What students need to know and do
Build an understanding and skills in sociological research design and methodology. First year students should be introduced to the purposes of research, the major research paradigms, how research is structured and why research is so important to the discipline.
Student barriers to learning
Students may find research design and methods technical and demanding and may not understand their use and relevance in the real world.
Our teaching strategies
Introduce and build specific research skills in a cumulative and scaffolded approach and linked to “live” real world examples and issues. (Hostak, Girouard, Cunningham & Cadge, 2010); Pfeffer & Rogalin, 2012):
- Cumulatively scaffold and model the elements of research design and process, from developing and operationalizing research questions and their theoretical contexts, to methodology and methods, data collection, analysis and interpretation, in relation to concrete projects, including teachers” and students” own projects;
- Develop students’ library and research skills and teach them where to find and how to recognize good quality research in sociology;
- Develop students’ capacity to see how pervasive research is about sociological issues and how it is reported (for example, documentaries, shock jocks, etc);
- Incorporate case studies of how sociological research is used across a range of public and private sector jobs;
- Use guest speakers/films of quantitative and qualitative research being done in the field across different areas;
- Provide students with models/examplars of qualitative and quantitative research (your own if possible);
- Give students small “taster” research tasks to tackle – observation, interviews, mini-surveys;
- Introduce a topic and provide data. Ask students what data tell us about the topic;
- Gradually give students the freedom to design and carry out their own limited research projects;
- Build in research projects to placement and community engagement curricula;
- Discuss case studies of research ethics abuses to drive home the importance of ethics.
Hostak, S., Girouard, J., Cunningham, D. & Cadge, W. (2010). Teaching graduate and undergraduate research methods: a multipronged departmental initiative, Teaching Sociology, 38(2), 93-105.
Pfeffer, C. & Rogalin, C. (2012). Three strategies for teaching research methods: a case study, Teaching Sociology, 40(4), 368-376.