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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Moray House School of Education and Sport : Research (EDU)

Postgraduate Course: Designing Educational Research (REDU11073)

Course Outline
SchoolMoray House School of Education and Sport CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
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 (John Ravenscroft)
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.
Sessions 2 and 3: Experimental and quasi-experimental design (Sarah McGeown)
The goal of experimental design is to establish a causal relation between a "treatment" or intervention (e.g. new teaching method or new educational policy) and an outcome of interest. Randomized experiments are frequently considered as the "gold standard" for inferring causal effects. However, randomization is not always possible and when it is not possible we may need to rely on quasi-experimental designs for assessing whether a treatment is effective or not. These two sessions will introduce different forms of experimental and quasi-experimental designs, the challenges of collecting these types of data and the types of analyses associated with these designs using examples drawn from the psychological and social science literature.

Session 4: Cross-sectional and longitudinal designs: surveys (Cristina Iannelli)
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 5: Qualitative research designs: Interpretative Research (Jane Brown)
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.

Sessions 6 and 7: Case-study design (Lorna Hamilton)
Case study design is used to study single cases in a detailed and intensive way. In contrast to other research designs (such as cross-sectional designs), case studies are more concerned with revealing the unique features and the complexities of the case under examination than with making generalisation. These sessions will discuss the principles and practice of case study research and will identify the key elements for designing and conducting high quality case studies.

Session 8: Cross-country comparative design (Ellen Boeren)
In this session we will focus on the importance of conducting comparative research in education. We will examine the use of cross-country comparative research as (1) a framework for global competition by putting peer-pressure on countries versus (2) a framework for conducting self-evaluation of a single country comparing itself to others. The importance of existing datasets collected by major ¿agencies¿, such as Eurostat and the OECD, and issues of primary collection of comparative data will be discussed. We will focus on aspects to be taken into account in designing a comparative research study: e.g. by discussing Osborn's (2004) article on comparative research in education which focuses on the need for reflection on conceptual, measurement, linguistic and sampling issues.

Session 9: Mixed-methods approach (tutor TBC)
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 10: Student presentations

In this session students will present their research proposal, in particular the rationale for the choices made in regard to research design and data collection/access methods. What are the benefits of the particular design chosen over others? And what are its potential limitations?
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
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
At the end of the course, students should be able to:

- understand the key principles of research design
- analyse the pros and cons of using various research designs
- evaluate the robustness of the design used in published research and
- choose and justify a suitable design to apply in their own research and to explain the rationale for their choice.
Reading List
Indicative readings

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.

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
Course URL!/fileManager/DesigningEducResearch-CourseOutline.pdf
Graduate Attributes and Skills be ready to ask key questions and exercise rational enquiry

be able to critically assess existing understanding and the limitations of their
own knowledge and recognise the need to regularly challenge all knowledge

be able to flexibly transfer their knowledge, learning, skills and abilities fromone context to another
Additional Class Delivery Information There are in total 10 sessions of 2.5 hours.

Each session consists of staff presentation, discussion, group work and on occasion student presentation
KeywordsResearch Design Methods Methodology Education
Course organiserDr Ellen Boeren
Tel: (0131 6)51 6233
Course secretaryMs Mairi Ross
Tel: (0131 6)51 6433
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