Research reads to keep you warm on cold winter nights

Because, really, what’s more comforting in the middle of winter than curling up with a great book on quantitative research design and/or statistical analysis!

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This semester I have the pleasure of teaching a course on quantitative research methods for music education. In preparation for this class, I’ve been looking at all kinds of resources that could be helpful for the students (and me) to dig into compelling issues of research design and analysis. A couple of standouts from the pile of books I was wading through are listed below. In addition to being clearly written and approachable in style, each book does a great job elaborating on issues related to quantitative research that are often difficult to digest. These books aren’t designed to be suitable as a text for a music education¬†research methods course, but, they’re certainly excellent supplements.

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(snowflake courtesy of Lucy Miksza, 5 yrs old)

Stanovich, K. E. (2001). How to think straight about psychology (6th ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

  • This book is a terrific, down-to-Earth read about some of the most basic characteristics of scientific inquiry. I particularly enjoy the discussions of scientific inquiry as a converging process, the importance of falsification, and the challenges inherent in¬†probabilistic thinking. Being focused on the social science of psychology, it comes across as a good introduction to issues of scientific activity that comes across in a way that I think is relevant to many of the types of questions that music ed researchers may be interested in.

Abelson, R. (1995). Statistics as principled argument. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum Associates.

  • This is a humorous and plain-spoken collection of wisdom for those who are writing about statistical findings. The first chapter, “making claims with statistics,” raises a host of simple, yet important considerations for stats folk. All of the chapters, though, will be helpful – especially when thinking about developing a writing style.

Jaeger, R. M. (1990). Statistics as a spectators sport. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

  • I’ve relied on this book for one reason or another many times since getting bitten by the music ed research bug. This book lays out basic and intermediate statistical topics in an easy-to-grasp, conceptual manner. Jaeger’s explanations could be a great help for those who find that math and formulas seem to get in the way of understanding how statistical analysis techniques could serve music ed researchers. Or, if you’re looking for a book that ties together some loose ends and fills conceptual gaps – this could really help.
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2 comments

  1. Oddly, these DO sound like good reads to me. I say “oddly” because I’m usually too lazy to read stuff like this. The subject matter may compel me to check into them anyway.

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