Some researchers come to call: Researching the teaching and learning of advanced and innovative social science methods

Author: Melanie Nind, University of Southampton

At the MODE Seminar on Multimodal Transcription on 17 October, there were 3 extra learners in the room – Rose Wiles, Daniel Kilburn and I – all from the hub of NCRM. While we learned a lot about multimodal transcription while we were there, this was not our primary purpose. We were present to learn about how advanced and innovative social science research methods are being taught and learned.  This meant that we made observational field notes, video recorded the session and engaged a good group of volunteers in a post-session group interview supported by some video stimulated recall.

The research is funded by NCRM, where a core strand of our work is building capacity among the social science research community to develop and apply advanced research methods. Building that capacity requires effective dissemination, training/teaching and learning; it may also require some innovation in the ways in which methods are taught and learned. The research literature on the pedagogy associated with research methods is mainly focused on undergraduate or postgraduate programmes and the curricular and organizational rather than pedagogic challenges. We are now working towards gaining better understanding of the distinctive pedagogical demands of teaching advanced social science research methods and responses to those demands. We are interested in methods teachers’/trainers’ knowledge of methods (‘know-what’) and how this translates into a form that will enable others to comprehend and be able to use them (‘know-how’).  An interesting question is whether innovation in research methods demands innovation in teaching and learning methods.

Our research methods include generating data through discussion with specialists in research methods and methods teaching, and looking at what happens in methods training sessions like this one on multimodal transcription. We are seeking to involve methods teachers and learners with us in the project, in which we are all stakeholders to some degree. On this occasion we found great willingness to reflect with us about how this particular subject matter and one day seminar format was being tackled pedagogically, and how it fits within a wider profile of teaching and learning experience. Of course we were attuned to the multimodal aspects too. So a good deal was learned and we will be collaborating with Mode researchers on interpreting the findings.




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