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Research Methods for Psychology in Education I - EDU00097M

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  • Department: Education
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. David O'Reilly
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2021-22

Module aims

This module aims to develop students’ methodological knowledge, skills and understanding to a point where they will be equipped to identify their own research questions, find and critique the literature related to those questions, design an appropriate study to address them, gather quantitative and qualitative data and write reports of empirical investigations in APA style.  They will have been introduced to some basic statistical tests and analytical approaches. Students will have a clear understanding of the ethical issues involved in conducting psychological research and will be able to reflect on ethical issues in their own work.

  • To prepare students to read reports of educational and psychological research with critical analysis, understanding and insight, so they are able to assess the strengths and weaknesses of such research

  • To prepare students to consider the contexts and ethics of research in education and psychology

  • To develop knowledge and skills that are essential in a range of careers in education, psychology and in the social sciences more widely, including forming research questions, literature searching and reviewing, and quantitative and qualitative research design and data analysis.

  • To familiarise students with a full range of quantitative and qualitative analysis techniques in preparation to carry out independent research on topics in psychology in education.


Module learning outcomes

Subject content

By the end of this module students will be able to:

  • Find, read and critically analyse research reports and review papers.
  • Generate and explore hypotheses and research questions.
  • Conduct empirical studies and analyse, interpret and present results at a basic but accurate level.
  • Use a wide range of measures and understand their psychometric properties.
  • Explain the key attributes of a wide range of research designs including surveys, experimental designs, observational designs and case studies. 
  • Explain the key features of qualitative research and analysis.


Academic and graduate skills

Students will have learned how to: 

  • Use search tools such as PsycInfo for literature searching.
  • Develop and write detailed research proposals drawing on a range of appropriate research methods and data analysis techniques.
  • Apply for ethical approval for research.
  • Use SPSS to analyse quantitative data using basic statistical testing.
  • Interpret and report the results of basic analyses in correct APA style.
  • Analyse qualitative data using appropriate techniques e.g. thematic or content analysis. 

Module content

The module content is structured so that it incrementally builds up students’ knowledge of psychological research methods to the extent that they will be in a strong position to focus on statistical analysis and presentation of research in their core Spring term module – Research Methods for Psychology in Education 2. 


By the end of the autumn term students will have learned about:

  • Psychology as a Science and the scientific method
  • Research hypotheses
  • Operationalisation and measurement of psychological constructs
  • Common research designs and their limitations
  • Research ethics
  • Principles of good questionnaire design
  • The theory and principles of a range of descriptive statistics
  • Techniques, and rationale, for gathering and analysing qualitative data

They will have gained experience in:

  • Hypothesis development
  • Literature searching and academic referencing
  • Evaluating research designs
  • Preparing the documentation required for ethical approval
  • Designing a questionnaire and using it to collect data
  • Coding data, entering it into SPSS and conducting basic descriptive statistical analyses
  • Taking part in qualitative interviews as both interviewer and interviewee
  • Conducting and writing up a simple content analysis

Students will be taught in weekly online (asynchronous) lectures and either on-campus or online one-hour practicals. The following outline is representative of the lectures that will be given but is subject to small changes.

Students will also have access to weekly drop-in sessions (on-campus and online).


Week 1 -  Fundamental concepts in Research Methods


  • Psychology as a Science (including scientific goals and the scientific method)
  • Measuring people (constructs, operationalization, variables and levels of measurement)


  • What is a hypothesis?
  • Developing hypotheses about psychological and educational phenomena.

In addition to the regular sessions a compulsory literature searching and referencing workshop will be timetabled for Week 1 or 2, conducted by library staff with subject-specific expertise.

Week 2 – Introduction to Research Design


  • Introduction to research designs (including experimental designs, quasi-experimental designs, observational designs, surveys and case studies).


  • Practice designing an observational study to test a hypothesis.
  • Evaluating practical, theoretical and ethical issues associated with observational designs.

