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Issues in Using SPSS in an Educational Research Environment . Ian Schagen National Foundation for Educational Research 11 th November 2005. What Is NFER?. UK’s leading independent educational research organisation

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issues in using spss in an educational research environment

Issues in Using SPSS in an Educational Research Environment

Ian Schagen

National Foundation for Educational Research

11th November 2005

what is nfer
What Is NFER?
  • UK’s leading independent educational research organisation
  • Income largely through sponsored research – government, quangos, charities, other organisations
  • Main office in Slough – smaller offices in York and Swansea; links with Queen’s, Belfast
what is srag
What is SRAG?
  • Statistics Research and Analysis Group
  • 12 statisticians working as a team
  • Responsible for all analysis of quantitative data throughout NFER
  • Work closely with researchers as part of the project team
  • Analysis of survey data
  • Analysis of national test data
  • Analysis of test development data
why use spss
Why Use SPSS ?
  • Most analysis uses SPSS
  • Some specialist software
  • Excel for presenting results to schools etc.
  • Use largely historical
  • Investment in macros and standard bits of code
  • Accessibility for researchers
use of spss syntax
Use of SPSS Syntax
  • We use syntax for all our work to provide an ‘audit trail’ and to aid QA
  • Need to ensure one-to-one link between syntax and output (same name)
  • Dangers of ‘point and click’ approach
  • Able to pick up standard syntax and macros – tested and documented
  • But beware of ‘black box’ mentality
why i use spss 6
Why I Use SPSS-6
  • Better output
  • Batch mode available (from DOS)
advantages of spss 6 output
Advantages of SPSS-6 Output
  • Consistent font throughout
  • ASCII file can be opened by any editor
  • Output breaks across pages sensibly
  • Can be imported to Word etc easily
  • Frequency tables have number of cases underneath each table
  • Titles appear routinely
  • Errors can be searched for easily
on the other hand
On the Other Hand ...
  • SPSS-11 etc are more powerful, and there are some things they do that can’t be done in SPSS-6
  • Some output formats may be better in some cases
how we use spss
How We Use SPSS
  • Often, all analysis is carried out in SPSS, from raw data to final results – e.g. basic frequencies, crosstabs, multiple response, factor analysis, regression.
  • Other times, SPSS is used to provide an interface between different pieces of software
  • A number of standard SPSS macros have been created to do certain tasks
example feedback to schools
Example: Feedback to Schools
  • On occasions we want to provide schools with graphical displays of their pupils’ attitudes compared with others.
  • Data is cleaned in SPSS and aggregated to school level.
  • This is output to an Excel file, one row per case.
  • An Excel template uses a macro to read the school data and print one copy for each school.