Editorial: Teaching research methods better? Or research methods for better teaching?

Ferrie, J. , Forrest, C. and Spreckelsen, T. (2023) Editorial: Teaching research methods better? Or research methods for better teaching? Open Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 2(2), i-vii. (doi: 10.56230/osotl.71)

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This special issue invited papers relating either to the pedagogy of research practice, or how we can harness methods, methodologies and research design to better evaluate our teaching. In essence, the paper was derived from personal struggles to find a home for such work within a world-leading research university that was structured around disciplines and the teaching of substantive topics, and around research careers. The editing team for this special edition teach courses which sit alongside this disciplinary structure: teaching either research methods courses spanning a School made up of six disciplines, or across a College made up of five schools and many hundreds of students; or skills-based courses on journalism practice within subject or School-wide media courses. Each of the editors are on learning and teaching contracts despite all being actively involved in research. This is an example of neoliberal management decision-making, a decision that disappears our potential to be recognised as researchers because there is so much teaching for us to do. Within our institution there has been growing investment in research methods teaching teams, just as there has been growing investment and recognition of colleagues on the learning and teaching track. The investment is slow and often concentrated on early career scholars meaning there are leadership vacuums in the ‘middle’ of the institution. Our overarching university structures have created barriers to the building of communities of practice in research methods or learning and teaching. This journal is something of a beacon and its ethos of critical development of scholarship and of scholars attracted our attention. Early conversations with the oSoTL editors Nathalie Tasler, Matthew Barr, and Vicki Dale, helped us consider what a useful contribution could be. We had a strong desire to expose how tough some things are and how welcome the solidarity found within communities of practice is. Teaching students to develop their research practice is tough. The scholarship of learning and teaching (SoTL) in this field is relatively new and has focused predominantly on the teaching of numeric data, an area also sometimes known as ‘quantitative methods’ and ‘computational social sciences.’ The difficulty of teaching in this field is fuelled both by the resistance shown by students: on maths anxiety (Williams, Payne, Hodgkinson, & Poade, 2008); on fear of numbers (Scott Jones & Goldring, 2015); on anxiety and devaluing of courses that receive mixed student feedback (Scott Jones & Goldring, 2014); on the devaluing of high value, rather than enjoyable learning (Ryan, Saunders, Rainsford, & Thompson, 2014); and on managers resisting adequate time to learn methods because they’re perceived as unpopular (MacInnes, 2010). Significant social science investment in Q-Step Centres across the UK (over £20million into 17 centres) demonstrated a different ‘way’ was possible. Significant outputs including writing on embedding methods in substantive learning (Buckley, Brown, Thomson, Olsen, & Carter, 2015; Technopolis, 2022) were produced by Q-Step teams, adding to a growing literature on pedagogy and methods. Most of the literature in the teaching of numeric data is published in journals which examine advances in methodologies rather than in dedicated SoTL journals, and so it can be difficult to find for those coming with pedagogic concerns.

Item Type:Articles (Editorial)
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Ferrie, Dr Jo and Spreckelsen, Dr Thees and Forrest, Miss Catriona
Authors: Ferrie, J., Forrest, C., and Spreckelsen, T.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Journal Name:Open Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
Publisher:Open Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
ISSN (Online):2752-4116
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2023 Jo Ferrie, Catriona Forrest, Thees Spreckelsen
First Published:First published in Open Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons license

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