(Last updated on June 12, 2019 .)

Summer, 2019

Lloyd Rieber, Instructor
lrieber@uga.edu
203 River's Crossing
706-542-3986

If you are a little overwhelmed by the detail of this syllabus, click here to go to a much abbreviated version for just the essentials.

Course Description

This course introduces you to key concepts, practices, and skills in the educational research process. This context is organized into two major areas:

    1. Learning the fundamentals of research: Identifying a research problem or question, exploring the literature, and learning about methods; and
    2. Exploring and applying the research: Reviewing and interpreting the literature to advance your understanding of a topic or issue in education; Proposing your own research question/s or development project need; and gaining some practical skills and experience with both quantitative and qualitative research methods.

We will explore different aspects of the research experience during the term as we focus on the overall research process. In the first half of the course, you will participate in Research Design Activities (RDAs) for you to learn how to critically examine real world research. You will also learn some fundamentals of statistics in a very friendly, low-stakes way. Two informal data collection activities are also planned. The first orients you to the systematic collection of data to better understand some personal topic of interest to you. The second gives you a little taste of what it's like to interview someone. A course project is also required, though participants can choose among several options.

The philosophical foundation of the course is that there is not one method for research, but rather techniques that work better for a particular situation. As such, we will discuss the research process in the larger context of problem-solving. The overall goal is not to become an expert researcher, but to become more of an expert in the research process and a critical consumer of educational research. A knowledge of the research process, working in concert with tools and skills determined necessary for a given framework in a particular context, will enable you to accomplish this goal.

This is an online class. The overwhelming majority of the class content and activities are delivered or completed using asynchronous (not in real time) technologies. The advantage of this approach is that you can complete the course whenever and wherever you wish, according to a schedule determined by the instructor or a faster one determined by you. We will also meet occasionally online in an online live meeting room called Zoom. The dates and times of these meetings can be found in the course schedule. The purpose of these online live meetings is not to deliver content, but to go over difficult concepts, enjoy some group interactions, and ask and answer questions. (If you are unable to attend any of the online live meetings, you will need to review the recording at your earliest convenience.)

Please note that this course syllabus is a general plan for the course; deviations announced to the class by the instructor may be necessary.

UGA Academic Honesty Policy

All academic work must meet the standards contained in "A Culture of Honesty." Students are responsible for informing themselves about those standards before performing any academic work.

Accommodations

This course follows the regulations outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Call UGA Disability Services at (706) 542-8719 (voice) or (706) 542-8778 (TDD only) for information about architectural access and to arrange for sign language interpreters, assistive listening devices, large print, audio, or Braille. Students requiring special accommodation should contact the instructor as soon as possible.

Other UGA Policy Statements

UGA students working in schools are considered "mandatory reporters" under state law. This means that you are required by law to report suspected child abuse (for instance, if a student tells you about abuse or you suspect it based on a student's physical appearance or behavior). If you suspect child abuse, you must report this immediately to the school principal/site director, your UGA instructor, the UGA Police at 706-542-2200, and the Department of Children and Family Services at 1-855-GACHILD.


Required Reading

Leedy, P. D., & Ormrod, J. E. (2015). Practical research: Planning and design (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Note: The 10th edition is also acceptable. The 12th edition of this book is the most recent, so feel free to purchase that edition instead. However, it is likely to be much more expensive. Used copies of the 11th and 10th editions will likely be readily available from online book sellers at a much lower cost, such as Amazon.

Additional readings may also be assigned during the semester to supplement the text.


Course Goal

Participants in the course will become strategic consumers and proficient users of educational research. Participants will read and critique a variety of educational research studies that use various methods (quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods), with the objective of being able to analyze and apply research to professional contexts.

Course Objectives

At the end of the course, each participant will be able to:


Things You Need to Already Know or Have

Technology

Other Things You'll Need


Course Procedures

This is an all-online course and all of the course material (or links to the material) and activities can be found at eLC at this web address:

http://elc.uga.edu

After logging in, participants then navigate to the course home page. Participants need to log into eLC every day to access all course materials and to check on updates.

This course is scheduled to meet from June 7-July 31. However, the course has been organized to end earlier with a target date of July 19. There are both synchronous and asynchronous aspects to this course. Most of the course work (e.g. readings, software learning, project work, journal writing) will be done asynchronously. However, we will meet occasionally in a "virtual" meeting room called Zoom. The purpose of these synchronous class meetings will be to discuss the design readings, resolve problems or confusion, and answer questions. The plan will be to meet online in the Zoom at 6:00 pm for 60-90 minutes (see the course calendar below for the specific days).

