Summer course – Research Methodology in Education

June 19, 2017

I am pleased to be teaching Research Methodology in Education this summer for our Master of Education students. This is an online course offered from July 4 to August 16, 2017.

Course description

This first course in educational research methodologies provides the background necessary to make intelligent decisions around the kinds of research questions that might be asked and the sort(s) of insights and answers particular methods can provide.

Learner outcomes

Throughout the course of study students will be able to:

  • Identify viable and interesting research questions, both in their own potential research endeavours and in the work of published academics
  • Identify, compare and critique a variety of educational research methodologies based on their primary assumptions and methods
  • Evaluate the relevance of educational research methodologies with special consideration being given to stated research questions and the knowledge being sought
  • Differentiate between the central tenets of qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis strategies with special consideration being given to the strengths, weaknesses and relevance of each in education
  • Assess the validity of a variety of research methods, both qualitative and quantitative, commonly used in education
  • Examine and interrogate the relationships between research questions, research methods and interpretation of findings in educational studies
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of ethical issues in educational research, particularly with regard to the use of human participants
  • Formulate and evaluate their own preliminary research questions in response to both their research interests and professional context
  • Understand how action research applies to educational settings and contexts

Required readings

Creswell, J. W. (2014).  Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (4th ed).  Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Hendricks, C. (2016). Improving schools through Action Research: A reflective practice approach (4th ed.), Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Here’s a copy of the course outline: EDER_603.21_Su2017_Eaton_approved

This marks the tenth time I have taught this course online. I love working with students to help them gain a strong foundation in research methodology. I can’t wait to get started with this year’s group!


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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.



Program and Practice Evaluation

May 24, 2013

I am excited to be teaching a new course this spring semester. It’s a research course for the Master’s of Education program at the University of Calgary.

Course description

The purpose of this course is to provide an understanding of evaluation – as a discipline, as a profession, as a process and a product in a wide range of educational and social contexts. The primary focus of the course is holistic, large-scale program evaluation rather than the assessment of individuals (for example, the measurement of student achievement or personnel review).

This course focuses on developing an understanding of the logic of evaluative thinking, the nature of evaluation as a profession and discipline, the knowledge and skills needed to be expert consumers of program evaluation and novice evaluators in contexts relevant to individual career contexts.

Topics include:

  • the logic of evaluation
  • central concepts in evaluation
  • approaches to evaluation
  • standards in evaluation
  • the social and political nature of evaluation.

Learner outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe the logic of evaluation and explain its role in improving practice in teaching and learning
  • Understand, analyze, synthesize and apply the central concepts in evaluation
  • Be aware of and apply appropriate standards in evaluation, including ethical practices for evaluators
  • Understand, discuss, and critique the social and political nature of evaluation
  • Be familiar be with and critically analyze major approaches to evaluation and their designs, then synthesize into an appropriate evaluation plan that fits the needs of the particular evaluation task.

Here’s a copy of the course outline:

View this document on Scribd


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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) Please visit my speaking page, too.

How to create a research paper outline: 5 great resources

January 2, 2013

Sarah Elaine Eaton, speaker, presenter, keynote, technology, social media, Calgary, Canada, educator, education, professional developmentOnce again, I am teaching “Writing Educational Research” to Master’s of Education (M.Ed.) students at the University of Calgary this semester. I have found that some students struggle with the process of outlining their final research papers.

Outlining is an invaluable skill that helps you to conceptualize, plan and organize your writing. I learned to outline my essays when I was in school and to this day, I use outlines for research papers and even my books. I find that organizing my ideas in an outline helps me to keep my writing focussed and clear. I even outlined my Master’s and Ph.D. theses. When my Ph.D. thesis had to be modified as I was writing up my project, having an outline helped to decide what to toss, what to keep and how to re-organize the work effectively.

