Understanding and Evaluating Research: A Critical Guide shows students how to be critical consumers of research and to appreciate the power of methodology as it shapes the research question, the use of theory in the study, the methods used, and how the outcomes are reported. The book starts with what it means to be a critical and uncritical reader of research, followed by a detailed chapter on methodology, and then proceeds to a discussion of each component of a research article as it is informed by the methodology. The book encourages readers to select an article from their discipline, learning along the way how to assess each component of the article and come to a judgment of its rigor or quality as a scholarly report.

Descriptive and Inferential Statistics

Learning Objectives

  • Compare and contrast the intent of descriptive and inferential statistics, and appreciate the connection between inferential statistics and the laws of probabilities
  • Compare and contrast the four types of measurements used in descriptive statistics (central, variation, relative standing, and relationships)
  • Become familiar with the range of statistical tests and concepts relevant to descriptive statistics (especially standard deviation, the bell curve, the contingency chi-square, and regression coefficients)
  • Explain the three approaches available for reporting descriptive statistics
  • Distinguish between association claims (inference of association) and causation claims (causal inference), and describe the mental process involved in moving from an association to a causation claim
  • Compare and contrast the nuances of parameter testing (hypothesis) and parameter estimation for inferential statistics, and distinguish between the purpose of null ...
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