Each live class will be recorded, so if you are unable to attend a particular class it is your responsibility to view the recording. (But, please know it is not the same as "being there.") Communication among and between participants and the instructor is vital in any course, but particularly in an online course. The instructor will communicate individually with students using everyone's UGA email address. Everyone is required to check their UGA email account frequently. In addition, participants need to check their spam folder frequently as it is not uncommon for official email to be inadvertently tagged as spam. The only way to detect if this is happening is by manually checking one's UGA spam folder.

Course announcements will be made using the announcement tool in eLC. Starting about day 3 of the course, all important course announcements, notes, and reminders will be distributed solely through the eLC announcements tool. So, you will either have to check the announcements in eLC at least once a day, or have all announcements sent to you via email or through a text messaging service. Fortunately, this is very easy to do: After you log into eLC, click on the "notifications" option of your eLC account to set these preferences (look for your name in the upper right-hand corner of the eLC screen to access these options).


Course requirements/evaluation

Requirement

Percent of Final Grade

Due

Research Design Activities (RDAs)

20%

During first half of course

Statistics in Education for Mere Mortals Activities

10%
During first half of course

Informal Activity - Interviewing Practice

15%
July 8

Informal Activity - SDC - Systematic Data Collection

15%
July 15

Course Project

40%

July 19

 

Grading Scale

A 95-100%
A- 91-94%
B+ 87-90%
B 84-86%
B- 81-83%
C+ 77-80%
C 74-76%
C- 71-73%
D 61-70%
F Below 61%

 


Statistics in Education for Mere Mortals (SEMM) Excel Exercises

Purpose: To learn some fundamentals of using statistics in education.

 

A series of friendly, low-states activities are planned to give you an introduction to some of the fundamentals of statistics. I use the term "mere mortals" is because these activities are designed for people who aren't, and don't want to be, statisticians or mathematicians. Instead, they are designed for ordinary people with ordinary math skills who want to learn the fundamentals of statistics well enough to apply them in their work. As the title also suggests, we won't take ourselves too seriously as we complete them.

You will build a series of Excel files that compute each of the following statistics:

These Excel files build upon each other. You will build these by watching and following a series of video demonstrations of me showing how to build the file in a step-by-step manner.

When you are done building your spreadsheet, your answers should, of course, match those shown in the video. Then, Lloyd will send everyone a new set of data to enter – all you will need to do is copy and paste the new data into the spreadsheet you just built. You’ll then be asked to submit some of the resulting statistics as an evaluation – just by copying and pasting from your spreadsheet into a web form.

The goal of these exercises is basically to do the computations by hand, but also at the same time taking full advantage of Excel. You will set up and define the calculations needed, but then let Excel do all of the tedious, hard work of actually performing the calculations. As a typical example, you will often need to enter a long column of test scores that must be added up, but you will actually have Excel do the calculation of summing.

We will deliberately avoid using any of Excel’s built-in statistical functions – which are many – until we have finished doing our own calculations. Then, we’ll use Excel’s stat functions to check our work. Remember, the goal of the course is to understand where all the calculated numbers and statistics come from. Getting the answer is not the point, but knowing how to get to the answer is.

These activities will be graded in the following manner. To get credit for an attempt on any Excel exercise, you must answer all of the questions correctly for that exercise. You can redo the exercise as often as you wish, with points awarded as follows:

After four attempts, your instructor will work with you to finish the exercise. No one will receive less than 75% credit for an exercise as long as they complete the exercise in whatever manner the instructor deems appropriate.

Note: You will have the option to continue your learning of statistics using this approach for the final course project, as explained below, to compute the following statistics:


Informal Activity - SDC - Systematic Data Collection

Purpose: To experience first-hand what it feels like to do collect data systematically on a topic of the participant's choice; To reflect on the role and value of research data to inform one's thinking or decision-making in practice.

 

As the name suggests, this is meant as an informal, fun assignment to gain some experience of what it feels like to actually do research on a topic of personal interest to you. Your task is to identify a subject or topic on which you have genuine curiosity and then collect data systematically on it. All you have to submit to get credit for this assignment is a brief written report (about 225 words) in which you describe the following:

(If you choose to collect data on yourself, a family member, or any other person, be careful not to disclose any personal information in your reflection given that this reflection will be posted on the Internet.)

We will brainstorm possible topics during class, but here are just a few to get you thinking:


Informal Activity - Conducting an Interview

Purpose: To gain experience with an essential qualitative data collection technique.

