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Unit information: Interpreting Educational Data in 2018/19

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Unit name Interpreting Educational Data
Unit code EDUC20009
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Gemma Moss
Open unit status Not open

Researching Education in the City or Research Methods and Statistics in Psychology in Education (Part 1)



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


This unit will examine how researchers make sense of educational data, paying attention to the many different kinds of data it is possible to collect in the education field, the varied contexts from which they arise, and the diverse research questions and purposes they are intended to answer. The range of data to be considered may include: interview, observational, documentary, visual, multisensory and digital that represent educational processes in different ways; and secondary data, routinely produced within the education field, which can be analysed using quantitative or qualitative approaches.

Students will have opportunities to hear from practising researchers about how and why they chose to work with data in particular forms. They will explore a range of qualitative and quantitative approaches that can be used to analyse data in meaningful ways, such as discourse analysis, multimodal analysis, and quantitative secondary data analysis. They will have opportunities to focus in depth on a particular analytic approach and assess its value in interpreting a selection of data.

The aims of the unit are to:

  • introduce students to a range of data analysis methods in the social sciences, and their fitness for purpose in exploring different educational questions;
  • provide students with the tools to be able to make informed choices about how to analyse their data in meaningful ways;
  • enable students to apply and critically appraise a chosen data analysis method, or set of methods, as they interpret a selection of educational data.

Intended learning outcomes

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

  • recognise how educational data in different forms can be meaningfully analysed;
  • make informed choices about when to apply a specific analytic approach to educational data;
  • assess the strengths and weaknesses of a particular approach in the context of a particular study.

Teaching details

Classes will involve a combination of lectures, class discussion, investigative activities, debates and group presentations. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis.

Assessment Details

Formative assessment:

a) ILO 2&3: A group presentation documenting the process of collecting and analysing a selection of data;

b) ILO 1-3: Analysis of a sample of data (1000 words)

Summative Assessment:

ILO 1-3: A 3000 word reflective assignment in which students analyse a selection of data, justifying its choice and the analytic approach adopted. (100%)

Reading and References

Bloor, M. and Bloor, T. (2007) The Practice of Critical Discourse Analysis: An Introduction. Abingdon: Routledge.

Gee, J. (2014) (2nd Edition) How to do Discourse Analysis: A Toolkit. Abingdon: Routledge.

Gilbert, N. and Stoneman, P. (2015) Researching Social Life. London: Sage. Part IV.

Jewitt, C., Bezemer, J., and O'Halloran, K. (2016) Introducing Multimodality. London: Taylor and Francis.

Ritchie, J., Spencer, L., and O’Connor, W. (2006) Carrying out Qualitative Analysis. In J. Ritchie and J. Lewis (eds) Qualitative Research Practice: A Guide for Social Science Students and Researchers, London: Sage.

Smith, E. (2008) Using Secondary Data in Educational and Social Research. Maidenhood: McGraw-Hill.