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Unit information: Introduction to Educational Inquiry in 2015/16

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Unit name Introduction to Educational Inquiry
Unit code EDUCM5000
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Jo Rose
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This core unit provides an introduction to the variety of methods used to conduct research in education. It engages students in the key debates surrounding educational research and its importance in developing educational policy and improving educational processes. The question of what constitutes good educational research is addressed and students will be encouraged to develop strategies to better understand and critique the immense variety of educational research reported in book and journals. In this course, students are introduced to the entire process of conducting educational research from the initial stages of thinking about research questions to designing a project, choosing particular methodologies and methods. Students are encouraged to look at this from a political and philosophical as well as educational perspective and also to consider and reflect on the key issues that educational researchers face, including how it is possible to ensure good ethical practice. Particular emphasis is placed on research designs for complex issues and processes.

The unit aims are to:

  • present the main philosophical and methodological positions within social science research with special reference to research in education
  • appreciate the importance of critically engaging with research literature
  • understand and engage with the process of research design and its conduct, including issues in data collection and analysis
  • be prepared to undertake an empirically-based dissertation
  • enrich their reading and understanding of research literature that they engage with in their other units on the programme.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of the unit students will be able to:

  • read critically and evaluate research-related documents, which have employed a range of research approaches and methods based on differing epistemologies
  • formulate a research question and an appropriate research design for a small scale project
  • critically engage with issues of ethics, validity, trustworthiness and reliability in relation to research
  • demonstrate the skills and confidence to conduct an independent research project
  • make decisions regarding their future learning needs, in particular in the area of data collection and analysis techniques (this is particularly important for those likely to be undertaking a dissertation).

Teaching Information

A combination of teaching strategies will be used, which may include whole group lectures, visiting speakers, case studies, critical analysis of key readings, group discussions, and student presentations.

Contact Hours

20 hours

Assessment Information

Summative assessment:

Summative assessment for the unit will be on the basis of a 4,000 word assignment which will assess students' critical understanding of the literature, and their ability to apply the concepts and theories explored to their own research practice. Formative feedback will be given on group presentations.

Reading and References

  • Briggs, A.R., Coleman, M. and Morrison, M. (eds) (2012) (Third Edition) Research Methods in Educational Leadership and Management. London: Sage.
  • Clough, P. & Nutbrown, C. (2012) (Third Edition) A Students Guide to Methodology. London: Sage.
  • Denscombe, M. (2014) (Fifth Edition) The Good Research Guide: for small-scale social research projects, Maidenhead: Open University Press.
  • Punch, K.F. (2014) (Third Edition) Introduction to Social Research: quantitative and qualitative approaches. London: Sage.
  • Ritchie, J., Lewis, J., McNaughton Nicholls, C. and Ormston, R. (2014) (Second Edition) Qualitative Research Practice: a guide for social science students and researchers, London: Sage.
  • Creswell, J.W. and Plano Clark, V.L. (2011) Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research. London: Sage.