OER14 homeApplication › Dr Jackie Carter

The void for quantitative social science teaching: is sharing OER enough?

Tuesday 14:30-15:00 (1), Darwin Suite

Type: Lightning talk

Theme: Academic practice, development and pedagogy

http://www.socialsciences.manchester.ac.uk/essted/ #oer14 #abs39


Dr Mark Brown, Senior Lecturer, University of Manchester, [email protected]
Dr Wendy Olsen, Senior Lecturer, University of Manchester, [email protected]
Jen Buckley, PhD student, University of Manchester, [email protected]


In 2013 at The Campaign for Social Science event, David Willetts, Minister for Higher Education and Skills pronounced in a world of increasing volume of social data there is an urgent need to “have properly qualified people to exploit and use the data. At present we have a serious shortage of social science graduates with the right quantitative skills to evaluate evidence and analyse data.”

This is not a new finding. Significant and shared efforts in the last decade have resulted in a large, national initiative being funded to tackle this problem in the UK, through a Programme called Q-Step (Nuffield 2013). In 2012 the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded 20 projects through their Curriculum Innovation and Researcher Development Initiative to 'upskill' social science undergraduates. The authors are involved with two ongoing projects under these initiatives, brought together under the banner 'Enriching Social Science Teaching with Empirical Data' (ESSTED, 2013).

This lightning talk will highlight the void in teaching quantitative social science, and show how we have addressed the challenge of embedding number into the social science curriculum. A variety of techniques have been adopted and trialled; using real world survey data in the classroom alongside making students part of the dataset; flipping lectures; adopting the mantra of ‘practice’ for what is a real-world and employable skill. The talk will present the approach taken by the ESSTED team, mindful that this is a project still very much in development.

Underpinning all ESSTED's work is a desire to share, to help contribute to the community of teachers who are grappling with this national issue. The question 'is sharing the OER enough?' has vexed the team throughout. The talk will demonstrate the many other resources we are sharing openly alongside the teaching resources - talking heads, briefing papers, invited talks and participation in workshops. It's not just about the practice by the students in the classroom, if open education is to grow and thrive in the teaching of quantitative social sciences there needs to be sharing of good teaching practice.

Deeper issues will also be raised by the talk. How can multiple small projects share resources to best effect? How do institutions collaborate when they see themselves in competition for the same students? How might we encourage sharing when the critical review of resources on the open web can be so discouraging for individuals?

Results, based on evidence collated, and conclusions based on the ESSTED project's experiences two-thirds of the way through its life will be presented, and ideas about how this is feeding into the University of Manchester's Q-Step centre will be shared.


Nuffield, 2013, Nuffield Foundation Q-Step programme. Available from: http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/q-step. [Accessed 26 November 2013].
ESSTED, 2013 Enriching Social Science teaching with Empirical Data. Available from: http://www.socialsciences.manchester.ac.uk/essted/index.html . [Accessed 26 November 2013].

Funding acknowledgements

ESRC Funding for Researcher Development Initiative ESSTED bid


Recap recording


Further details

Keywords: quantitative social science, ESRC, Researcher development initiative, statistics, embedding, undergraduates, teaching

Website: http://www.socialsciences.manchester.ac.uk/essted/

Dr Jackie Carter, University of Manchester Q-Step Co-director, University of Manchester

Twitter: @JackieCarter

Twitter abstract: 'We become aware of the void as we fill it'. (Porchia, 1885). Discuss in the context of OER.