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Quantitative Methods

image29.gifThis resource has drawn together a selection of materials on quantitative research that could be helpful to educational researchers at different stages of their careers. The resource was produced as part of the ESRC Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP)'s commitment to research capacity building. TLRP itself has now developed a more comprehensive suite of resources on research approaches designed to help develop researcher expertise. However, it was felt that the different way this set of resources was put together may still be of interest to those who want an insight into educational research methods rather than a more comprehensive set of resources. The intention is to illustrate a range of quantiative methods in use in educational research.

The 'Longitudinal Data Analysis for Social Science Researchers' project, funded under the ESRC Researcher Development Initiative, produces a range of resources: for example, Paul Lambert (2006) has produced The British Household Panel Survey: Introduction to a longitudinal data resource [Working Paper 2 of ‘Longitudinal Data Analysis for Social Science Researchers’, ESRC Researcher Development Initiative training programme]. The paper is intended to familiarise social scientists with the BHPS survey resource, to introduce the main practical issues as they are typically experienced by researchers new to the survey, and to provide some brief examples of analyses using the BHPS over a range of its data resources.

The Centre for Multilevel Modelling has a range of resources on Multilevel Modelling made available as part of an ESRC funded initiative whose aims include " ... the development of statistical models for the analysis of hierarchically structured data, training in the use of such models, and the provision of appropriate software."

Steph Gray (2003) of MORI raises interesting questions around the implications for researchers of mixing quantitative survey methodologies: Is It Safe To Combine Methodologies In Survey Research?. Given different groups use different communication modes, one common approach is to use different modes of research for different audiences, combining the results from telephone, face-to-face, or self-completion postal/online questionnaires among the different survey populations. But what are the implications of combining different modes of research on the validity of the data that is gathered? How comparable are telephone and online surveys, and can the results of one ever be reliably combined with the other?

King's College London have produced quantitative materials that use a series of datasets (from questionnaire-based research, from experimental work, etc) and take the learner through the analysis of this material using SPSS (the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences): see Quantitative research methods and SPSS by Peter Skehan.

TLRP showcase:
The use of large scale data-sets in educational research

TLRP researchers Kirstine Hansen and Anna Vignoles have provided a guide to the use of large-scale data sets: Widening Participation in Higher Education: A Quantitative Analysis.

British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) data analysis

Paul Lambe's guide to BHPS data analysis looks at the way panel data (longitudinal data or cross-sectional time series data) is used in educational research.

Survey design and analysis

Alan Felstead and colleagues (2004) Surveying the scene: learning metaphors, survey design and the workplace context discuss the results of a survey of 1,943 employees carried out in February 2004.