Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Research Methods in Comparative Education

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Euro-Mediterranean Centre for Educational Research

DESCRIPTION This unit provides training and dissertation support in the methods, concepts and skills required for research in education of a comparative and international nature. Comparative research draws eclectically from a wide variety of research methods, since it is itself multi-disciplinary in nature. Depending on their previous research experience and strengths in particular fields of study, as well as on the specific focus of the dissertation to be submitted at the end of the Masters course, students may draw on one or more of such research approaches as ethnography, participant observation, case-study methods, discourse analysis, historical analysis, review of country data sets (e.g. PISA, TIMMS), and so on. Irrespective of the methodology or methodologies used, and independent of whether the key focus is analytical, descriptive, evaluative or exploratory, participants will need to keep in mind the main aspiration for this course, namely that, in comparing and contrasting educational phenomena, perceived as culturally-embedded social practices, one ends up understanding one's own context better, as well as being better positioned to imagine alternatives.

Study-unit Aims:

The study unit will:
1. Introduce students to the relevant literature and contemporary research methodologies;
2. Give special attention to carrying out research in small states and developing and intermediately developed countries;
3. Provide ways of dealing with comparative and international research from both practical and theoretical perspectives;
4. Invite students to consider the search for knowledge and wisdom in the light of competing philosophical and epistemological perspectives, with particular attention being given to Critical Theory, critiques of Positivism, and different strands of Feminist and Postmodern scholarship.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Provide a critical discussion of the main qualitative research methods used in comparative education settings;
- Deploy a range of qualitative strategies;
- Show an understanding of the nature of populations and samples in relation to the inferential leap;
- Compute, explain the meaning of, and use basic summary statistics and their graphical representation;
- Show a practical understanding of the conceptual and statistical meaning of statistical significance and its use: explain the nature and purpose of various levels of statistical significance (p-values);
- Give an account of the nature and use of inferential statistics;
- Develop a working knowledge of the SPSS command lines to run a number of use with the SPSS; list and use several SPSS command lines to run a number of statistical techniques; understand SPSS print-outs and interpret findings.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Select appropriate research methods in relation to the research question/s being asked;
- Show an understanding of the epistemological nature of different research methods, and their claims to truth;
- Critically analyse scholarly material in terms of the appropriateness of research methods used.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:


- Alexander, R. (2001) Culture and Pedagogy: International Comparisons in Primary Education. London: Routledge.
- Aron, A., Aron, E.N. & Coupp, E.J. (2005) Statistics for the Behavioral and Social Sciences (3rd edition) (New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall) ISBN 0 13 129386 9.
- Crossley, M. (2003) Comparative and International Research in Education: Globalisation, Context and Difference. London & New York: Routledge.
- Freebody, P. (2003) Qualitative Research in Education: Interaction and Practice. London: Sage.
- Bogdan, R.C. & Biklen, S.K. (2002) Qualitative Research for Education: An Introduction to Theory and Methods. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, Inc. [4th edition].
- Cohen, L. & Manion, L. (2000) Research Methods in Education. London: Routledge [6th edition].
- Denzin, N.K. & Lincoln, Y.S. (eds)(2005) The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks: Sage. [3rd edition].
- Kendrick, J. R. Jr (2005) Social Statistics: An Introduction Using SPSS for Windows (2nd edition) (Boston: Allyn & Bacon).
- Willis, J. (2007) Foundations of Qualitative Research: Interpretive and Critical Approaches. London: Sage.

Supplementary (a selection):

- Green, S.B. & Salkind, N.J. (2004) Using SPSS for Windows and Macintosh: Analyzing and Understanding Data (4th edition) (New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall).
- Griffiths, M. (1998) Educational Research for Social Justice: Getting Off the Fence. Buckingham: Open University Press.
- Hammersley, M. & Atkinson, P (1995) Ethnography: Principles in Practice. London: Routledge.
- Lomax, R.G. (1998) Statistical Concepts: A Second Course for Education and the Behavioral Sciences (New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum).
- Lichtman, M. (2010) Qualitative Research in Education: A User’s Guide. London: Sage (2nd edition).
- Murray Thomas, T. (1998) Conducting Educational Research: A Comparative View. Westport, CT: Bergin and Garvey.
- Wilson, J.H. (2005) Essential Statistics (New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall).


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 50%
Case Study (take home) Yes 50%

LECTURER/S Liberato Camilleri
Ronald Sultana (Co-ord.)

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The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.