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Unit information: Core Skills in Educational Research in 2014/15

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Unit name Core Skills in Educational Research
Unit code EDUCM5501
Credit points 0
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Sue Timmis
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit is designed to ensure that students about to embark upon a research degree have acquired the core skills necessary to access information from the library, and the web; particularly the electronic sources that are available. Students will also be assessed as to their level in word processing and use of e-mail etc. and provided with suitable workshops to enhance these skills. More cognitive generic skills such as critical thinking, originality, particularly as applied to reading and reviewing the literature. All these aspects will be addressed within the general context of starting out on a research programme with the need to turn ideas into researchable questions.


The aims of the unit are:

  • To introduce ways of managing a PhD research-based project
  • To support participants to adopt a critical and analytical basis for the judgement the quality of the research literature
  • To afford training opportunities in computer applications to support PhD studies.

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of the unit students will be able to demonstrate:

  • Procedures to effectively manage a research project
  • An ability to critically evaluate the research literature
  • Use of computer aided information services

Teaching Information

A variety of teaching methods will be employed and include:

  • Lecture/demonstrations by course tutors
  • Group discussions
  • Practical laboratory sessions
  • Guided reading
  • Question and answer seminars

Assessment Information

There will formative assessment throughout the practical laboratory classes, centred around a critical evaluation of an appropriate, published journal article of an empirical study in the area the student proposes to pursue. The following framework will guide this evaluation:

  • Understanding of the theoretical issues underlying the study
  • Creation of a coherent set of criteria against which to judge the value and quality of the work, including;
    • Relationship/relevance of the study to theory
    • Design of the investigation
    • Research tools and methods employed
  • The quality of the arguments
  • Overall coherence of the paper

Reading and References

Blaxter, L, Hughes, C and Tight, M (2001) How to Research (2nd Ed.), Buckingham: Open University Press

Cryer, P (2000) Research Students’ Guide to Success (2nd Ed.), Buckingham: Open University Press

Locke, LF, Silverman, SJ and Spirduso, WW (1998) Reading and Understanding Research, London; Sage

Wisker, G (2001) The Postgraduate Research Handbook: Succeed with your MA, M.Phil, Ed.D and Ph.D, Palgrave Study Guides; MacMillan

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