SYST 563 - Fall 2004


Course Description: Research Methods in Systems Engineering and Information Technology


Instructor: Dr. Leonard Adelman

            Office: S&T II, Room #325; Phone # 703-993‑1624

            Office Hours: Thursdays, 6:30 ‑ 7:10 (or by appointment)

            E‑Mail Address:



Cherulnik, P.D. Methods for Behavioral Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2001.


Prerequisite: STAT 344 and 354 or equivalent or permission of instructor.


This course provides the foundation for an important activity in systems engineering: information gathering to support drawing conclusions about how easy a system is to use and how well it meets users’ needs. More generally, the course focuses on how to perform behavioral research. The course begins by developing an understanding of the scientific process, the use of empirical evidence to support and refute scientific hypotheses, and the use of scientific information in decision making. The course emphasizes the design of controlled experiments, but also covers the design of other sources of evidence, such as quasi-experiments, case studies, and surveys. The process of formulating testable hypotheses is discussed, as are different measurement methods, including approaches to measuring soft, hard to quantify factors.


There is a mid‑term exam, a final exam, and a student project. I use the full grading scale, including pluses and minuses. Each of the two exams is worth 30% of your grade; the student project is worth 20%. The exams will be based on questions that I handout in class. The questions will cover material presented in the text and class. The exams are closed-book and closed-notes. I will tell you which questions have the highest probability of being on the exams during the review period. I will not review written answers to questions prior to the exams. So, please use the review period to make sure you know the answers to questions that might be on the exams.  Laptops can not be used to take the exams. 


Since I will use a seminar format, class participation is critical to its successful implementation. Therefore, I will grade class participation after each class session. Please notify me if you are not able to attend class. You are permitted to miss 2 classes, with notification. After that, you will receive an “F” for a missed class session. Class participation is worth 20% of your grade.


The student project gives you an opportunity to apply what you have learned in class to test a research hypothesis of your choosing. You may use material from work or other classes. Just make sure that I can clearly see how you effectively applied what you have learned in this class to test your hypothesis. The result of the project will be a 20-minute presentation (with viewgraphs) on the last two days of class. Students who present on December 2nd will receive 2 additional points which, for example, could be the difference between a B+ and an A-.



Week  1  (9/2)       Introduction to Course (Cherulnik, Chapter 1)


Week  2  (9/9)       Formulating the Research Hypothesis (Cherulnik, Chapter 2)


Week  3  (9/17)     Defining and Measuring Variables (Cherulnik, Chapter 3)


Week  4  (9/23)     Construct Validity (Cherulnik, Chapter 4)


Week  5  (9/30)     Internal & External Validity (Cherulnik, Ch. 5) & Review for Midterm Exam


Week  6  (10/7)     Midterm Exam


Week  7 (10/14)    Review Midterm Exam & Research Design (Cherulnik, Chapter 6)


Week  8 (10/21)    Evaluating Research Designs (Cherulnik, Chapter 7)


Week  9 (10/28)    Building Models of Multiple Causes & Effects (Cherulnik, Chapter 8)


Week 10 (11/4)     Collecting the Data (Cherulnik, Chapter 9)


Week 11 (11/11)   Analyzing the Data (Cherulnik, Chapter 10)


Week 12 (11/18)   Preparation for Student Presentations or Guest Lecture


Week 13 (11/25)   No Class: Thanksgiving Day Holiday


Week 14 (12/2)     Student Presentations


Week 15 (12/9)     Student Presentations & Review for Final Exam


Week 16 (12/16)   Final Exam (only on material after the midterm exam)