1. What is the purpose or hypothesis of this research?
The goal of the study conducted by Falco and Martin in 2012 was to understand how students who may potentially work in the criminal justice system see the use and application of punishment should be. In other words, do these potential criminal justice employees believed that punishment should be used more or less? The importance of knowing this, according to the authors, is that such perception can impact on how they see offenders and how or up to what extent the latter should be punished.
2. What was the MAIN independent variable and how was it operationalized?
The main independent variable that was included in this study is education. Although there are other independent variables, education is the primary variable in this particular study because it is the most significant variable to the objective of the study, which was to evaluate the attitude of students who may potentially work within the criminal justice system after completing education. Since this was the goal of the study, it was, therefore, important to distinguish whether those who were enrolled in criminology courses viewed punishment rigidly or loosely.
The independent variable of education was operationalized by including questions that sought to measure the class status of a participant to the study, such as the year in school – for example, whether that student was a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior. More importantly, education was operationalized by asking participants the undergraduate course they were enrolled in by simply indicating whether they were criminology major or not.
3. What was the dependent variable and how was it operationalized?
The dependent variable in the study was punitiveness. By the term ‘punitiveness’ the authors meant the general attitude of a participant towards punishment and whether it should or should not engage in retribution, incapacitation and the absence of rehabilitation. The authors operationalized the dependent variable of ‘punitiveness’ by using a scale of punitiveness ranging from 1 to 15. The scale presumably included questions ranging from the use of the harshest punishment to the least use of punishment. Participants were made to choose between varying degrees of agreement or disagreement. Each indicated answer had corresponding scores and the total score for a participant served as his or her total punitiveness score. Higher scores indicated higher punitiveness and lower scores the opposite.
4. Explain the type of data gathering instrument used in this research? How was it administered?
The data gathering instrument used in the Falco & Martin research was in the form of surveys and questionnaires. Surveys and questionnaires were used to gather data from students in courses that were randomly selected for the study. First, the consent and approval of the teacher of the classes selected were obtained for the purpose of conducting the survey and distributing the questionnaires to students of those classes. However, students who attended other classes that were also randomly selected for participation in the study were told not to participate in the study in the other classes. Students under 18 years old were also disqualified for the survey. All in all, 10 criminology classes and 8 non-criminology classes were randomly selected for the study. The questionnaires were handed to 600 students, but 18 students submitted the questionnaires without completing them or totally withdrew from participation even before it started. In addition, another 11 students withdrew from participation after the survey started.
5. Describe the sample – in other words, who was surveyed?
6. Was this a probability or non-probability sample? How do you know? In other words, what element(s) makes it one or the other?
The study used a probability sampling method and the evidence for this was the randomization strategy used by the researchers to select the classes whose students will participate in the study. First, the researchers identified the boundaries of the study by limiting participants to students enrolled in criminology classes and liberal studies in one university. Despite this, the researchers were still able to randomly select participants from out of all those classes within the boundaries through a random numbers table generated by the stratified sample and classes. This strategy embodied the cluster random sampling type of probability sampling.
7. What did the researchers find? Did they find support for their hypothesis?
The researchers validated earlier studies that suggested that criminology students are less rigid in their views of punishment and are less supportive of punitiveness than students from other majors. They found support for their hypothesis.
8. Do you agree with the findings from this study? Why or why not?
Yes, I agree with the findings of the study. For one, there were other studies that suggested similar findings. Second, from a practical point of view, criminology students indeed spend a lot of their time studying the various theories of criminology and as a result, gain a wider view of why criminals offend.
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1. What is the purpose or hypothesis of this research?
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