Making Sense of Educational Research

This course introduces you to ways of understanding educational research. In particular, it clarifies the importance and relevance that an understanding of educational research has both for postgraduate studies in education and for informing professional practice. Through the semester, you will investigate the ways in which educational research informs our knowledge of education and, therefore, on how to read, and act on, educational research in order to strengthen the relationship between research & practice. Finally, you will develop and extend your academic skills including building your knowledge about issues such as plagiarism and ethics in research. A particular focus of this course is how educational research informs our knowledge and understanding of current educational issues, policies, and practices. 

During the course, you will have an opportunity to focus on an issue of professional interest and/or relevance to you through the semester. There are opportunities in other courses of your postgraduate program to further investigate the issue you work on in this course if you choose.

The course addresses the following three key questions:
  1. What are the educational issues facing Australian schools?
  2. How can educational research inform our knowledge and understanding of these issues and so influence educational policies and practices?
  3. How can we demonstrate our knowledge in academic and other professional contexts?
The assessment in this course is designed to provide opportunities for students to demonstrate their understandings of educational research in relation to the educational issue they have chosen to work on. Study materials and activities are provided to support students to:
  1. Identify an educational issue for further study;
  2. Investigate and critically review current research on the educational issue and develop an annotated bibliography and a mind map of key ideas from the research; and
  3. Present their findings in the form of a paper suitable for submission to an appropriate professional journal.

Aims, Objectives & Graduate Attributes

Course Aims

7806EDN Making Sense of Educational Research aims to introduce students to postgraduate study and, in particular, to educational research. That is, it aims to raise an awareness of how educational research can inform our knowledge and understanding of current educational issues, policies, and practices. This course serves as an introduction to educational issues, and is therefore important for students who do not have education qualifications. It is designed to give students entering the Master of Education an overview of educational issues. The course also aims to add to the skill set needed for postgraduate study.

Learning Objectives

After successfully completing this course you should be able to:
  1. explore issues currently important in Australian education;
  2. understand the research-practice connection in education;
  3. build on understandings of teacher professionalism and professionality;
  4. employ advanced information literacy skills;
  5. understand what plagiarism is and how to avoid instances in your academic work;
  6. understand the nature of, and be able to differentiate between, professional papers and research papers as sources of information;
  7. understand the scope, range and types of research papers in education;
  8. critically evaluate both research papers and professional papers;
  9. write an annotated bibliography for an issue of relevance to you; and
  10. write a paper for a professional journal on an issue of relevance to you.

Graduate Attributes

The course will contribute to Griffith University's aims to prepare graduates to be leaders in their fields by being:
  • Knowledgeable and Skilled in their Disciplines
  • Effective Communicators and Team Members
  • Innovative and Creative with Critical Judgement
  • Socially Responsible and Engaged in their Communities
  • Competent in Culturally Diverse and International Environments

Course Discussion

We will be using a Google Discussion group for course discussions. https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/7806edn2014

You will need to sign into this with a Google account. 

Module activities will involve posting responses to this Google Group, beginning with an introduction as detailed in Module 1.


If you are newly back to formal study, or uncertain over some aspects, please avail yourself of the StudySmart online tutorial.

You also have access to the Postgraduate Information Research Skills package, designed to assist research postgraduate and HDR students with library research. A series of online learning resources may assist you to assess your skills against the ANZIL Information Literacy Standards. There are also links to appropriate learning options and resources, with an information research activity log to refine and enhance your search strategies.
  • Login to Learning@Griffith using your username and password
  • Click on the Organisations tab at the top of the screen
  • Type Postgraduate Information Research Skills in the Organisation search box
  • Click on the Enrol button on the right hand side of the screen
  • Complete your enrolment in the Postgraduate Information Research Skills organisation by clicking on submit
  • Next time you login to Learning at Griffith you will see Postgraduate Information Research Skills listed under "My Organisations"

Recommended Texts

In this course you will not need a set text but may find the following of assistance:

APA. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association 6th edn. Washington: APA. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=25kOAQAAMAAJ&dq

Perrin, R. (2004). Pocket guide to APA style. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Tutorials and Workshops

For those participating in the course online, I encourage you to attend the Module 4 and 6 intensives if you can. They are held on Saturdays, the 6th of September and the 18th of October.


Assessment Item One


Weighting:  40%
Requirement:  2000 words
Date due: Week 8 Monday 5pm
Submission: Online via Learning@Griffith

This item asks students to identify an educational issue of interest to them and then explore this issue through current research literature.

Assessment Item Two


Weighting:  60%
Requirement:  4000 words
Date due: Week 14 Monday 5pm
Submission: Online via Learning@Griffith

Assessment Item 2 builds on your work from Item 1 and requires you to choose a professional journal relevant to your educational issue explored for assessment Item 1 and produce a feature article or lead article for the professional journal.