intervention development.”