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Unit information: Educational Statistics in 2018/19

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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 Professor. Leckie
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

Teaching will involve a combination of lectures, SPSS practicals, and group and class discussions. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis.

Assessment Details

Formative assessment:

ILOs 1-4: Weekly computer practicals using SPSS to apply the different taught procedures on different educational datasets. Annotated answers will be provided to allow students to evaluate their progress.

ILO 5: Tutor led class discussion statistically critiquing journal articles which the students have read in advance.

Summative assessment:

ILOs 1-4: An assignment (2000 words). Students will be provided with several SPSS datasets and will be asked to address a different research question on each dataset. Students will be required to identify and conduct in SPSS appropriate descriptive statistics, graphs, and statistical tests to address each research question. Students will then have to report their statistical output following academic conventions, interpret their findings, reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of their analyses, and suggest potential improvements. (75%)

ILO 5: A statistical critique (1,000 words) of a published journal article. (25%)”

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.