 

You are free to interview any (willing) person, including a family member, on any appropriate topic. The interview can be short - I recommend aiming for 15 minutes. First, you need to prepare an interview protocol consisting of the basic questions you will ask. It is acceptable (and usual) that follow-up questions will be asked during the interview depending on answers given during the interview. However, it is important all of the questions on the protocol are asked. Audio record the interview. You do not have to transcribe the interview (though you would do so if this wasn't just an informal assignment), but you need to listen to it at least two times. Then, write a reflection (about 300 words) that covers the following points:

    1. Describe the topic (at least 25 words);
    2. Describe how you identified your interviewee (at least 25 words);
    3. Describe your design decisions in developing the interview protocol (at least 50 words);
    4. Summarize the results of the interview (at least 50 words);
    5. Critique your interviewing skills and make suggestions for improvement (at least 50 words);
    6. React to activity - What was it like to prepare and implement the interview? Did it turn out to be easier or harder than you expected; What is your biggest take-away lesson? Etc. (at least 100 words)

Research Design Activities

Purpose: To give each participant the opportunity to individually learn and implement the particular research design skill being introduced and discussed at that time; each RDA is focused on helping everyone understand equally the particular skill and process highlighted in the RDA.

 

RDAs are designed to enhance, extend, and support course content. These are completed individually and are meant to give you some initial practice in each of the major themes of the course. These activities are meant to be "low stress," so if you find yourself sweating over them, you are missing the point. The purpose of each RDA is to give you some quick, initial practice applying the respective design skill. If you do not complete a specific RDA appropriately, you will have one opportunity to resubmit based on the instructor feedback.

Though you are under no obligation to do so, it is perfectly acceptable to refine any or all of the RDAs to make them part of the research proposal project (option 1) if you choose that for your course project due at the end of the course. It is therefore wise to identify your project topic early on in order for you to use the RDAs as the first step in your project.

Two RDAs are planned based on the following topics:


Course Project

 

Participants have their choice of three options for the course project: 1) Write a brief project proposal and record an accompanying presentation; 2) Focus on writing a review of literature on educational topic; and 3) Focus on learning fundamental statistics in educational research. Although Option 1 is the traditional project for this course, the other two options may be suitable for individuals with different learning goals. For example, participants who have a strong interest in a particular research topic may find option 2 most useful and focus attention on reviewing the literature on that topic. Individuals who intend to pursue a Ph.D. may find option 3 more relevant in order to extend their introductory knowledge of fundamental statistics.

Option 1 - Traditional Option 2 - ROL

Option 3 - More Statistics

Write a Brief Project Proposal and Make a Presentation Conduct an Extended Review of Literature

Continuation of the Statistics in Education for Mere Mortals Approach

You need to make your decision by Friday, June 28. However, you can change your mind at any point, keeping in mind that all project options must be completed by July 19.

(Note: If you have already prepared a research proposal for another course on a topic that you wish to pursue, I am open to a fourth option where you actually conduct a small-scale pilot study following the procedures of that proposal. This is a good option for research-masters students who are about to start a Ph.D. program. If interested, contact me for us to discuss this option in more detail.)

Below are descriptions of each of these three options:

Option 1: Write a Brief Project Proposal and Make a Presentation

The task is to write a project proposal in which you apply your research skills. We will use a real-world analogy for the preparation of this project, that of persuading some administrative, governing, or funding group to take action in the form of approving (and perhaps funding) your project idea. Using that analogy, imagine that a short, allotted time has been given to you to address this group. Your project will consist of two elements:

Both elements need to describe or address the following: 1) Problem area or topic; 2) Review of the related literature; 3) Design of an approach you are taking to study, solve, or improve an educational problem.

The approach you are taking to solve or improve the problem can take one of two forms: An original research study proposal to collect new data on the topic; or a development project proposal to build or produce something on the topic with a design based on existing research.

Your presentation must be pre-recorded and made available to all participants in the course no later than July 9. (Tools and strategies for accomplishing this will be discussed in class.) The 2-page executive summary is due July 13.

Click here for an evaluation rubric for option 1.

Option 2: Review of Literature

With this option, you focus on reviewing the research literature on a topic of your choice. This option is a good choice for anyone who has already identified a strong interest in a particular topic and wishes to learn more about what research has already been done on it. This option is particularly well suited to anyone who is intending to apply to a Ph.D. program.

Your review of literature needs to be between 2000-2500 words (approximately 10 pages, double-spaced, not including references). It should follow this basic outline:

The paper needs to follow APA formatting guidelines.

