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Practice of Empirical Research


Admission requirements

Knowledge of statistics, research methods and SPSS at the level of the Leiden Bachelor’s Programme Education and Child Studies.


The course aims to get students acquainted with the practice of empirical research on the level required for their Research Master’s thesis. Scientific papers are examined in detail regarding their organisation and research methods. Attention will be paid to both the methodological design and the statistical analysis of results. The course offers tools for assessing the quality of published research results as well as for producing one’s own research report.

Course objectives

At the end of this course, the student:

  • understands and can apply basic methodological considerations for research in Education and Child studies

  • can properly perform and interpret the most current analysis methods (e.g., t-test, ANOVA, multiple regression) in Education and Child Studies

  • can formulate and analyse basic moderation and mediation models

  • can report in writing (in English or Dutch) on human development in an academic professional context;

  • can critically evaluate aspects of a published empirical research paper;

  • can analyse and evaluate scientific literature critically to establish its practical or theoretical relevance;

  • can formulate a consistent line of reasoning, based on scientific arguments;

  • is conscious of ethical considerations involved in performing and describing scientific research.


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable

Mode of instruction

  • Seven lectures

  • Five tutorial sessions (attendance obligatory)

  • Seven computer lab sessions (attendance obligatory)

  • Materials as well as instruction will be in English.

Attendance workgroups
There are five tutorial sessions and seven computer lab sessions for which attendance is obligatory. Absence of one meeting maximum is allowed and must be reported in advance by e-mail to the workgroup teacher. To replace the missed meeting, the student must hand in a replacement assignment. If more than one meeting is missed, the learning objectives of the course cannot be achieved. This means that the course cannot be successfully completed in the current academic year. The student must take the course again in the next academic year.

Assessment method

Grades are based on a final research paper (written in English or Dutch), under the condition that all other obligatory assignments have been successfully completed. The grades for this paper are rounded to halves.


During this course Brightspace will be used. The Brightspace site will contain announcements, course documents, information on tutorials and computer labs, lecture notes and discussion boards.

Reading list

All course materials will be available on the Brightspace site of the course.


Students must register themselves for all course components (lectures, tutorials and practicals) they wish to follow. You can register via My Studymap up to 5 days prior to the start of the course.

The exam of this course is a written report. Hence, you do not have to register for an exam in My Studymap.

Contact information

  • First check the Brightspace modules and only after failure to find what you want to know, contact the staff of the course;

  • For enrolment and organisational issues please e-mail the course coördinator;

  • For specific issues with respect to tutorials, computer labs, end paper, and absence please contact your workgroup instructor;

  • Please pose general questions regarding the end paper on the general Brightspace discussion board;

  • Please pose specific questions related to the subject of your tutorial group on the Group discussion board.

The coordinators of this course are dr. Sarah Plukaard