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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Moray House School of Education : Education

Postgraduate Course: Designing Educational Research (EDUA11386)

Course Outline
SchoolMoray House School of Education CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThe course aims to provide an introduction to some of the most commonly used research designs in education. It includes an overview of (1) the importance of a robust research design to address specific research questions, (2) the principles on which good research designs are based and (3) the strengths and limitations of various research designs. The course will enable students to evaluate the soundness of the research design used in published educational research and understand and interpret the main arguments for employing different designs.
Course description Session 1
What is Research Design? Specification of the Research Problem and Research Objectives
The specification of research questions (i.e. what is to be studied) and research design (i.e. how to conduct the study) is an extremely important part of any research project. But where do we start from? And how do we go about finding the right research design for our study? This session will introduce the process of designing a research project and will discuss the different research purposes associated with different research designs. Ethical issues in research design will also be briefly discussed.

Session 2
Examples of Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Designs: Surveys
Cross-sectional and longitudinal designs are most typically associated with survey data collection methods (e.g. structured interviews and questionnaires). However these types of design can be used in association with qualitative research methods (covered in the next session). In this session we will focus on surveys, in particular on issues of sampling, measurements and methods of data collection. We will cover the use of secondary data in research and discuss issues of primary data collection. Moreover, strengths and limitations of using these types of design will be discussed.

Session 3
Examples of Qualitative Research Designs: Interpretative Research.
This session will consider contrasting positions within qualitative research designs, including theory driven research, as well as more inductive approaches. The broad focus however will be to highlight critical stages in the process of undertaking qualitative research. This will include justifications for selecting particular methods, formulating questions for interviews and focus groups and strategies for the analysis of data. On-going attention will be given to the importance of research ethics and the way in which ethical issues can arise over the course of the research enterprise.

Session 4
Examples of Mixed-Methods Designs
A mixed methods research design is a procedure for collecting, analysing, and "mixing" both quantitative and qualitative research in a single study to better understand a research problem. This design is implemented when the use of one type of research (qualitative or quantitative) is not considered satisfactory to address the research problem or answer the research questions. This session will examine various ways in which quantitative and qualitative research can be combined: sequentially e.g. 1) follow-up a quantitative study qualitatively to obtain more detailed information or 2) explore an issue qualitatively then develop a quantitative instrument, or concomitantly, i.e. when both methods are used in parallel. It will also discuss the challenges of combining different paradigms, of interpreting and reporting results derived from data collected with different types of research instruments.

Session 5
Examples of Desk Based Research Designs
The last session of Designing Educational Research will be used to focus on discussing examples of desk based research in education. Students will be guided through a range of desk based research designs, including systematic reviews, historical research as well as philosophical research in education. This session demonstrates students the value of engaging with non-empirical research and will both strengths and limitations of desk based approaches will be discussed.

Teaching will usually be spread over 5 weeks and will consist of 5 blocks of 2.5 contact hours per week. Each session might start with an introductory powerpoint presentation. The majority of the time of the contact sessions will be used to engage in critical reflections on selected materials, group work and discussions.

Study activity Time commitment (in hours)
Face-to-face teaching-learning activities 12.5
Pre-course reading and preparation 30
Feedback/feedforward 2.5
Collecting and consulting other materials 15
Preparation and writing assignment 40
Total 100h

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 98 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) One 2,000-word written assignment detailing and justifying the research design the student intends to use for examining a research topic of their choice.
The marking will be equally shared between the course tutors. To guarantee consistency of marking, the course convenor will moderate the marking by selecting a sample of the written assignments marked by each tutor. The final written assignments will be marked using the same standardised assessment form used for the other courses which has been created in adherence to the University Postgraduate Marking Criteria. Tutors will meet in advance to discuss the application of these criteria within the context of the course.
Feedback Students will receive written feedback on their research proposal which will help them in further developing their dissertation research.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. understand the key principles of research design
  2. analyse the pros and cons of using various research designs
  3. evaluate the robustness of the design used in published research
  4. choose and justify a suitable design to apply in their own research
  5. to explain the rationale for their choice.
Reading List
Bechhofer, F. and Paterson, L. (2000) Principle of Research Design in the Social Sciences. London: Routledge.

Bray, M., Adamson, B. & Mason, M. (eds.) (2007) Comparative Education Research: Approaches and Methods. Hong Kong: Comparative Education Research Centre, The University of Hong Kong, and Dordrecht : Springer.

Creswell, J. (2013) Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design (3rd edition). London: Sage.

Creswell, J. (2012) Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4th ed.).Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Christensen, L. B. (2006) Experimental Methodology (10th edition). Allyn & Bacon

De Vaus, D. (2001) Research Design in Social Research. London: Sage

Edmonds, W. A., & Kennedy, T. D. (2012) An Applied Reference Guide to Research Designs: Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed Methods London: Sage.

Gorard, S (2013) Research Design: Creating Robust Approaches for the Social Sciences. London: Sage

Hamilton, L. and Corbett-Whittier, C. (2013) Using Case Study in Educational Research

Osborn, M. (2004) New Methodologies for Comparative Research? Establishing ¿Constants¿ and ¿Contexts¿ In Educational Experience Oxford Review of Education, 30(2), 265-285.

Petticrew, M. & Roberts, H. (2005) Systematic Reviews in the Social Sciences: a Practical Guide. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Ragin, C. (1987) The Comparative Method: Moving Beyond Qualitative and Quantitative Strategies. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Seale, C. (ed) (2004) Researching Society and Culture (2nd Edition) London: Sage.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Keywordsresearch design,education,qualitative research,quantitative research,mixed methods research
Course organiserDr Ellen Boeren
Tel: (0131 6)51 6233
Course secretaryMr Ben Hibberd
Tel: (0131 6)51 4241
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