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Unit information: Research Methods and ICT in 2015/16

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Unit name Research Methods and ICT
Unit code EDUCM5805
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Olivero
Open unit status Not open




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


In this unit students engage critically with the processes involved in researching ICT in education. Students are introduced to the various components of the research process (e.g. identifying a research area within ICT in educational settings, focusing upon a question/hypothesis, developing a sound and ethical methodology, selecting appropriate methods of data collection and analysis, and drawing evidence-based conclusions) as well undertaking small-scale research themselves. Within this unit, an overview of the philosophies underpinning the dominant methods of data collection and analysis, and the differing views of social reality they give rise to, will be studied in relation to new technologies and the social world in general. New technologies are rapidly becoming an integral element of research - both as an object of a researcher's interest and as a tool used by the researcher. This unit introduces students to the methodological and theoretical questions raised by researching on and also with technologies.


  • to introduce the main philosophical and methodological positions used within social science research with special reference to research on ICT;
  • to provide students with the tools to assess and make judgements about the strengths and limitations of research on ICT, the appropriateness of the techniques employed and how these relate to research coherence, quality, rigour and value;
  • to facilitate students’ understanding of the research process, including the use of ICT within the research process;
  • to interrogate the ethical issues involved in conducting research on and with ICT;
  • to enable students to conduct research small-scale research in educational contexts.

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of this unit, students will be able to:

  • demonstrate understanding about the design and rationale for research on the use of ICT in educational settings;
  • demonstrate an ability to follow an appropriate research process when investigating the use of ICT in educational settings;
  • demonstrate an understanding of key concepts associated with the research process, such as reliability/specificity and validity;
  • demonstrate an understanding of relevant ethical issues in the design, execution and interpretation of research on ICT;
  • demonstrate an awareness and understanding of how new technologies can be appropriately applied in the research process.

Teaching details

The course will be taught face-to-face, but will be supported by a virtual online learning environment. All students will be required to use the VLE as standard, to communicate with fellow students, with the lecturing staff, to obtain administrative details about the course, to access course materials and, in some instances, for submission of coursework. Students will be encouraged to work in groups to support collaborative learning and to provide user feedback on design ideas. The principle teaching and learning methods will include the following:

  • Lectures: to present the main concepts of the syllabus.
  • Tutorials and workshops: to reinforce ideas and encourage understanding through individual and group work
  • Case studies: to ground the work within the professional context and provide real life examples
  • Engagement with online resources: to reiterate face-to-face activities, to supplement and support, to provide revision or associated materials and resources, and to offer extension activities and links to further sector-specific information.

Assessment Details

The assignment will arise from an account (4000 words or equivalent) in which students critically reflect upon research methodology in the context of one or more particular research question(s) or hypothesis/hypotheses. For example, students may be asked to:

A)develop and evaluate their own methodology for small-scale research project in their chosen area of interest involving the use of ICT in an educational setting


B)compare methodologies used by different researchers when approaching a particular area of interest to the student, that involves the use of ICT in educational settings. Within their chosen context, students will be required to demonstrate their understanding of concepts covered in the unit such as reliability/specificity, ethics and validity.

Reading and References

Bogdan, R & Biklen, S (2002) Qualitative Research for Education, Boston: Allyn& Bacon (4th Edn.)

Burton, D. (Ed.) (2000) Research training for social scientists: a handbook for postgraduate researchers. London: Sage.

Greene, S. and Hogan, D. (2005) Researching Children's Experience: Approaches and Methods, London: Sage

Hewson, C. , Yule, P., Laurent, D. and Vogel, V. (2002) Internet Research Methods, London: Sage

Mackay, H., Maples, W., Reynolds, P. (2001) Investigating the Information Society, Routledge and OU: London.

Somekh, B (Ed) and Lewin, C. (2004) Research Methods in the Social Sciences, London: Sage