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Sociology and anthropology briefings (C-SAP collections project)
 

Sociology and anthropology briefings (C-SAP collections project)

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This literature review was written as part of the C-SAP (Higher Education Academy's Centre for Sociology, Anthropology and Politics) project "Discovering Collections of Social Science Open Educational ...

This literature review was written as part of the C-SAP (Higher Education Academy's Centre for Sociology, Anthropology and Politics) project "Discovering Collections of Social Science Open Educational Resources". The project ran from August 2010 - August 2011 as part of Phase 2 of the HEFCE-funded Open Educational Resources (OER) programme. The programme focused in particular on issues related to the discovery and use of OER by academics and was managed jointly by the Higher Education Academy [HEA] and Joint Information Systems Committee [JISC].

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    Sociology and anthropology briefings (C-SAP collections project) Sociology and anthropology briefings (C-SAP collections project) Document Transcript

    • Sociology and Anthropology Briefings for C‐SAP (Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for Sociology, Anthropology and Politics) Collections Project Kate Orton‐Johnson (University of Edinburgh) Ian Fairweather April 2011 This content is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK:England & Wales http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ 1
    • Sociology and Anthropology Briefings by Collections Reviewers This subject briefing is part of the C-SAP "Discovering Collections of Social Science OpenEducational Resources" project which runs from August 2010 - August 2011 as part of Phase 2 of theHEFCE-funded Open Educational Resources (OER) programme. The programme focuses inparticular on issues related to the discovery and use of OER by academics and is managed jointly bythe Higher Education Academy [HEA] and Joint Information Systems Committee [JISC].Sociology briefing: Kate Orton‐Johnson For all students across the subject areas of the school (Politics, Social Anthropology, Social Policy,Sociology, Social Work, Canadian Studies, Science/Technology Studies, and South Asian Studies)methods teaching is formally core from the second year (although substantive and methodologicalteaching is not seen as a distinct or mutually exclusive as part of introductory first year teaching).In the second year the required methods course is the interdisciplinary semester-length team-taughtcourse Social and Political Enquiry. This introduces students to a range of methods, examines thepotential and problems of these methods, and helps students to think about the interpretation andanalysis of data. It focuses on a series of exemplary studies conducted by social and politicalscientists, both classic and contemporary and in each case considers how the research questionswere formulated, how these questions were addressed and answered, and how the evidence wasproduced, interpreted and evaluated, including issues of objectivity, values and policy. rd thThe core subject specific Sociology methods teaching is situated in the 3 and 4 year of the degreewith 2 compulsory courses: ‘Designing and doing social research’ and ‘Doing survey research’. Theemphasis of these courses is on students learning to do social research and assessing how wellothers have done it. ‘Designing & Doing Social Research’ offers an overview of the research processand ends with a group project. It explores issues of qualitative data analysis and introduces studentsto the principles of research design and research practicalities and ethics. ‘Doing Survey Research’focuses on the analysis of survey data and includes basic statistics and the learning of a computerpackage for the manipulation of numerical data. Analysis techniques are developed by looking atdatasets based on large-scale social surveys.In addition the Sociology project and project preparation sessions in year 4 which students arerequired to complete aim to provide a practical application of methodological skills and knowledge.This content is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK:England & Wales http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ 2
    • What do you currently know about online collections of relevance to teaching research methods? Speaking to colleagues across the school there appears to be wide variation in knowledge and use ofonline collections of teaching materials. Most colleagues I spoke with use searches of on-linemethods journals for current debates e.g.. on informed consent, ethics, research design, multi-levelmodels, although the BSA ESRC-linked Methods sites, SSRN, Soc Res Assoc (SRA) and SRU,Surrey were also cited as potential sites for research methods teaching resources.I personally also tend to use Google Scholar searcher to look for specific examples or resources inmy qualitative methods teaching and have draw on resources from the CAQDAS networkingproject http://caqdas.soc.surrey.ac.uk/ but primarily the resources I use are journal articles rather thanonline collections. Particularly in qualitative methods teaching colleagues have appear to have littleawareness of online collections and are not entirely sure what is meant by the term.ESDS was cited as a useful source of support material particularly for the workbooks that introducestudents to SPSS for Windows (v15), Stata and NESSTAR, as well as guides for weighting, analysingchange over time and working with data files (including hierarchical data, matching files and poolingdata).For colleagues teaching quantitative methods the following were listed as useful online resources forteaching:  http://www.vts.intute.ac.uk/tutorial/socialstatistics Intute web tutorial on using the web to locate social statistics, with a good page of links to sources of social statistics, as well as general advice on sources of information for academic use on the web.  http://databank.worldbank.org/ddp/home.do The world bank’s databank. It permits online tabulation and analysis of time series data by country on a number of development, economic and finance indicators.  https://oli.web.cmu.edu/openlearning/forstudents/freecourses/statistics There are two courses in this suite of open access materials provided by Carnegie Mellon University on Probability and Statistics and Statistical Reasoning. They are suitable for ‘absolute beginners’ with excellent graphics, tutorials and self test exercises. However, while they use many social science examples, they are not designed to be specific to any discipline, so that a significant proportion of the material is from a non social science context. They are not linked toThis content is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK:England & Wales http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ 3
