Fall 2019 - EDUC 864 G001

Research Designs in Education (5)

Class Number: 1109

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 3 – Dec 2, 2019: Mon, 4:30–9:20 p.m.



Designing and interpreting research about education. Introduction to survey techniques, correlational designs, classic experimental and evaluation designs for investigating causal relations, case study methods, interpretive approaches to research. Students with credit for EDUC 814 may not take this course for further credit. Equivalent Courses: EDUC814


Out of the vast array of possible research designs in education, how do researchers go about thoughtfully choosing and developing designs congruent with their purposes and values? And how can one critically read and interpret published studies to assess the appropriateness and validity of their research design? These questions will be explored through a wide range of readings, discussions, and assignments. Research design is treated as a creative, imaginative process involving complex ethical and practical challenges, many of which are intrinsic to educational practice as well as to educational research. The course is designed to give students skills and confidence in reading research and designing their own research studies, and to deepen and expand their understanding of fundamental issues in educational research.


  • review key research methodologies in education, both qualitative and quantitative;
  • identify and construct worthwhile research questions;
  • articulate the rationale and purpose of a study;
  • elaborate a research design suited to your question, rationale, and purpose;
  • analyze the strengths and limitations of particular research designs;
  • understand ethical principles guiding research with human participants;
  • evaluate the relationships between research and education in terms of ethically motivated practice.


  • Online discussion postings (6) 30%
  • Wiki page + presentation on research method 30%
  • Research proposal 40%


Online discussions.
For six weeks in the first half of the course, you are asked to take part in discussions on Canvas prompted by your readings and by a few “seed questions” provided by the instructor. The regular expectation is that you post one response to the seed questions of at least 250 words, and in addition respond to at least four classmates’ postings. These postings should be completed before the next class, as they are intended as a preparation for in-class activities and discussions. Grading: maximum of 5% for each discussion, total = 30%.  

Wiki page + presentation on selected research method. This assignment is to be done in groups of 2 or 3. Your task is to build a web page for beginning researchers who want to learn more about a particular research approach that is not covered in depth in the general course readings, and then to prepare a short (15-minute) oral presentation of the same approach for the class on October 28. The intent is to broaden the shared knowledge of research designs within the class, and to give you the opportunity to delve more deeply into a particular research method of interest.

In your wiki, you may want to include the following sections (but you are free to modify and add to them as you see fit):

  • A general description of this research approach along with a short history of how and why it was developed and how it is currently being used;
  • A discussion of the key characteristics of the approach - what makes it different from other, related approaches, and the kinds of purposes it serves;
  • Practical considerations - how this kind of research is conducted, what a researcher needs to keep in mind, what kinds of context, scope and time scale are appropriate, what kinds of data are collected;
  • Ethical considerations - what kinds of relationships and value commitments are central to this kind of research, and what are the kinds of ethical challenges that can arise;
  • Interpretation and validity - what kinds of conclusions can be drawn on the basis of this kind of research, and how can their validity be established and tested;
  • One or more examples of this kind of research drawn from the recent literature, together with a discussion of their quality and significance.

The web page is to be built in the Pages section of Canvas. You can include links to other websites, documents, videos and so on, as well as a reference list at the bottom of the page for further reading.

Grading: 30%, based on how comprehensively you address the above aspects of the research approach, the quality of your understanding, and your ability to provide a succinct summary in the form of a presentation.  

Research proposal. This culminating assignment consists of several parts.
  1. One-page outline. This is a preliminary sketch of your research topic, your proposed methodology, and the context and timeline of your research. Further guidelines will be provided in due course. These proposals will be workshopped at the class on November 4. (Due by Nov. 4. 5%)
  2. Six-page draft. This is a full draft of your research proposal following guidelines based on those used by SSHRC, the main federal granting agency for educational research. Alternatively, if you wish to develop a research ethics submission, the guidelines of the SFU Office of Research Ethics will apply. Details and advice will be provided. (Due by Nov. 25. 15%)
  3. Peer (and instructor) feedback. You will be asked to read and comment on three drafts by your classmates (randomly assigned). Instructor feedback will also be given. (Due by Dec. 2.)
  4. Final draft on the basis of feedback received. (Due by Dec. 11. 20%.)



Leavy, P. (2017). Research design: Quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods, arts-based, and community-based participatory research approaches. New York and London: Guildord Press.
ISBN: 9781462514380


Van den Hoonaard, D.K. (2015). Qualitative Research in Action: A Canadian Primer (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press.
ISBN: 9780199009473

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html