Option 3: Continuation of the Statistics in Education for Mere Mortals Approach

This option constitutes a deep dive into the use of statistics in education and is a continuation of the SEMM activities you've already completed. This is a good option for anyone wanting to leave this course with some specific statistical skills useful in both evaluation and research. There are two requirements for this option. The first is to continue completing a series of activities that follow the same approach as the first three required SEMM activities to learn how to compute and use the following statistics:

Second, you need to find and summarize four examples of research articles that use any of these four statistical tests, or combination thereof, to analyze and interpret research data. Each entry consists of the following sections:

The most typical examples will be journal articles, but any credible scholarly source can be used. Other examples include reports by universities, institutes, government agencies, and professional organizations. You are cautioned against using examples from mass media but if you do so, be sure that the example followed rigorous review or fact-checking procedures.


Peer Critique of Research Design Project Presentations

Purpose: To watch and provide a brief critique of a subset of the presentations made by your classmates.

 

One of the time-tested benefits of this course is that participants tend to address very important and timely research topics in their final projects, resulting in an opportunity for the rest of us to learn a great deal. The requirements that all presentations be short and pre-recorded allow us to use our time flexibly and strategically to enjoy this benefit. Rather than be required to listen to every project presentation, each participant will instead be required to watch a subset that best matches their interests.

All participants must choose to watch at least 5 presentations of other classmates' research design projects and write and submit a brief critique of each (approximately 100 words for each critique) addressing the following points: 1) 1-sentence summary of the topic; 2) importance of the topic; 3) strengths and weaknesses of the project; and 4) persuasiveness of the presentation.

Details on how and where to submit these critiques will be announced and explained in class. All peer critiques are due no later than July 19, 2019.


Policy on Late Assignments

A goal of this course is to reduce anxiety and increase enjoyment in the learning of educational research methods. Consequently, there are no penalties for assignments turned in a little late. After all, life has a habit of intervening once in awhile. Here are the procedures you need to follow:

It should go without saying that you should take advantage of this late assignment policy sparingly. It meant for the occasional time when something in your personal life interferes with your completion of the course requirements.


Course Calendar

Important note: This is a summer course with a condensed calendar. The rule of thumb is that two class days in the summer is equivalent to one week in a regular semester. Please plan your work and study plan accordingly, and expect to work every weekend.

Due dates below may be adjusted as needed. Any changes will be announced in email, then noted in red below for easy spotting. Unless noted otherwise, the requirement is due by the end of the day listed (i.e. 11:59 pm).

Short-cuts:

Helpful hint! YouTube lets you change the playback speed of videos. Just click on the gear icon in the bottom right corner of any YouTube video. So, feel free to speed up or slow down any of the videos.

 

Week Date Topic / Activity What's Due
 

June 7
Friday

Welcome & Orientation

Watch Course Tour Video

Read the syllabus

Buy the book

Complete this survey

1

June 10
Monday

Leedy & Ormrod: What is Research?
Read textbook chapter & watch video

Post an introduction to yourself in the eLC discussion board

 

June 11
Tuesday

Leedy & Ormrod: The Nature and Tools of Research
Read textbook chapter & watch video

Check out the introductions posted in the eLC discussion board

 

June 12
Wednesday

Scales of Measurement; Measures of Central Tendency & Variability
Watch SEMM Video: Introduction to Statistics

Note: The SEMM (statistics in education for mere mortals) videos were developed for another course focused exclusively on learning statistics. This point is mentioned occasionally in the SEMM videos. In contrast, EDIT 6900 considers the broad range of research methods.

Collaborate Live Class

Attendance is expected - email Lloyd if you will not attend. Meet in Lloyd's Zoom Room at 6 pm

 

 

 

June 13
Thursday

Research vs. Evaluation & Quantitative vs. Qualitative vs. Mixed Methods
Watch SEMM Video: Some Important Context

Computing the Mean with Excel
Watch & Build with SEMM Video: Computing the Mean with Excel

 

 
 

June 14
Friday

 

Complete statistics activity: Computing the mean
Use the new bowling scores Lloyd posts in your eLC SEMM Discussion board and answer the questions as a reply to his post.

Post your research topic interest in the eLC discussion board

2

June 17
Monday

Leedy & Ormrod: The Problem: The Heart of the Research Process
Read textbook chapter & watch video

Descriptive Statistics: The Standard Deviation
Watch SEMM Video: Descriptive Statistics: The Standard Deviation

 

 

 
 

June 18
Tuesday

Computing the Standard Deviation with Excel
Watch & Build with SEMM Video: Computing a Standard Deviation with Excel

Complete statistics activity: Computing the standard deviation
Use the new scores Lloyd posts in your eLC SEMM Discussion board and answer the questions as a reply to his post.