    • data analysis software packages (such as SPSS) although students can use excel or R for the associated ‘statTutor’ exercises.  http://www.csupomona.edu/~jlkorey/POWERMUTT/faculty.html The POWERMUTT (Politically-Oriented Web-Enhanced Research Methods for Undergraduates — Topics and Tools) site is a suite of resources, based on SPSS for teaching introductory quantitative research design and analysis aimed at political science undergraduates  http://onlinestatbook.com/ Introductory online statistics textbook with simulations and self tests. There is no social science context, but the simulations are useful, for example, for demonstrating how the shape of distributions change with different means and standard deviations or how sampling distributions change with different sample sizes. There is also a Java applet allowing students to estimate regression line by eye, and have the mean square error for their estimate calculated, and compared to the minimum mean square error: useful in teaching regression.Would you tend to approach the searching and discovery of relevant online materials (defined as OER or otherwise) from a strict subject discipline approach? Most colleagues do not adhere to a strict disciplinary search for materials although sociologicallyinformed methods were prioritised. As a research driven institution there is a tendency for examplesto be drawn from lecturers own research interests and for data examples to be drawn from ongoingresearch projects (suitably anonymised etc for teaching purposes). At 1st and 2ndyear undergraduatelevel, as well as postgraduate level, there is the ongoing tension of teaching students from a range ofdisciplinary backgrounds and trying to find a balance between examples that are not so generic thatthey are not of interest to students and examples that are relevant to 1 particular subject area and notanother.Subject specific example can be extremely useful if they happen to suit the course and the teachingyou are doing on that course but sometimes generic resources can be better precisely because theyare not so limited (or limiting) in scope.Have you taken research methods resources from online sources and incorporated them into your own materials? Would you tend to develop all of your own materials ‘in‐house’? If so, why? Obviously the preference to not to re-invent the wheel with resources but the difficultly of integratingsome resources into an existing course structure, and to ensure that students perceive them ascentral and relevant in order to increase engagement with these resources, is often more work, or asThis content is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK:England & Wales http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ 4
    • much work as developing individual course examples or exercises ‘in house’. The key issues here areof granularity and adaptability – generic and subject specific resources found online are not oftenadaptable enough to be incorporated into teaching (particularly undergraduate teaching) easily orlogically and this is often the key problem or reason for lecturers not using online materials.Do you use multimedia resources in the teaching of research methods? Multimedia examples are use in teaching – my own use come particularly with postgraduate teachingof qualitative data analysis software and the need to code and analysis visual, video and web data.Do you regularly seek feedback from students about materials used to support your teaching of research methods? The main feedback mechanism is via formal course feedback evaluations questionnaires, of whichfeedback on course materials and resources used is a part.Anthropology Briefing What (briefly) is the state of teaching research methods courses in your institution/your discipline? How is it situated in your programmes Research methods courses have an ambiguous position in anthropology. Most social sciences aredefined by their subject matter and research questions and they have developed an array of methodsin order to pursue them effectively. First year anthropology students, however, are taught thatanthropology is a discipline defined by its method. The method in question being ‘participantobservation’ carried out through long term ethnographic fieldwork. This often creates the impressionthat anthropology is a discipline with only one method. Of course that would be an over-simplificationas fieldwork itself might involve the anthropologist in using a variety of techniques from surveys andinterviews to archival research the rich qualitative data generated by long-term participant observationhas to be sorted and analyzed. In fact, there is considerable discussion among anthropologists aboutfieldwork, ethnography and the writing process, but this is rarely signposted as specifically adiscussion about methods. As a result much methods teaching tends to be incorporated into coursesand where students are given specific methods teaching it is usually in courses about ‘doing fieldwork’or ‘ethnographic methods’.On the other hand, anthropology students are often required to take general social science methodscourses in order to familiarize themselves with a wider variety of social science methods, but theseThis content is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK:England & Wales http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ 5
