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Unit information: Educational Statistics in 2020/21

Unit name Educational Statistics
Unit code EDUC20013
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Wenham
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit will introduce the use of statistics in educational research. The focus is on giving students the hands-on practical skills to be able to analyse educational data using the most popular descriptive statistics, graphs and statistical tests. Students will learn how to apply the taught procedures in the SPSS statistical software throughout the unit. Emphasis will be placed on choosing the most appropriate procedures in different situations and in how to report results correctly and persuasively. We will concentrate on statistical tests for studying group differences (independent and paired samples t-tests), associations (correlation coefficients, cross-tabulations and chi-squared tests) and predictive relationships between pairs of variables (simple linear regression).

The unit aims to:

  • introduce the main descriptive statistics and graphs for summarising and presenting educational data;
  • introduce the most commonly used statistical tests for comparing groups and measuring association;
  • introduce the SPSS statistical software and show how it can be used to carry out the different taught procedures;
  • develop students’ ability to select the most appropriate procedures in relation to a given research question and dataset;
  • develop students’ ability to statistically critique published research.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. critically understand the most commonly used descriptive statistics and graphs in educational research;
  2. critically understand the most commonly used statistical tests in educational research;
  3. apply these procedures in SPSS, report and interpret the output selectively and correctly;
  4. select and justify the most appropriate procedures in different situations while reflecting on their limitations;
  5. statistically critique published research which use these procedures.

Teaching details

This unit will be taught using a blended approach consisting of a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous activities including lectures, seminars, investigative activities, SPSS practicals, reading and discussions. Students will be expected to engage with readings and SPSS activities on a regular basis.

Assessment Details

Formative assessment: Regular mathematical and statistical activities and computer practicals using SPSS, to practice the different taught procedures. Annotated answers will be provided to allow students to self-evaluate and peer-evaluate their progress.

Summative assessment:

ILOs 1-4: An assignment (2000 words). Students will be provided with an SPSS dataset and will be asked to address a research question. Students will be required to identify and conduct in SPSS appropriate descriptive statistics, graphs, and statistical tests to address this research question. Students will then have to explain their decisions, report their statistical output, interpret their findings, reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of their analyses, and suggest potential improvements. (70%)

ILO 5: A statistical critique (1,000 words) of the role of league tables, through comparing two institutions. (30%)

Reading and References

Field A. (2013) Discovering Statistics Using SPSS (4th Edition). London, Sage

Foster, L., Diamond, I. & Jeffries, J. (2014). Beginning Statistics: An Introduction for Social Scientists (2nd Edition). London, Sage

Marsh, Catherine & Elliott, Jane (2008). Exploring Data: An Introduction to Data Analysis for Social Scientists (2nd Edition). Cambridge, Polity Press

Rumsey, D. J. (2011). Statistics For Dummies (2nd Edition). Indiana, Wiley.