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Presentation on theme: " Year Two Year Three Year One Research methods teaching in the social sciences: An integrated approach to inquiry- based learning."— Presentation transcript:

1 Year Two Year Three Year One Research methods teaching in the social sciences: An integrated approach to inquiry- based learning (IBL) and curriculum development in Sociological Studies Dr. Tom Clark andDr. Liam Foster - University of Sheffield Year Three Rationale. Doing Social Research Social Research Skills Social Research Principles Given the potential of Inquiry-based learning (IBL) and the changing landscape of the HE sector, the Department of Sociological Studies at the University of Sheffield recently remodelled its undergraduate programme. As part of this process the research methods provision within the programme was re-orientated from an increasingly dated didactic approach towards one that directly supported an inquiry-based framework. The five modules which now make up the research methods spine aim to ensure a sound understanding of method under- pins the whole programme, whilst also providing students with skills that can be utilised in employment. Pushing beyond more traditional approaches, the spine specifically requires students to develop a range of tangible research skills that can be used to solve research questions and problems in a variety of contexts and culminates in a research-based dissertation. The spine also provides a secure platform that enables other substantive modules within the UG programme to offer more innovative forms of research-based assessments. An Introduction to Social Inquiry This module aims to introduce students to the theoretical, methodological and practical issues in conducting empirical social research. The module content covers a range of issues essential in the reading of research. These include introductions to: social research; issues of ontology and epistemology; research design and sampling; quantitative and qualitative techniques of data collection and analysis; research quality; and ethics. Associated seminars provide students with the opportunity to explore these issues with reference to an accessible research topic - fear of crime – so they can see how these issues matter in practice as well as theory. This module gives students the opportunity to develop practical experience of conducting research, from project planning through to writing up research findings. The module also operates to give students a wider appreciation of the department by asking them to conduct team-based research projects on particular members of staff. Not only does this allow them greater insight into the realities of the research process from the perspective of research-active staff, it also allows them to develop a greater sense of affiliation with the department and enhances departmental identity. Assessment A seen essay based exam focussed on lecture content and a multiple-choice questionnaire that examines their ability to find and evaluate research information. Teaching methods Lectures and student-led workshops as they investigate a member of staffs research, plan and carry out a qualitative interview, analyse the transcript and present their findings. Assessment Students have to produce a research report and present the findings of the project with the best going on to be presented at an end-of-semester departmental event. They are also required to reflect on the process of learning about and producing research. The module aims to build on the theoretical and practical experience gained at level one and attempts to enhance students understanding of the principles of social research and related philosophical debates. Learning about a variety of methodological techniques including survey research, participant observation, interviews, focus groups and document analysis, students are asked to judge which are appropriate to particular research problems and how to identify the merits and limitations of different types of research design. This includes an explicit understanding of issues of sampling, objectivity, reliability and validity, and their relative limitations as instruments of research quality. Teaching methods Lectures (including guest lectures from ONS) and seminars. Students also complete a series of quantitative workbooks and associated worksheets and team-based activities. Assessment A coursework essay where students pursue a methodological interest of their choice and by an exam quiz. The quiz involves a series of questions on issues associated with social research. This module equips students with the skills to plan and undertake qualitative and quantitative research using primary and secondary data. By requiring students to experience aspects of the research process and asking them to reflect on the process, it prepares students for the realities of doing research before they embark on their dissertations. Part of the module focuses on the qualitative research process. This involves idea generation, applying for funding, ethical approval, conducting field-work, and analysing data. At each stage students complete research-focussed tasks. Within the quantitative part of the module students are also given tasks, including how to find data, use SPSS to undertake analysis of datasets and present research findings. Assessment Students are required to produce a 1000 word research proposal for a dissertation project on a topic of their choice; a poster presentation of the findings of a team-based quantitative project that utilises a national dataset; and a 2000 word critical overview of the process of a team-based qualitative project. Teaching methods Lectures, seminars, SPSS and NVIVO computer workshops, workbooks and student led sessions. Dissertation The dissertation is the culmination of the entire methods spine and gives students the opportunity, in the context of an original piece of research on a topic of their own choosing, to undertake an independent research project. It enables students to draw upon and develop their knowledge and experience of research; allows them to demonstrate their understanding of the conceptual foundations laid in the earlier part of the programme; requires them to develop and undertake a critical analysis of a topic relevant to sociology and/or social policy; and demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the research methods training undertaken at levels two and three. Assessment It is assessed through the production of a 15,000 word thesis and involves gathering primary data, the secondary analysis of data already collected or desk-based theoretical enquiry. Teaching methods Alongside group and individual tutorials, students have three interactive workshops on the process of producing a dissertation. These include sessions on getting started, literature searching and writing a dissertation. Teaching methods Lectures, seminars and computer skills sessions.

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