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Unit information: Researching Educational Questions in 2020/21

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Unit name Researching Educational Questions
Unit code EDUC10001
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Baker
Open unit status Not open




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


This unit introduces you to some of the key educational methods that spark debate in the field of education; in particular we are interested in asking questions of research methods that are concerned with social justice, transformation and the reproduction of inequality in and through educational research. We will consider how researchers in education set out to answer different questions, using a variety of research approaches. We will examine how particular traditions lead to different lines of enquiry founded on different ways of knowing. We will explore the advantages and disadvantages of choosing particular research approaches for different purposes. This process will help you to become a critical reader of education research and to appreciate how to assess the quality and rigour of individual research studies.

The aims of the unit are to enable students to:

  • understand how and why different traditions of enquiry within the field of education ask different questions and adopt different methods to answer them;
  • appreciate which key educational questions can be investigated through empirical research and which cannot;
  • develop a critical understanding of the types of methods used to collect, analyse and interpret data and the arguments that are advanced in this light;
  • appreciate what constitutes rigour in educational research and evaluation and consider how it can be defined in the context of individual studies;
  • appreciate the importance of conducting ethically-informed research in education settings.

Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. appreciate how educational issues and questions can be investigated from within particular disciplinary traditions;
  2. recognise the range of methods used to find answers to educational questions and some of their main advantages and disadvantages;
  3. critically appraise the choices researchers make when designing, conducting and reporting research.

Teaching details

This unit will consist of a range of teaching activities using a blended learning approach. This will involve a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous activities including seminars, lectures, readings and discussions. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis.

Assessment Details

Formative assessment will be a 1,000-word essay in which you will interpret and critique a research paper.

Summative assessment will be a 2,000 word essay focused on assessing the strengths and limitations of one qualitative and and one quantitative article on the same topic.

  • ILO 2 &3: 3 short writing tasks asking students to define and evaluate key concepts relating to qualitative and quantitative methodologies (30%);
  • ILO 1,2 &3: A critical review of a research study reflecting on the methods/methodology that informed the research findings and assessing the main contribution the research might make to knowledge, to policy or to practice (70%).

Reading and References

  • Bryman, A. (2016). Social Research Methods (5th Edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Matthews, B. and Ross, L. (2010). Research Methods: A practical guide for 'the social sciences. Essex: Pearson Education Limited.

Suggestions for recommended and further reading will be made separately through Blackboard