Mimas Manager, Social Science Data and Learning & Teaching Services Mimas
University of Manchester
This session focuses on a project with a goal of producing some evidence of how faculty use real world data resources, and the impact on student learning. There is concern about levels of data and statistical literacy skills of social science students in the United Kingdom (UK), even though the cutting edge of social science is reliant on use of real world data sets, and there is a great desire to improve research-led teaching in the area. The project collates the experience of attempts to increase the skills of students in data and its discipline-related usage, and provides an illustration of educational practice at both discipline and national level. The case studies (stories) showcase attempts to make learning and teaching about and with data a less passive and more marketable experience.
The UK national data centers provide access to a wealth of social science data – provided by national census agencies, and inter governmental organizations including the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United Nations (UN), and the World Bank – for undergraduate and postgraduate study. Students often avoid handling and discussing data in their study unless forced to confront it. The challenge for educators lies in promoting students’ use of data, but the benefits in doing so improve both academic performance and job prospects for students.
National services are required to collate and report data about usage (Web logs, numbers of users, institutions etc). In contrast, this project set out to explore the narratives associated with teaching use of the data. This was undertaken in the context of national funding agencies seeking to explore the impact of their investments, as well as the presence of a strong driver in the UK to increase statistical and data literacy in general, and quantitative methods skills in particular. The result of the project is a rich set of information that can be used to provide evidence to our stakeholders of the value added nature of the networked services we provide.
Handout Pg. 2 (PDF)