Learning experience of quantitative methods

Educational master’s students’ learning experience of quantitative methods in one research intensive university faculty of education in China

Overview

Much has been written about the number of problems research methodology has caused to social science students. Quantitative methods (QM) are found to be particularly challenging hence are more likely to lead to students’ anxiety. Nevertheless, little empirical evidence has been gathered surrounding students learning experience of QM at postgraduate level, especially in Chinese universities educational departments, which hold culturally driven assumptions of knowledge and epistemological beliefs. The purpose of the research is to explore how QM are organised, taught and learnt at master's level in an elite Chinese university faculty of education. The study used a mixed-methods approach, employing both quantitative and qualitative methods, including questionnaires administered to 90 postgraduate students, documentary analysis of QM syllabus and interviews with two QM trainers. Findings showed that Chinese educational master students by no means experienced similar difficulties in QM learning to their Finish and USA counterparts. However, the QM programme and the reported learning experience reflected unique features, including programme objectives, curriculum contents, students’ learning approach, and situational orientation. These interlinked features were deeply shaped by and could only be understood in Chinese university systemic context where the parental type supervisor and student relationship is the historically accepted pattern, and students’ contribution to supervisors’ projects as research assistants is the norm of interaction.

Principal investigator

Dr Wei Zhang

Co-Investigator

Dr Xiaohua Zong

Collaborating Institution in China

Nanjing University

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