Education | Special Education Research: Approaches and Issues
F401 | 9306 | Dr. Samuel Odom
Purpose of the Course
This course is designed to introduce future teachers to the basic
research designs and methods used in special education. Students will
learn to critically analyze the research literature and will have the
opportunity to design and conduct a small-scale research project.
After participating in this course, students will be able to:
1. Identify basic research designs and approaches to educational
2. Discuss substantive issues and methodological considerations for
conducting research in special education.
3. Describe the research process, including problem definition, review
of the extant research literature, study design, data collection and
analysis, and presentation of findings.
4. Define independent and dependent variable.
5. Describe threats to internal validity.
6. Describe threats to external validity.
7. Describe the essential elements of randomized experimental group
8. Describe the essential elements of quasi-experimental designs.
9. Describe the essential elements of correlational designs.
10.Describe the essential elements of single subject designs.
11.Describe the essential elements of qualitative research designs.
12.Describe the essential elements of action research.
13.Critically evaluate educational research studies to ascertain their
credibility and usefulness.
Martella, R. C., Nelson, R., Marchand-Martella, N.E. (1999). Research
methods: Learning to become a critical research consumer. Needham
Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Hegarty, S., & Evan, P. (Eds.). (1985). Research and evaluation
methods in special education: Quantitative and qualitative techniques
in case study work. Philadelphia, PA: NFER-Nelson.
Mertens, D. M., & McLaughlin, J. A. (1995). Research methods in
special education. Applied Social Research Methods Series, Vol. 37.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Rumrill, P. D., & Cook, B. G. (2001). Research in Special Education:
Designs, methods, and applications. Springfield, IL: Charles C.
Schedule of Topics
1. 9/3 Course Introduction: Why is Research Important for Teaching
2. 9/10 Educational Research: Critical Concepts, Issues, and the
Scientific Method; Selecting a Project Topic
Chapter 1 (pp. 3-13; 22-23)
Ch. 2 (pp. 35-58)
3. 9/17 Special Education Research: Substantive & Methodological
Considerations/Reviewing the Special Education Literature
Ch. 3 (pp. 63-71)
Ch. 4 (pp. 93-100; 102-107)
4. 9/24 Searching the Literature
(Class will be held in EDUCATION LIBRARY)
5. 10/1 Experimental Designs in Special Education
Ch. 5 (pp. 130-138; 144-151; 153-157) Abstracts Due
6. 10/8 Experimental Design Article Critique; Quiz
Article, pp. 158-168
7. 10/15 Correlational Research in Special Education
Ch. 7 (pp. 200-211) Project Topic
8. 10/22 Correlational Design Article Critique
Article, pp. 232-246
9. 10/29 Single-Subject Research Methods in Special Education
Ch. 10 (pp. 327-340)
Ch. 11 (pp. 364-367)
10. 11/5 Single-Subject Article Critique; Quiz
Article, pp. 351-357
11. 11/12 Qualitative Research Methods in Special Education
Ch. 8 (pp. 255-265; 273-276)
12. 11/19 Qualitative Article Critique
Article, pp. 302-321
11/28 No class - Thanksgiving Break
(Appointments available Nov. 25 and 26 for discussing individual
13. 12/3 Action Research in Special Education
Ch. 13 (pp. 525-538)
14. 12/10 Action Research Article Critique; Quiz
Article, pp. 544-550
12/17 Tuesday, December 17, 8:00-10:00 AM
(Projects may be turned in early)
Final Project Due
1. Research Project: Students will demonstrate understanding of key
concepts and issues in special education research by (1) conducting a
critical review of the research literature in an area of interest or
(2) conducting a small-scale research study. All project topics must
be selected in collaboration with the cooperating teacher at the
student's practicum site. Students will ask their teacher if there is
a specific instructional practice or strategy about which s/he would
like to learn more. Examples of instructional strategies include
cooperative learning to improve social skills, graphic representation
techniques to solve word problems, and shared storybook reading to
promote emergent literacy. Students may choose to complete one of the
two projects described below. Detailed project report requirements
will be provided in class. Projects are due December 17, 2002.
Option #1 - Critical Research Review: Students will summarize and
critique the research literature on an instructional practice. After
an instructional practice has been identified in collaboration with
the cooperating teacher, students will search the literature for
research about that practice. In a brief paper (5 pages), students
will describe the research evidence for the practice and provide a
critique of the research. The paper must contain at least 10
citations to the literature.
Option #2 - Small-Scale Research Project: Students will conduct a
small-scale research project in their practicum classroom. With the
teacher, students will identify a research question about a specific
instructional practice. They will clearly identify the dependent and
independent variables, unless a qualitative study is conducted.
Students will share their plan for the study with this course
instructor. They will search the literature for information about the
instructional practice about which they will conduct the study. After
conducting the study, students will write a brief report (5 pages)
describing their research project. The paper must contain at least 5
citations to the literature.
2. Abstracts: The week after the library research workshop, students
will turn in abstracts of three articles on a chosen topic. Abstracts
due on October 1.
3. Project Topics. Students will turn in descriptions of their
project on October 15.
4. Quizzes: Three quizzes are be planned for this semester. Quizzes
will be objective and relatively short (not requiring more than 10
minutes of class time). They will cover basic research concepts and
Group Experimental Design (Class 6), Correlational Research and Single
Subject Designs (Class 10), and Qualitative and Action Research (Class
14). Only the two highest quiz scores will be used in calculating the
student's final grade (i.e., the lowest grade will be dropped).
Missed quizzes may not be made up.
The instructor reserves the right to give unannounced quizzes if it
appears that students have come to class unprepared to discuss
assigned readings. Each unannounced quiz will be worth 10 points.
4. Attendance: Class attendance and participation is required.
Students will be awarded 2 points per day for attendance and
participation. To be eligible for these points, students must arrive
on time for class (defined by the instructor beginning the lecture or
beginning to record attendance). Course credit will be awarded for 12
of 13 class sessions, beginning with the second class session. This
will allow students to be excused from one session.
Points Awarded for Assignments
Attendance (12 X 2) 24
Description of Project Topic 10
Abstracts from Computer Search 5
Quizzes (25 X 2) 50
Research Project 60
Total Points 149
Points Required for Grades:
Grade/Percentage of Points/Points Required
A 100-93% 149-138
A- 92-90% 137-134
B+ 89-86% 133-128
B 85-83% 127-123
B- 82-80% 122-119
C+ 79-76% 118-113
C 75-73% 112-108
C- 72-70% 107-104
D+ 69-66% 103-98
D 65-63% 97-93
D- 62-60% 92-89
F Below 60% Below 89