Newcastle University

Event: Investigating pedagogy in research methods

Melanie Nind, Visiting Professor, Newcastle University
Thursday 2 April, 12.00-13.00, room 2.22 Research Beehive

For information about attending, contact: Alina Schartner

How social science researchers learn social research methods is not something that is well-understood. Hence, in research I am leading for the National Centre for Research Methods, one of the fundamental questions we are exploring is how teachers of research methods develop and use their pedagogical knowledge for developing the methodological learning of others. Our funding body, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), has been concerned enough about the UK’s social science research global competitiveness to make capacity building in methods the focus of major investment for the last decade. This marks a shift from the UK model in which doctoral researchers have largely learned through apprenticeship and supervision only. Yet the upsurge in taught courses and formal training in advanced research methods has not, to date, been informed by pedagogical evidence on how to approach this. Discourses are developing about doctoral education and about training and capacity building, but the latter in particular has had virtually no pedagogic space, with the talk largely limited to deficits in skills or capacities and finding effective modes of delivery. Our research is intended to create dialogue between teachers of research methods, those concerned with providing and guiding advanced methods training, methodology researchers and learners of research methods. We are moving the evidence base from the current dominance of in-house action research, evaluations or case studies of particular cohorts, contexts or challenges. Instead, we are engaging participants from across disciplines, organizations and methods in a multi-component research design. This comprises an expert panel method, video stimulated recall and reflection focus groups, learner journeys, and case studies of pedagogical and methodological innovation. In the paper, I will share some of these methods and what the pilot one-year project has indicated is distinctive about the teaching and learning of research methods and warranting further attention.