    • are sometimes experienced as disconnected and are seen to have little relevance. Part of theproblem is that discussions about methods in anthropology often don’t make use of the sameterminology as the wider social sciences. A further complication is that anthropology is a broad field ofstudy with a number of distinct sub-disciplines. Areas such as visual anthropology, material culturestudies, biological anthropology and forensic anthropology have developed specialist researchmethods that are very different from those used in other areas. For that reason these methods tend tobe incorporated into specialist courses and course-givers rely on their own expertise or on theliterature specific to the sub-disciplinesAt Manchester anthropology is located in the School of Social Sciences alongside sociology, politics,philosophy, economics and social statistics. The school sits within the broader faculty of humanities.Teaching research methods takes place in all disciplines for undergraduates from 1st year onwardsand the majority is delivered within disciplines. The situation is slightly different for students takingcross disciplinary degree programmes. The largest of these is the BA (Economic and Social Studies)degree run by the School of Social Sciences and Manchester Business School. This programmeoffers 29 different combinations covering Accounting, Business Studies, Development Studies,Finance, Economic and Social History, Economic Studies, Politics, Social Anthropology, Criminologyand Sociology. In the first year of the degree all students follow a general and broad programme ofstudy which includes Economics, Politics, the Social Sciences and either Quantitative Methods orSocial Research Methods, depending on intended area of specialization. First year anthropologyundergraduates take the social research methods course.For postgraduates there is a combination of disciplinary methods teaching and cross school or crossfaculty provision. As well as discipline specific methods courses PGR students are required to choose3 introductory 5-credit methods modules from a list that includes both qualitative and quantitativemethods. An important development in the last few years has been the cross faculty researchmethods centre methods@manchester to provide methods training and promote interdisciplinary andinnovative methodological developments. As well as promoting and facilitating methods-relatedevents across the university methods@manchester offers an annual competition to fund methods-related activities that promote interdisciplinary, innovation.http://www.methods.manchester.ac.uk/What do you currently know about online collections of relevance to teaching research methods? Most of what I know about online methods collections comes from working with C-SAP ormethods@manchester and would not necessarily have been obvious to lecturers in anthropology. Mysense is that there is a wide variation in colleagues’ awareness of and use of online methodsThis content is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK:England & Wales http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ 6
    • resources. In particular, those colleagues who are involved ion teaching cross disciplinary methodscourses, or courses devoted to ethnographic methods are more likely to use online collections whilstthose who incorporate methods discussion into otherwise theoretical courses are more likely to usepublished material from the anthropological literature, especially journals and textbooks. Anthropologyis largely qualitative and anthropology student’s exposure to quantitative methods is most likely totake place in cross-disciplinary courses.The Association of Social Anthropologists web site http://www.theasa.org/links.shtml provides astatement on ethics and links to databases and journals which colleagues might use to search fordiscipline specific methods resources. Similarly the Royal Anthropological Institutewebsite http://www.therai.org.uk/ hosts ‘Anthropological Index Online’, an online bibliography ofanthropology-related journals held in the Centre for Anthropology at the British Museum, London. TheAmerican Anthropological Association website http://www.aaanet.org/index.cfm hosts ‘AnthroNotes’ Abiannual, free, 20-page publication providing lead articles on current anthropological research,teaching activities and strategies, and reviews of teaching resources. Most colleagues would also useGoogle Scholar to search for resources and many are aware of the C-SAP website and the Intutedatabase as a source for methods teaching resources, especially those looking for resources that arenot anthropology specific. Colleagues are more likely to be aware of resources centrally developedwithin their institution such as the methods@manchester resource.Would you tend to approach the searching and discovery of relevant online materials (defined as OER or otherwise) from a strict subject discipline approach? As I teach two explicitly cross-disciplinary methods courses it is necessary to use either genericresources or resources from a number of different disciplines so I am often looking for non disciplinespecific, or non anthropology methods resources and I find searching for online resources to be aparticularly useful way to do this because I can search by topic or keyword rather than having to wadethrough unfamiliar journals or rely on textbooks. My sense, however, is that colleagues incorporatingmethods teaching into anthropology course are more likely to look for specifically anthropologyresources or use examples from their own work. Students seeking methods resources for themselvesare also likely to look for discipline specific resources. I think part of the reason for this is the differentterminologies used so that students and teachers feel more comfortable with resources from their owndiscipline.This content is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK:England & Wales http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ 7
    • Have you taken research methods resources from online sources and incorporated them into your own materials? When I first began teaching methods I relied more on textbook, but I am increasingly looking for waysto incorporate online material. I am moving towards a more enquiry-based learning approach tomethods teaching and online resources are more engaging and accessible to students thantextbooks. However the advantage of developing resources in-house is greater control over whatstudents are using. Just pointing students to online resources is often insufficient as they needcontextual information in order to perceive the resources as relevant.Do you use multimedia resources in the teaching of research methods? Increasingly so. Student engagement with methods teaching is notoriously low and in order toimprove this I think it is necessary to provide students with opportunities for a variety of ‘hands on’experience of methods. Multimedia resources help to achieve this.Do you regularly seek feedback from students about materials used to support your teaching of research methods? Feedback is through formal student evaluation procedures at the end of the course and informalquestionnaires halfway through. I hope to incorporate a more reflective element into my courseswhich would provide more ongoing feedbackThis content is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK:England & Wales http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ 8