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Summary Evaluation
Longitudinal Research in Education


One day workshop/seminar
23 January 2004, University of York

One of the key dimensions in all social science research is time – in how things change and how time impacts upon social processes. Time has a significant role to play in all education research, both as a framework from which to study phenomena or educational processes and as a factor in helping us to understand these phenomena and processes.

This workshop/seminar introduces participants to different ways in which longitudinal research can be used in education. It showed how time can be introduced into research both within a single study and for repeated research studies. The workshop/seminar also examined a range of different types of research that use different forms of data – including ‘qualitative’ and ‘quantitative’ data. The workshop also discussed the use of existing large-scale datasets, such as the British Household Panel Survey and the Youth Cohort Study, in the context of education research.

The day involved presentations from three leading researchers from across the UK who have undertaken longitudinal research. They presented and initiated discussion around their different approaches to longitudinal research. Opportunity was also given to discuss the advantages and limitations of each approach.

This workshop/seminar was designed to be of interest to any education researcher interested in finding out more about longitudinal approaches to education research.

Given the fairly wide remit of the day it was perhaps not surprising that participants had extremely mixed views about the success and quality of the day. There was both constructive criticism and high praise for each of the presenters. The feedback from participants raised a number of issues, however. Clearly a future event must encourage more hands-on or case study experience in undertaking longitudinal research. There should also be greater attention to the analysis of qualitative data, particularly in qualitative longitudinal research. Also, there is a need to identify specific educational examples of longitudinal research, particularly that use quantitative methods or existing large-scale datasets.

One concern was that the audience was mixed with differing levels of expertise in quantitative and qualitative research methods. This can have repercussions on the level of questions and discussion that follows. However, it did encourage participants to engage with methods they would not have traditionally used.

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This page was last updated 26 March 2004