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The pedagogy of social science research methods textbooks: a scoping study

The pedagogy of social science research methods textbooks: a scoping study
The pedagogy of social science research methods textbooks: a scoping study
There is a lack of pedagogic culture underpinning the teaching and learning of research methods within the social sciences. Contemporary research explores both teaching and learning practices and the pedagogical challenges of research methods teaching. As part of this, however, it is necessary to also consider the role of pedagogic resources, specifically research methods textbooks. This study aimed to explore the pedagogical devices employed in leading research methods textbooks, identify the explicit pedagogies embodied within the textbooks, and examine how textbooks foster support for experiential aspects of methods teaching and learning. The research comprises a literature review of 30 leading social science research methods textbooks. Our sample recognises a spread of qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods books by single authors or small authorial teams. Books were drawn from all social science disciplines and identified on the basis of: i) authorship by pedagogic leaders ii) citation as a signifier of impact, iii) revision through multiple editions, iv) current course collections and reading lists v) sustained sales and 'bestseller' status. Textbooks were reviewed according to an iteratively-developed analytic template. In our data collection and analysis, an array in-text pedagogical devices were observed to connect learners to research and spur active learning. Experiential learning is gestured to, through voicing of authorial experience and connection to real-world cases and data. Functionally, we find the pedagogies of textbooks are used as a vehicle to effect the pedagogical content knowledge that is characteristic of methodological teaching. The importance of engaging multiple perspectives to model different approaches to methods, and expose the ‘messy reality’ of methods practices is also pertinent. For example, Strauss & Corbin’s (2015) use of ‘insider insights’ from guest authors in the field, or Field’s (2017) use of personas to voice questions and insights. The use of standpoints and situated perspectives are deployed alongside reflexive tasks and activities. Many authors are explicit about their pedagogies, discussing how their book might be read or applied by different audiences, gesturing to how research, teaching and authorial roles blur and how they have engaged students’ learning experiences to develop their materials across editions. There is a significant discourse within the field that holds that many methods cannot be taught in theory, expressing the tension between the abstract and the applied signature pedagogies of research methods. In short, the pedagogies of learning-by-doing, and associated experiential pedagogies are deemed essential. Our findings suggest that authors work creatively to address this perceived divide. As research councils seek to answer the demands of the knowledge economy, pedagogy can be occluded by discourses of training and capacity building. In response, we sought to spur pedagogic dialogue. We argue for sustained attention to the pedagogies of research methods, through research that seeks to develop and enrich the pedagogical culture of this emerging field.
textbook research, textbook analysis, textbook comparison, textbook, social science research methods education, textbook pedagogy
Society for Research in Higher Education
Lewthwaite, Sarah
0e26d7cf-8932-4d65-8fea-3dceacf0ea88
Holmes, Michelle, Marie
83deb057-57c5-48ec-a140-317676865ed8
Lewthwaite, Sarah
0e26d7cf-8932-4d65-8fea-3dceacf0ea88
Holmes, Michelle, Marie
83deb057-57c5-48ec-a140-317676865ed8

Lewthwaite, Sarah and Holmes, Michelle, Marie (2018) The pedagogy of social science research methods textbooks: a scoping study Society for Research in Higher Education 31pp.

Record type: Monograph (Project Report)

Abstract

There is a lack of pedagogic culture underpinning the teaching and learning of research methods within the social sciences. Contemporary research explores both teaching and learning practices and the pedagogical challenges of research methods teaching. As part of this, however, it is necessary to also consider the role of pedagogic resources, specifically research methods textbooks. This study aimed to explore the pedagogical devices employed in leading research methods textbooks, identify the explicit pedagogies embodied within the textbooks, and examine how textbooks foster support for experiential aspects of methods teaching and learning. The research comprises a literature review of 30 leading social science research methods textbooks. Our sample recognises a spread of qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods books by single authors or small authorial teams. Books were drawn from all social science disciplines and identified on the basis of: i) authorship by pedagogic leaders ii) citation as a signifier of impact, iii) revision through multiple editions, iv) current course collections and reading lists v) sustained sales and 'bestseller' status. Textbooks were reviewed according to an iteratively-developed analytic template. In our data collection and analysis, an array in-text pedagogical devices were observed to connect learners to research and spur active learning. Experiential learning is gestured to, through voicing of authorial experience and connection to real-world cases and data. Functionally, we find the pedagogies of textbooks are used as a vehicle to effect the pedagogical content knowledge that is characteristic of methodological teaching. The importance of engaging multiple perspectives to model different approaches to methods, and expose the ‘messy reality’ of methods practices is also pertinent. For example, Strauss & Corbin’s (2015) use of ‘insider insights’ from guest authors in the field, or Field’s (2017) use of personas to voice questions and insights. The use of standpoints and situated perspectives are deployed alongside reflexive tasks and activities. Many authors are explicit about their pedagogies, discussing how their book might be read or applied by different audiences, gesturing to how research, teaching and authorial roles blur and how they have engaged students’ learning experiences to develop their materials across editions. There is a significant discourse within the field that holds that many methods cannot be taught in theory, expressing the tension between the abstract and the applied signature pedagogies of research methods. In short, the pedagogies of learning-by-doing, and associated experiential pedagogies are deemed essential. Our findings suggest that authors work creatively to address this perceived divide. As research councils seek to answer the demands of the knowledge economy, pedagogy can be occluded by discourses of training and capacity building. In response, we sought to spur pedagogic dialogue. We argue for sustained attention to the pedagogies of research methods, through research that seeks to develop and enrich the pedagogical culture of this emerging field.

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Published date: 21 June 2018
Keywords: textbook research, textbook analysis, textbook comparison, textbook, social science research methods education, textbook pedagogy

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Local EPrints ID: 422903
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/422903
PURE UUID: 928ea2c2-a359-4fbc-aebb-3ab2407abc78
ORCID for Sarah Lewthwaite: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-4480-3705

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Date deposited: 07 Aug 2018 16:31
Last modified: 06 Aug 2020 01:41

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