Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


HLSC640 Interpreting Health Research OR HLSC641 Introduction to Health Sciences Research

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit supports students in developing the ability to identify contemporary and relevant research questions, research design and research methods for quantitative data collection and analysis. Students will be supported to develop skills in analysing and synthesising complex information, including concepts and theories associated with quantitative research processes. Students will be supported to develop advanced decision–making skills in response to emerging challenges in health care that require advanced knowledge and skill of descriptive and inferential statistical methods as well as the ability to analyse research validity and reliability.

The aim of the unit is to develop students’ ability to use quantitative research methods in the context of health related research, in developing a quantitative research proposal and in report writing.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - compare and contrast quantitative approaches to research and criteria for evaluation (GA4);

LO2 - examine ethical and legal issues in quantitative research (GA3);

LO3 - demonstrate knowledge and skills in relation to research methods for studies using quantitative approaches to data collection, analysis and interpretation (GA8);

LO4 - demonstrate beginning skills in the use of selected statistical software packages (GA10);

LO5 - develop a preliminary quantitative research proposal (GA9) .

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will include:


  • Introducing quantitative research methods and epidemiology
  • Understanding relationships between variables
  • Introducing main observational study designs
  • Measures of association, confounding and bias
  • Experimental design – randomized controlled trial
  • Data measurement scales
  • Displaying of quantitative data in tables and graphs
  • Measures of central tendency and variability
  • Stratification
  • Display of quantitative data in tables and graphs
  • Measures of central tendency and variability
  • Stratification
  • Introducing basic steps in research planning
  • Accuracy, precision and bias of measurements
  • Introducing validity, reliability, sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values
  • Ethics and integrity in research practice
  • Statistical distributions and hypothesis testing
  • Comparison of means of dependent and independent groups. Comparison of proportions.
  • Parametric and non-parametric tests
  • Correlation and Regression
  • Analysis of variance
  • Introducing SPSS

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

HLSC647 is only offered in online mode.


Teaching and learning strategies utilised in this unit will support students in meeting the aim and achieving the learning outcomes relevant to this unit as well as to the broader course learning outcomes.


In online mode, students acquire essential quantitative knowledge via a series of asynchronous online lessons which include: recorded lecture content; online readings, online discussion forums and self-directed learning activities. The unit uses an active learning approach to support students as they gain knowledge and application of quantitative techniques. Activities focus on analysis of health datasets or other material to provide context to student analysis and interpretation and an authentic learning experience. Students are provided with the opportunity to attend facilitated synchronous online tutorial classes (virtual classroom via adobe connect) to participate in the development and synthesis of this knowledge with other students and deepen their level of understanding and engage in peer learning while receiving expert support for skill development.

Assessment strategy and rationale

To pass this unit, students are expected to submit three graded assessment tasks. In addition, students must achieve a cumulative grade of at least 50% across all assessments. The assessment strategy used allows for the progressive development of knowledge and skills in relation to quantitative research methods so that the students can demonstrate their preparedness to undertake a scholarly research-based project using a quantitative research approach.   


In order to develop their preparedness to undertake a quantitative research-based project, students need to develop a firm understanding of quantitative research methodology and associated terminology as well as methods of data collection and data analysis. 

The first assessment task supports students in articulating terminology relevant to quantitative research.

The second assessment task enables students to demonstrate their understanding of quantitative research methodology and to extend their knowledge by providing responses to research-based questions from the lecturer and peers. 

The final assessment task supports students in the development of a research proposal using quantitative research methodology. This enables students to demonstrate an understanding of the various elements of a research proposal and their knowledge of quantitative research methodology applicable to undertaking research in the health care environment. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Short-Answer Task


Enables students to demonstrate their ability to write a brief description of key terms and their meaning.


LO1, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA8, GA10



Enables students to demonstrate their ability to answer quantitative questions.


LO1, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA8, GA10

Quantitative Research Proposal


Enables students to their ability to prepare a research proposal relevant to the health care environment.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO5

GA3, GA4, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Abramson, J., & Abramson, Z.H. (2008). Research methods in community medicine: Surveys, epidemiological research, programme evaluation, clinical trials (6th ed.). Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

 Bowling, A., & Ebrahim, S. (2005). Handbook of health research methods. Maidenhead, Berks: Open University Press.

 Courtney, M., & McCutcheon, H.  (Eds.). (2009). Using evidence to guide nursing practice (2nd ed.). Sydney: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.

 LoBiondo-Wood, G., & Haber, J. (Eds.). (2010). Nursing research: Methods and critical appraisal for evidence-based practice (7th ed.). St Louis, MO: Mosby/Elsevier.

 Neuman, W. L. (2014). Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson, Allyn and Bacon.

 Scott, I., & Mazhindu, D. (2005). Statistics for health care professionals: An introduction.  

DOI: 10.4135/9781849209960

Cook, A., Netuveli, G., & Sheikh, A. (2004). Basic skills in statistics: A guide for healthcare professionals. Class Publishing.

 Rugg G. (2007). Using statistics: A gentle introduction. Maidenhead, Berks: Open University Press.

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