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Unit information: Introduction to Quantitative Research Methods in the Social Sciences (GSoE) in 2020/21

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Unit name Introduction to Quantitative Research Methods in the Social Sciences (GSoE)
Unit code EDUCM0003
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Browne
Open unit status Not open




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


This unit introduces the most commonly used statistical procedures used in educational research. No previous experience of statistics is required.

The unit aims:

  • To introduce the most commonly used methods of descriptive statistics in educational research;
  • To introduce commonly used procedures, in educational research, for comparing groups and measuring association (independent and paired samples t-tests, non-parametric tests of difference, correlation coefficients and chi-square tests)
  • To introduce procedures for selecting the most appropriate technique in relation to the research questions and data collected
  • To be able to carry out appropriate statistical procedures in the SPSS software and report them accurately
  • To effectively interpret statistical results obtained in relation to the original research questions posed
  • To develop students’ critical understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of a range of quantitative methods as applied in the research literature.

Intended learning outcomes

Students will be able to demonstrate that they can:

  • Select from the statistical methods covered in the unit and justify their use in a given situation
  • Generate descriptive statistics and conduct statistical tests in SPSS, and appropriately report and interpret the output
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of aspects of the quantitative research approaches used in the social sciences

Teaching details

This unit will be taught using a blended approach consisting of a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous activities including lectures, computer practicals using SPSS software, and critical reading and discussion of published quantitative articles

Assessment Details

Formative assessment: Regular worksheets will be provided in which students attempt a statistical analysis task. Annotated answers to the original worksheet will then be provided for students, allowing them to check their progress.

Summative assessment:

Part 1 (50%). Students will be provided with a selection of prepared datasets and/or statistical outputs. In a structured assignment with a number of sections, students will be required to identify the appropriate method for statistical analysis for a given research question and dataset, conduct that analysis in an appropriate software package, select the relevant parts of the statistical output, present them effectively, and interpret the findings (2,000 words). ILOS 1-3. Part 2 (50%). A critical essay evaluating a piece of published quantitative research in social science (2,000 words). ILO 3

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
  • Salkind, N.J. (2013). Statistics for People Who (Think They) Hate Statistics (5th edition). Sage.