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Unit information: Educational Statistics in 2020/21

Unit name Educational Statistics
Unit code EDUC30035
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
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


Understanding how to use, present and analyse data, select the right statistical test, interpret the results correctly and communicate findings honestly and effectively are essential tools in social science, policy research and also in business and commerce.

The aim of this unit is to:

  • introduce students to the principles of statistical enquiry drawing on examples from social scientific research;
  • provide an introduction to the statistical software, SPSS.

Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. understand the most commonly used descriptive statistics and graphs in educational research;
  2. understand the most commonly used statistical tests in educational research;
  3. apply these procedures in SPSS, report and interpret the output correctly;
  4. select and justify the most appropriate procedures in different situations;
  5. read and engage with 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

Best J, 2012, Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians, and Activists (Updated edition). Ewing, NJ: University of California Press.

Dilnot A, Blastland M, 2008, The Tiger That Isn't: Seeing Through a World of Numbers (expanded edition). London: Profile Books.

Elliott J, Marsh C, 2008, Exploring Data: An Introduction to Data Analysis for Social Scientists. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Frankfort-Nachmias C, Leon-Guererro A, 2014, Social Statistics for a Diverse Society. London: Sage.

Hand DJ, 2008, Statistics: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Huff D, 1991, How to Lie with Statistics (new edition). London: Penguin.

Rogers S, 2013, Facts are Sacred. London: Faber & Faber