Here are some excellent resources that are useful to university level students, as well as high school students and adult learners who are learning to write essays:

  1. How to write an outline (SUNY) – This is an excellent web page resource produced by the State University of New York (SUNY). The method they demonstrate is the same one I learned in school. It is a classic “tiered” outline. The chart on this web page presents the information in a very clear way that is easy to understand.
  2. How to write an outline (LAVC) – Similar to the SUNY resource, this web page by the Los Angeles Valley College Library explains the difference between a topic outline and a sentence outline, using the tiered format. This web page has some great examples of what a real outline might look like.
  3. Wikihow – How to write an outline – This Wiki breaks down the process of writing an outline into simple, easy-to-follow steps. The wiki also has samples of a research outline, a literature outline and a “compare and contrast” outline.
  4. How to outline a 5-paragraph essay – This YouTube video (4:26) offers tips on how to write a shorter essay. It is great for students who have to write shorter papers or adults who are learning how to write an essay.
  5. Sample qualitative research outline by Rey Ty – This YouTube video moves a bit slowly, but it gives an excellent overview of how to write an outline for a qualitative research project.

Learning to outline is a valuable skill that will serve you in school and in the workplace. A good outline keeps you focussed, organized and on track.

Related posts:

Readings for Writing Educational Research (EDER 603.23)

12 Phrases to Avoid in Your Academic Research Papers

Active vs. passive voice — How to tell the difference

Why APA formatting matters

How many sources do you need in a literature review?

What’s the difference between a citation and a reference?

Why “as cited in” should be avoided in academic writing

10 Great writing resources for grad students –


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Tips for success in an online discussion board

January 3, 2012

Sarah Elaine Eaton, speaker, presenter, keynote, technology, social media, Calgary, Canada, educator, education, professional developmentHere are some tips for success in online, asynchronous discussion boards in any learning program or course:

Post regularly

Make time every week for your discussion board postings. You will need time when you can read through other posts without interruption, as well as write your own posts and replies.

I teach Master’s of Education students at the University of Calgary. In my courses, I encourage my students to check into the discussion board every day at a time of day when they can be alone, without children, co-workers or telephones interrupting them.

Be aware of deadlines for posting

A discussion board is an asynchronous learning tool. That means that you have some flexibility around when you post. However, in a learning situation where your discussion board contribution counts for part of your grade, there may be deadlines for contributing.

The reason for this is that your instructor has designed your course with a certain flow in mind. That means that the course is built so that one topic leads into another. Each topic builds on the one before it.

Your instructor may close a discussion board for active posting after a certain period of time, in order to keep everyone focused on current topics, rather than ones that have already been addressed.

Keep an eye on any deadlines and factor in your local time zone to ensure that you are contributing on time.

Don’t write a post – craft it.

Your contributions to your discussion board are your way to show your instructor and your peers that you have thoroughly understood and digested the weekly reading and you are prepared to add your contribution to the scholarly discussion.

Adding citations and references to your posts demonstrates you are concerned with giving credit where it is due.

Pose open-ended questions to draw others into your posts and engage them as readers.

A substantive discussion board post is probably at least 2 to 3 paragraphs long, but really, the quality of your post is equally (if not more) important than how long it is.

Understand the importance of the conversation

Posting your own answers or responses to discussion questions is important, but it is only part of the picture. Building a sense of “virtual community” is another important element.

You are expected not only to read, but also to comment on your peers’ posts by offering supportive feedback, reflective replies and additional resources that help everyone in the class to build their knowledge base.

Do not assume that reading your classmates’ posts is enough. It is up to you to demonstrate that you have read them. The main way you do that is by posting a thoughtful reply that shows you thought about the other person’s post.

References and resources

Jorgensen, E. (2012). 5 Tips for online discussion board success. All Allied Health Schools. Retrieved December 7, 2012, from

Speidel, B. J. (n.d.). Tips for Succeeding in an Online Class.   Retrieved December 7, 2012, from

TeacherStream LLC. (2009). Mastering online discussion board facilitation: Resource guide. Retrieved December 7, 2012, from

Teaching with Technology (Wiki). Tips for Discussion Boards. Retrieved December 7, 2012:


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This blog has had over 1.6 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

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