Education | Strategies for Educational Inquiry
Y520 | 5982 | Dr. Robert S. Michael
The course catalogue description for Y520: “Introductory course
intended to orient beginning graduate students to the conduct of
social science inquiry in general and educational inquiry in
particular and to acquaint them with key terms and generally accepted
procedures in qualitative and quantitative inquiry.”
Throughout your career you will encounter empirical research reports
that claim to describe a true state of affairs about some aspect of
reality. The report may (a) describe a phenomenon of interest to
educators, or (b) identify causal relationships between certain
outcomes of interest and antecedent conditions and/or characteristics.
In Y520 students learn to analyze and evaluate the adequacy of these
descriptive studies and claims of causation by focusing on the theory
and specific methods of empirical social science research used to
conduct inquiry about education related topics. No pre-requisites are
listed for this course. However, some statistical and quantitative
analytical techniques are, of necessity, used. Students should be able
to perform basic mathematical operations. See the math refresher in
the textbook appendix. Completion of an undergraduate course in
statistics is helpful, but not required.
The primary goals are to:
1. Learn to discriminate between good research and other (presumably,
2. Improve your ability to read, understand, interpret, evaluate and
use empirical research.
1. You should recognize that this reference does not conform to APA
standards for citing references. In what
way(s) is it incorrect?
3. Become familiar with the ideas and concepts underlying empirical,
4. Appreciate the role of judgment when drawing inferences from data
5. Gain experience as a member of a research team that collects data,
1. Become familiar with the major research designs and control
techniques and how to apply them.
2. Learn how to discriminate among and interpret commonly used
statistical tests, and to select the
appropriate statistical tests for a given research problem.
3. Become familiar with the major theoretical and philosophical
approaches to research in education.
4. Improve your analytical and writing skills.
This is a traditional, face-to-face, classroom-based course that
includes lectures, classroom discussions, occasional guest lecturers,
assigned readings, homework, tests, and group interactions.
• Required Readings. Most topics have one or more required readings,
either a textbook chapter or journal article(s). By the end of the
course you will have read most chapters of the text. Other required
and suggested readings will be added to the web page as we progress
throughout the semester. Instructor written questions are provided for
some of the required readings.
• Suggested Readings. Sometimes required readings appear (a)
impenetrable, (b) too simplistic, or (c) fluff. Some of the required
readingmay provoke one of these reactions from you and if so, turn to
the suggested readings for similar materials by different authors.
• Critiques. Students will critique two empirical research articles.
This provides opportunity for students to demonstrate their mastery of
analytical and/or writing skills.
• Homework. Rather than handing out homework problems in class,
students will access the problems via the web. The number of homework
assignments varies each semester, and this semester, will be limited
primarily to statistical problems.
Course Requirements and Grading
Grades will be determined by performance on
• critiques of two empirical research articles (10 pts each),
• homework assignments (10 pts total),
• group research project (40 pts total)2, and
• final multiple choice, true/false, short answer, matching test (30
Letter grades will be assigned as follows:3
• A = 100— 90
• B = 89—80
• C= 79—70
• D= 69—60
• F<= 59
2. Introduction & Literature Review (5 pts), Statement of Problem &
Research Question (5 pts), Methods Section
(15 pts), Data Analysis & Findings (10 pts), Conclusion (5 pts).
3. See Indiana University, School of Education Graduate Program,
Bulletin 2001-2003, pages 16-17 for interpretation
of grades and additional details concerning grades.
Students are responsible for their individual preparation and
participation. Students are expected to read articles prior to the
class period for which the pages are listed and be prepared to
Preparation consists of reading the assigned material (and
note-taking) and completing assignments prior to the class period for
which they are listed. (The first week of class is the only
Participation is defined as contributing relevant comments to group
and class discussions (i.e., answering questions posed either by other
students or the instructor — and withholding irrelevant comments),
working on individual and group assignments, engaging in constructive
criticism, assisting other class members, and demonstrating solutions
Critiques may be formal, written products that demonstrate a thorough
understanding of an assigned research report— and its limitations.
Other critiques require you to complete an “article critique form,”
which, in effect, encourages a similar degree of analysis.
Homework exercises are opportunities for you to demonstrate your
understanding of certain concepts and mastery of data analytic
The group research project requires a group of individuals to
collaborate on the development of a research report. The following
steps indicate the scope of the project:
• Submit topic and hypothesis for instructor approval before
undertaking subsequent steps.
