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Unit 7 Research Skills

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·   Aim

To equip learners with the knowledge and research skills needed to select a research question, and design a research proposal for a chosen topic of interest.

·   Unit abstract

Research skills equip learners with a higher level of knowledge and skills that will allow them to be self-directed and focused in a specific field of expertise. Research is undertaken in a range of disciplines and is quite prevalent in domains such as medicine, science and academia.

Research is paramount in terms of establishing what has been experienced and discovered in the past, relating this to current studies in the field, and providing some sort of hypothesis or prediction for the future.

Research involves the exploration of a range of primary and secondary sources of information. From theses sources, conclusions can be drawn regarding a particular question or theory that may need to be investigated and tested. Submitting a research proposal, may be based upon these original findings, and through the adoption of a research methodology, new discoveries could be unearthed and recorded.. There are a number of elements that contribute to research. These can include the application of a research methodology that will determine how the research is conducted and also whether it will be of a qualitative or quantitative nature. The research question should spearhead the studies and provide a focus on a specific area, idea, concept or development.

On completion of this unit learners should be able to conduct a literature review that will engage them in identifying a range of primary and secondary information sources. Learners will be able to critique sources and triangulate the information gathered to determine currency and validity in the area of study undertaken.

Learners will also engage in research seminars both as a participant and as a reviewer. The seminars will be used as a forum to disseminate good practice, and to create an awareness of topical issues within their chosen research field.

·   Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit a learner will:
  1. Understand different research methodologies
  2. Know how to conduct a literature review
  3. Be able to present a research proposal
  4. Be able to contribute to a research seminar.


Unit content

1         Understand different research methodologies

Research types and methodologies: types eg experimental research, survey research, evaluative research, observational research, developmental research; applied versus fundamental research

Data collection: methods eg primary and secondary data collection, observatory, experimental

Research pitfalls: problems eg dependency and access to information sources, time, money, expertise, introduction of bias, the Hawthorne Effect, the Halo Effect

Types of data: qualitative eg ‘information rich and data poor’; quantitative eg statistical analysis techniques, ratios

2         Know how to conduct a literature review

Sources of information: types eg visual, audio, paper-based, electronic; benefits and drawbacks of types; categories eg primary and secondary sources, restrictions and limitations

Accuracy of information: validity eg triangulation of resources to ensure validity; currency

Literature review framework: styles eg Harvard referencing; adopting a formal format

3         Be able to present a research proposal

Research question: defining the question eg selection and suitability; scope and boundaries; target audience

Survey methods: interview techniques eg unstructured, structured, semi-structured; administered questionnaire; attitude measurements eg Likert scaling, Thurstone scaling, Guttman scaling, semantic differential scaling; sampling eg random, quota, stratified

Research ethics: issues eg potential ethical issues arising during research, ways to address ethical issues in research; role of the Ethics Committee

4         Be able to contribute to a research seminar

Research seminar: functions eg disseminate ideas and good practice; discuss research proposals; gather feedback to inform proposals

Delivery strategies: structure eg clear framework; level of detail; use of IT


Learning outcomes and assessment criteria

Learning outcomes   On successful completion of this unit a learner will: Assessment criteria for pass   The learner can:
LO1 Understand different research methodologies assess different research methodologiesjustify the use of a research methodology to be used for the research proposaldiscuss the importance of both qualitative and quantitative data in researchexplain the problems that can arise when undertaking research
LO2 Know how to conduct a literature review justify the use of research sourcesevaluate the importance of using primary information sourcesdescribe a recognised system for referencing
LO3 Be able to present a research proposal present a research proposal to a defined audience utilising appropriate survey techniquesdiscuss the role of ethics in research
LO4 Be able to contribute to a research seminar prepare an extract from the research proposal appropriate to a seminar environmentprovide constructive feedback on proposals presented within the seminar environment.

Guidance

Links to National Occupational Standards, other BTEC units, other BTEC qualifications and other relevant units and qualifications

The learning outcomes associated with this unit are closely linked with:

Level 3 Level 4 Level 5
  Unit 5: Emerging Technologies Unit 4: Project Design, Implementation and Evaluation
  Unit 8: Management of Projects  

Essential requirements

Learners must have access to a range of texts, journals, papers, case studies, conference proceedings, and dissertation submissions. Learners must also keep up to date with current research developments in the field.

Resources

Books

Burton N – Doing Your Education Research Project (Sage Ltd, 2008) ISBN 9781412947558 Fink A – Conducting Research Literature Reviews: From the Internet to Paper, Third Edition

(Sage Inc, June 2009) ISBN 9781412971898

Kassem D, Mufti E and Robinson J – Education Studies: Issues and Critical Perspectives (Open University Press, 2006) ISBN 9780335219728

Sharp J – Success with Your Education Research Project (Learning Matters first edition, January 2009) ISBN 9781844451333

Wellington J – Educational Research: Contemporary Issues and Practical Approaches

(Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd, 2000) ISBN 9780826449719

Journals

Education Action Research

International Journal of Educational research Journal of Dissertation

Research Ethics Review

Employer engagement and vocational contexts

To further enrich the content of this unit and to provide more of a vocational context it would be beneficial to bring in researchers in different fields who can share their experiences of putting together a research proposal.