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Unit information: Conducting Educational Research: Theory, Methodology and Methods in 2017/18

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Unit name Conducting Educational Research: Theory, Methodology and Methods
Unit code EDUCD0002
Credit points 40
Level of study D/8
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Thomas
Open unit status Not open
Pre-requisites

Understanding Educational Research

Co-requisites

None

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

Description

The unit is aimed at anyone with an interest in developing a robust theoretical and methodological approach to systematically researching an aspect of education, including educational leadership and management, teaching and learning, policy and evaluation.

Building upon the content of Understanding Educational Research, the course will be developed in three parts to provide a link between the objectives for research and approaches to their investigation. It connects social theories of the world with design decisions and a range of methods for undertaking research. In Part 1 the question of knowledge in context is introduced, situating scientific knowledges in relation to realism and other knowledges and practices. In Part 2 we develop an understanding of methodology and the design and comparative approaches and analysis decisions that flow from particular theoretical approaches and paradigms. In Part 3 we introduce a range of data collection methods that might be considered, including: questionnaire design; interviewing; systematic and video observation; participant observation; documentary evidence; secondary datasets. An introduction to a range of forms of analysis will also be covered, such as: discourse analysis, data modelling and statistical inference; grounded theorising; and comparative and textual, video and documentary analysis. Examples of research which illustrate the link between theory, methodology and methods will be drawn from current and recent research projects undertaken within the Graduate School, and from a range of other organisational settings. The strengths and weaknesses of particular pieces of research will be assessed. Web-based and other resources to inform and guide the selection and use of research methods will be highlighted (eg ESRC NCRM).

Unit aims:

  • Build on student learning in UER and further develop participants understanding of key theoretical and paradigmatic approaches to research in education and what this means for thinking about questions of truth, evidence, and generalisation.
  • Develop an understanding of the link between the paradigmatic and theoretical perspectives underpinning a research issue and the design decisions that might follow.
  • Develop participants’ understanding of key issues and skills in relation to data collection, contexts and sampling and analysis, with particular reference to research concerned with educational leadership and management, teaching and learning, policy and evaluation.
  • Emphasise to participants the importance of matching choice of research methods to the requirements implied by specific research questions and highlight where to find resources to support the use of different research methods.
  • Explore the strengths and limitations of a range of data collection methods and techniques of analysis, as well as the reliability and validity of different approaches.

Intended learning outcomes

Participants will be able to demonstrate:

  • an awareness and good understanding of the key theoretical and paradigmatic approaches to research in education and how these will create different demands on the question of truth, evidence, and generalisation.
  • an understanding of the capacity to design a research study that links theoretical perspectives underpinning a research issue with rigorous design decisions that might follow.
  • a good understanding of key issues and enhanced skills in relation to qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis, context specificity and sampling, with particular reference to research concerned with educational leadership and management, teaching and learning, policy and evaluation.
  • the importance of matching choice of research methods to the requirements implied by specific research questions and highlight where to find resources to support the use of different research methods.
  • an understanding of the strengths and limitations of a range of data collection methods and techniques of analysis, as well as the reliability and validity of different approaches.

Teaching details

A combination of seminars, tasks, practicals, student presentations to equate to 40 hours in total taught in block/s.

Assessment Details

Summative assessment:

An 8000 word assignment outlining a research proposal which links together theory, methodology and methods (alternatively two equivalent assignments may also be permissible if total length for both does not exceed 8,000 words). Typically, students will be asked to design a mixed methods study that enables them to demonstrate a high level of understanding of how to bring together and utilise both qualitative and quantitative methods in creative and sophisticated ways.

Formative assessment:

Formative assessment will be provided in the form of detailed feedback on drafts and discussion of student presentations on research proposals.

Reading and References

  • Crotty, M. (1998) The Foundations of Social Research, London: Sage.
  • Bogden, R and Biklen, S. (2006) Qualitative Research for Education, 5th edition, Boston: Allyn & Bacon
  • Punch, K.F. (2013) Introduction to Social Research: Quantitative and qualitative approaches, 3rd edition London: Sage
  • Tacq J (1997) Multivariate analysis techniques in social science research: from problem to analysis. London: Sage.
  • Briggs, ARJ, Coleman, M & Morrison M (Eds) (2012) Research Methods in Educational Leadership and Management. Sage.
  • Somekh, B & Lewin, C (Eds) (2011) Research methods in the social sciences, 2nd edition. Sage.

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