Week 3 - Confounding factors in research


  • Introduction to confounders including sampling bias, maturation, repeated testing effects, third factor, novelty effects, differential attrition and regression to the mean.


  • Identification of confounding factors in a range of studies, and ways to improve research designs.

Week 4 – Research Ethics


  • History of research ethics (including Belmont Report and Tuskegee Study)
  • Principles of ethical practice in psychological research (BPS Code of Ethics and Conduct).
  • Ethical issues to consider in conducting research with adult, child and animal participants.


  • Writing an ethics application for a hypothetical study.
  • Writing a participant information sheet and consent form.

Week 5 – Questionnaire Design


  • Stages of questionnaire design (e.g. formulating research question; identifying population and sample; developing questionnaire with due consideration of item wording, questionnaire formatting (including response scale), mode of administration and analysis; piloting and administration.
  • Introduction to reliability and validity.


  • Design a short descriptive questionnaire that gathers data on two psychological constructs plus relevant demographic information (including one grouping variable) and one free response item suitable for thematic analysis.

Formative Assessment 1:  Finalise questionnaire and submit by Monday of Week 6.

Week 6 – Descriptive Statistics 1


  • Measures of central-tendency
  • Measures of spread
  • Distributions


  • Introduction to SPSS.
  • Calculating basic descriptive statistics (e.g. Mean, Standard Deviation, Frequencies)
  • Visualising distributions
  • Reporting results correctly in APA style.

Week 7 – Descriptive Statistics 2


  • Standardized scores and how to calculate them in SPSS.
  • Effect sizes and how to calculate them.
  • Power analysis


  • Calculating z-scores, effect sizes and power and reporting results in APA style.
  • Collecting questionnaire data from classmates.

Week 8 - Correlation


  • Bivariate correlations
  • Scatterplots
  • Factors influencing correlations


  • Computing correlations in SPSS.
  • Interpreting correlations and scatterplots and reporting results in APA style.
  • Coding and entering questionnaire data.

Week 9 – Qualitative Designs and Data Collection


  • Observation
  • Interviews
  • Transcription
  • Inter-rater reliability
  • Bias in qualitative research


  • Practice as interviewer and interviewee.
  • Identifying themes and codes in interview data.
  • Checking inter-rater reliability.
  • Evaluating practical, theoretical and ethical issues associated with qualitative designs.

Week 10 – Analysing Qualitative Data


  • Thematic analysis
  • Content analysis


  • Content analysis of a document or set of comments.


Task Length % of module mark
Analyse questionnaire data
N/A 75
Report - content analysis
N/A 25

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Reassessment will be by component on this module. It is possible for you to fail one or both of the components but still pass the module overall due to your weighted average and/ or the application of compensation. In this instance, you would not need to be reassessed to obtain the credits for the module. Please note that reassessment is only available for components failed at first attempt.


Task Length % of module mark
Analyse questionnaire data
N/A 75
Report - content analysis
N/A 25

Module feedback

The formative assessment will be submitted by Monday of Week 6 and returned to students, with written feedback, by Friday of Week 6. 

Verbal feedback will be provided on all informal formative tasks conducted during practical sessions e.g. writing up findings in APA style.  A weekly drop-in session (on-campus and online) will also be organised for students who feel they need additional advice, support or feedback.

For summative assessments, individual written feedback reports will be provided, with follow-up tutor meeting if necessary. The feedback is returned to students in line with university policy. Please check the Guide to Assessment, Standards, Marking and Feedback for more information.



Indicative reading

Publication manual of the American psychological association. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2001.

British Psychological Society. (2006). Code of ethics and conduct. BPS.

Coolican, H. (2014). Research methods and statistics in psychology. Psychology Press.

Field, A. (2009). Discovering statistics using SPSS. Sage publications.

Sanders, L.D. (2010). Discovering Research Methods in Psychology. BPS Blackwell.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.