Student confidence in using and applying research methods whilst studying within a sport and exercise discipline

Francesca Burton (School of Biomedical and Biological Sciences, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, UK)
Cathy Schofield (Department of Sport, Truro and Penwith College, University of Plymouth Colleges, Truro, UK)

Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education

ISSN: 2050-7003

Publication date: 22 April 2011



This paper aims to investigate the confidence of foundation degree (FdSc) and top‐up degree students in using and applying research methods within a sport and exercise discipline.


Closed questionnaires determined FdSc (n=24) and top‐up degree (n=21) students' confidence in five domains of research methods: using research literature, designing research studies, analysing data, interpreting research findings, and presenting research findings. Confidence was rated using a seven‐point Likert scale anchored by “most confident” (1) and “clueless” (7).


FdSc and top‐up students were most confident in using research literature and presenting research findings, respectively. Both FdSc and top‐up students were least confident in data analysis. Compared to FdSc, top‐up students were less confident in data analysis (FdSc: 3.4±0.29 vs top‐up: 4.38±0.39, p<0.01), interpreting research findings (FdSc: 2.99±0.39 vs top‐up: 3.62±0.42, p=0.02) and presenting research findings (FdSc: 2.90±0.17 vs top‐up: 3.33±0.15, p<0.01).

Research limitations/implications

These data outline a need to address the teaching of research methods within FdSc and top‐up degrees in order to enhance student confidence.


Research methods are a defining feature of higher education degrees yet remain a challenging subject for many lecturers and students. Progression through FdSc and top‐up programmes provides an interesting transition with regard to research methods due to more diverse student cohorts and different research experiences. Limited insight into the experience and confidence of students studying for sport related FdSc or top‐up programmes, with regard to research methods, is currently available.



Burton, F. and Schofield, C. (2011), "Student confidence in using and applying research methods whilst studying within a sport and exercise discipline", Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 15-27.

Download as .RIS



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.