QDR provides two types of teaching resources for instructors of methods and substantive courses: materials to assist you in teaching data management, and ideas for how you can use data to enhance your teaching. All resources are appropriate for use at the advanced undergraduate and graduate levels.
Teaching Data Management
Research data management entails organizing, enhancing, offering access to, and preserving data throughout the research and data lifecycles.
Effectively managing research data is a key skill for empirical social science researchers, and one that generates multiple benefits. Nonetheless, data management is rarely included in social science methods courses at the advanced undergraduate or graduate levels. QDR believes it should be. To help you include managing data (as well as sharing data and making research transparent) in your teaching, QDR has assembled three types of resources:
- A PowerPoint presentation with notes;
- A syllabus entry with an outline and reading assignments;
- Handouts for in-class exercises.
Revised as you see fit, the materials could serve as the basis for one session of a methods course, or could be used to offer a stand-alone workshop. While most of the materials apply to quantitative and qualitative data alike, a small sub-set focuses specifically on qualitative data.
These materials are being provided under a CC-BY-SA Creative Commons license. You can freely use, alter, and share the materials, but you should acknowledge QDR and, for the presentation, QDR and the UK Data Service.
Using Data to Teach
In addition to facilitating the evaluation of scholarly work (when shared as supplemental material to a publication), and being available for analysis by other scholars for their own research purposes, shared data may also be used to enhance the teaching of social science methodology at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and potentially the teaching of substantive courses.
For an example of using qualitative data in the classroom, see our blogpost on how Robert Adcock (School of International Service, American University) has effectively done so to teach historical methods.
Actual research data can often be used to teach social science methods. Alternatively, you can generate and employ “pedagogical data” (stylized data specifically prepared to maximize student engagement with, and focus their attention on, the methods being taught). An example of a collection of data and materials that can be used for teaching purposes can be found here.
Using pedagogical data in the classroom improves teaching in several ways:
- Teaching social science involves making claims about events and processes – offering interpretations, providing descriptions, and drawing causal inferences. Doing so with the support of data enriches that substantive content by adding depth, texture, and detail to those claims and by providing examples and illustrations.
- Example: the assertion that a president pursued a foreign policy with a particular goal in mind is made more evocative and powerful if a digital artefact presents that information in the president’s own voice or handwriting.
- You can also use data to more effectively teach qualitative research methods.
- In teaching methods, instructors usually point to exemplary applications of those methods in scholarship. Sharing with students the data on the basis of which the claims in such scholarship were developed elucidates the analytic techniques used to generate those claims, allowing instructors to more accurately describe the methods being taught and to better demonstrate how they work.
- Using pedagogical data allows instructors of research methods courses to adopt the highly effective teaching technique of giving students a chance to actively practice using the methods about which they are learning through applying them to real social science problems.
QDR is very interested in learning of additional examples of how shard data can be employed in the social science classroom, and in working with scholars to create pedagogical data. If you have ideas or are interested in helping with these efforts, please contact QDR.