In June 2012 HEA Social Sciences held its first learning and teaching summit, which focused on teaching research methods in the Social Sciences. In December 2012 we commissioned 11 projects that were designed to explore further the issues identified at the summit.
This project aimed to investigate research methods teaching across a range of social science disciplines, working primarily through the established Academic Partnerships network of 16 colleges linked to Plymouth University, and making use of additional links with other partnership networks nationally with contrasting student demographics, vocational/academic focus and geographical characteristics.
An important aspect of the conceptualisation of this research was the desire to generate a greater understanding of the skills gaps for both staff and students within the contexts of these partnership networks, which could feed into capacity-building programmes and staff development. The project explores issues central to curriculum and pedagogic innovation and engagement with particular identified areas of concern, such as the quantitative methods deficit observed within the literature (MacInnes 2010; British Academy 2012). It aims to make a substantive contribution to understanding this issue within further education (FE) colleges teaching higher education (HE), and also to contribute to the debate on the effective development of a pedagogy of research methods teaching and research-informed teaching (RIT) within college-based HE settings.
The project objectives were to:
- map current research methods provision and topics within a range of Social Science programmes;
- identify areas of commonality for generic research methods provision against the requirements for embedded research methods delivery;
- ascertain student confidence in qualitative and quantitative methods and analysis; and
- identify potential skills gaps and developmental needs for the continuing professional development of FE/HE staff.