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Unit information: Understanding Educational Research in 2017/18

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Unit name Understanding Educational Research
Unit code EDUCM5502
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Lucas
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit develops concepts and practices to enable participants to develop a reasoned evaluation of published educational research. The unit provides an overview of paradigmatic differences that operate in social science research and facilitates participants in considering the implications of these for understanding and evaluating research in their own field of interest. Particular attention will be paid to associated issues concerning the relationship between evaluation and educational values; research ethics; implications for research design and methodology; research quality criteria; and the intended applications and audiences of the research. Participants will critically engage with these issues by evaluating one or more published studies in their field of interest as group activities during the unit and as the basis for individually prepared assessed work.


  • To explore the issues and practices involved in evaluating research in education
  • To examine the paradigmatic influences in current educational research and the implications of these with associated issues for the reasoned evaluation of published research.
  • To undertake the evaluation of selected reports of research that relate to the participant’s field of interest.

Intended Learning Outcomes

After taking this unit, the student should:

  • be familiar with key issues in evaluating published research
  • be aware of current debates over the paradigmatic influences in social science and educational research and their implications for evaluation
  • be able to demonstrate the evaluation of a selected report of research an to support the evaluation with appropriately reasoned analysis

Teaching Information

The unit is taught intensively over three days. The course includes practical activities, reading tasks, discussion and opportunities to relate course material to participants’ own research ideas.

Assessment Information

Formative assessment tasks include the oral presentation of an evaluation of published research undertaken in groups of approximately four students to the whole class.

Summative assessment consists of a 4000 word evaluation of a student selected report of research concerned with evaluating research in the student’s area of interest.

Reading and References

  1. Benton, T and Craib, I (2001) Philosophy of Social Science: the Philosophical Foundations of Social Thought. Houndmills: Palgrave
  2. Brown, A and Dowling, P (1998) Doing Research/Reading Research, a Mode of Interrogation for Education. London: Falmer.
  3. Bryman, A (2004) Social Research Methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press
  4. Clough, P and Nutbrown, C (2002) A Student’s Guide to Methodology. London: Sage
  5. Punch. K. (1998) Introduction to Social Research: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches. London: Sage.
  6. Yates, L (2004) What Does Good Education Research Look Like? Situating a Field and its Practices. Maidenhead: Open University Press