 

June 19
Wednesday

Leedy & Ormrod: Review of the Related Literature
Read textbook chapter & watch video

Collaborate Live Class

Attendance is expected - email Lloyd if you will not attend. Meet in Lloyd's Zoom Room at 6 pm

Watch video: How to conduct a literature review using the UGA library's online resources

RDA 1: Identifying a research problem and writing a researchable question
RDA 1 Template

 

June 20
Thursday

Descriptive Statistics: z Scores
Watch SEMM Video: Descriptive Statistics: z Scores

 
 

June 21
Friday

Computing z Scores with Excel
Watch & Build with SEMM Video: Computing z Scores with Excel

Complete statistics activity: Computing z scores
Use the new scores Lloyd posts in your eLC SEMM Discussion board and answer the questions as a reply to his post.

3

June 24
Monday

Leedy & Ormrod: Planning Your Research Project
Read textbook chapter & watch video

 

 

June 25
Tuesday

   
 

June 26
Wednesday

 

RDA 2: Writing a literature critique

 

June 27
Thursday

Leedy & Ormrod: Writing the Research Proposal
Read textbook chapter (no video)

 

 

June 28
Friday

 

Course project option decision due

4

July 1
Monday

Leedy & Ormrod: Descriptive Research
Read textbook chapter (no video)

Descriptive Statistics: Introduction to Correlational Statistics
Watch SEMM Video: Introduction to Correlational Statistics

 
 

July 2
Tuesday

Leedy & Ormrod: Experimental, Quasi-Experimental, and Ex Post Facto Designs
Read textbook chapter (no video)

Introduction to Inferential Statistics
Watch SEMM Video

Related video (optional): Richard Feynman on the Scientific Method
Watch video

 

 
 

July 3
Wednesday

Leedy & Ormrod: Analyzing Quantitative Data
Read textbook chapter (no video)

Related video (optional): Introduction to Computing an ANOVA using SPSS
Watch video

Collaborate Live Class

Attendance is expected - email Lloyd if you will not attend. Meet in Lloyd's Zoom Room at 6 pm

 
 

July 4
Thursday


Happy July 4th Holiday!

 
 

July 5
Friday

Leedy & Ormrod: Qualitative Research
Read textbook chapter & watch video

Related video (optional): Dr. Kathy Roulston: What is Qualitative Research
Watch video

 
5

July 8
Monday

Leedy & Ormrod: Mixed-Methods Designs
Read textbook chapter (no video)

Interviewing Practice Report Due

 

July 9
Tuesday

Leedy & Ormrod: Planning & Preparing a Final Research Rerport
Read textbook chapter (no video)

 

 

July 10
Wednesday

 

 

 

 

July 11
Thursday

Work on projects

 

 

July 12
Friday

Work on projects

 

6

July 15
Monday

Work on projects

SDC Report Due

 

July 16
Tuesday

Work on projects

 
 

July 17
Wednesday

Work on projects

Course Project Presentation Due (option 1 only)

 

July 18
Thursday

Work on projects

 

 

July 19
Friday

Work on projects

Course Projects Due

 


Closing comments and cautions

This course, due to its strong application orientation, is highly activity-based. In completing the research design project, it is important that everyone identify their problem area early and pace their work appropriately. The research design project consists of many phases which build upon each other. Individuals who wait until late in the course to begin may experience "log jams" and may find it difficult to complete the project with high quality, thus risking a lower grade and, more importantly, less professional gain. Often, participants enter a course thinking that they can always take an "incomplete" if they decide they will not complete the course requirements on time. Keep in mind that I follow the university guidelines regarding an incomplete grade which reserve this for unforeseen circumstances or emergencies, not merely a failure to complete the work on time. I am confident that those who heed this warning will be able to complete the course with sufficient time to produce a high quality product while gaining personal and professional satisfaction.


Acknowledgements

This syllabus and the design of the course is adapted from courses taught by Dr. Janette Hill and Dr. Mary Ann Fitzgerald. I thank them very much for graciously offering their materials and expertise in the development of this course. I also acknowledge the efforts of Dr. Thomas Reeves -- his teaching of this course greatly informed the design and structure used by Dr. Hill and Dr. Fitzgerald. Finally, thanks also go to Dr. Michael Orey for sharing his ideas and experiences related to teaching this course.

Design by Nicolas Fafchamps