The potential for using quantitative methods in education research has increased dramatically in the last decades. This is thanks to the improved availability of large-scale quantitative data, computer and software advancements and the increasing recognition of the importance of quantitative evidence for practice and policy. However, the analysis of quantitative data can be challenging even for those scientists who are knowledgeable about statistics and use them in their fields. This is because the ‘variables’ being studied do not refer to atoms or molecules but to people and social contexts which do not conform to natural laws.
This session will discuss the importance of choosing suitable data and statistical methods for exploring social patterns – e.g. investigating similarities and differences in the outcomes of different groups of students – and explaining them – i.e. the factors behind these similarities and differences. Drawing from recent research on the relationship between school curriculum and post-school outcomes (see pre-reading), the strengths (but also the limitations) of using large-scale secondary data and regression analysis will be examined.
Pre-reading: Iannelli, C. and Duta, A. (2018) ‘Inequalities in School Leavers’ Labour Market Outcomes: Do School Subject Choices Matter?’, Oxford Review of Education, 44(1): 56-74. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03054985.2018.1409970 (open access)
Cristina Iannelli is Professor of Education and Social Stratification at the University of Edinburgh. Her main research interests are: social inequalities in education, social mobility, youth transitions, cross-country comparative analysis and advanced quantitative research methods. She has extensive research experience as leader and co-investigator of several national and international research projects. She was one of the founders of the Scotland-wide Advanced Quantitative Methods Network (AQMeN) (funded by the ESRC and the Scottish Funding Council) which aimed to boost capacity in quantitative methods in Scotland. She is currently Co-Director of the ESRC large grant Understanding Inequalities, a multidisciplinary and international research project exploring the causes, consequences and policy implications of social inequalities over the life course and across different geographical areas.