• Conduct library research (literature review). Summarize and
synthesize articles, pointing out the logical connections to your
• Collect data —first hand data collection. Members of the group might
observe, for example, the incidence of “attention-seeking” behavior in
a kindergarten classroom and teacher/other student responses; or
develop a questionnaire to measure attitudes towards school choice; or
observe the activities in a campus student services unit; or conduct
a content analysis of documents; or develop a unique method of
measuring a phenomenon related to education. This short list is not
• Analyze data. Analysis of the data your group collects is
essential.We will look for the appropriateness of the techniques
• Summarize results. What did you find? Does it confirm or fail to
confirm your hypothesis?
• Formulate conclusions. This is the “so what?” portion.What is the
significance of your findings? What do your results suggest? You
should also indicate an awareness of the limitations of your study
—and be aware that every study has limitations.
Initially each group member receives the same grade as all other
members of the group. Each member of the group rates, anonymously, the
contribution of each of the other group members. Hence, it is in each
individual’s best interest to participate fully and encourage other
group members to do likewise, because an individual’s final grade on
the project can be reduced in the (unlikely) event their contribution
is less than that of other group members. Instructors may also render
a judgment about the participation level of group members. The content
of the report will be graded according to the guidelines in “Grading
of written assignments.”
Members of each group will present their results to the class on
December 10. Class members will offer comments on the content and
presentation of the project.
Grading of written assignments
The grade is based on organization and completeness of the document;
quality and originality of ideas; use of proper grammar, spelling, and
syntax; ability to choose the relevant concepts or techniques and
apply them correctly; and proper citation of the literature.
Written assignments should be in courier 11 or 12 points, double
spaced, and follow the conventional rules of grammar, punctuation,
spelling, and notation of references. Use the PublicationManual of
the American Psychological Association as your style guide. Be sure to
use the margins and type size as specified. Always keep a copy of your
written assignments for yourself. Assignments turned in late will
lose points. For critiques, you will lose 2 points for each day late.
Group projects will lose 5 points for each day they are late.
Please note that all University policies regarding cheating and
plagiarismwill be strictly followed. Cheating and plagiarism are
subject to grade lowering and/or other sanctions. This also applies to
the preparation of research papers and projects. You may not submit
simultaneously a research or term paper for credit in more than one
class. Additionally, all papers must be your own (or your group’s)
original work. You may not use reproductions, work completed by
someone else, or purchased work.
Additional instructions for the group project and due dates for
components of the project are forthcoming.
4. The University policy is located at
http://campuslife.indiana.edu/Code/Part_3all.html. See Part 3: Section
Table 1. Schedule (Note: Minor changes in topics and pages may occur
throughout the semester)
Date Topics Readings
1 Sep 3 Introduction to educational research: Sources of knowledge.
What is inquiry? What is empirical research? Scientific method.
Research content and quality. Selecting a research topic. Literature
G & A 3-22
G & A 39-70
Additional readings on web site
2 Sep 10 Developing a research plan: Writing a hypothesis. Theory,
variables,hypotheses. Ethics in research. Sampling
G & A 77 - 97
G & A 101 - 118
Additional readings on web site
3 Sep 17 Measurement. Measuring variables. Reliability & validity.
(Critique 1 due)
G & A 123 - 153
4 Sep 24 Designs for description (Pre-experimental & qualitative
approaches). Content analysis
G & A 163 - 221
Additional readings on web site
5 Oct 1 Qualitative data analysis & action research G & A 227 - 256
6 Oct 8 Designs for description ( Survey & correlational) (Critique 2
G & A 277 - 323
7 Oct 15 Causal-comparative designs G & A 337 - 343
8 Oct 22 Intro to experimental & single subject designs.
9 Oct 29 Experimental & single subject designs G & A 355 - 408
10 Nov 5 Statistics: Descriptive G & A 409 - 439
11 Nov 12 (Homework 1 due) Descriptive statistics continues
12 Nov 19 Statistics: Inferential
(Group project due)
G & A 445 - 483
G & A 491 - 498
13 Nov 26 (course evaluation) (Homework 2 due) Inferential statisitics
14 Dec 3 Evaluating a research report G & A 507 - 515
15 Dec 10 Presentation of Group Research Projects
16 Dec 17 Final Exam