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Event: British Educational Research Association

On Thursday 15th September, Debbie Collins will be presenting her doctoral research on technology and research methods pedagogy at the British Educational Research Associate (BERA) conference, 2016 at the University of Leeds, UK. Her paper ‘In search of a social science research methods pedagogy for the digital era‘ will be delivered in a morning session focused on Research Methodology in Education. The abstract follows:

In search of a social science research methods pedagogy for the digital era

The teaching and learning of social science research methods in the UK is of growing importance. Several high-profile capacity-building initiatives have been launched in recent years by research funders aimed at improving the skills of post graduate and undergraduates and strengthening the competitiveness of the UK’s knowledge economy. However authors such as Earley (2014) and Kilburn, Nind and Wiles (2014) note that the pedagogy of SRM is an under-developed area and call for further research. One response to this gap is the ESRC NCRM-funded ‘Pedagogy of Methodological Learning’ project, which aims to support capacity building and facilitate methodological innovation.  This paper is one output from this research and is concerned with the use of technology in the teaching and learning of advanced research methods.

The paper draws on findings of a rigorous thematic analysis of recent literature on the teaching and learning of SRM within a range of contexts (undergraduate/post graduate, short courses, on-line, blended learning, traditional face-to-face) and disciplines within the social sciences, including education. A broad definition of ‘technology use’ is employed, including not only those technologies that come under the umbrella of digital enhanced learning (e.g. VLEs, social networking, online collaboration and assessment and publishing tools), but also digital tools used when undertaking research, such as data collection and analysis tools. Adopting this broad definition is, in part, a response to the paucity of literature on this topic, but it also allows for consideration of how research methods teaching and learning may change in response to the emergence of new software and online research tools.

This paper describes the context within which technology is being used in the teaching of SRM and considers:

  • What factors influence the choice of technology, for example was this a conscious choice, rooted in pedagogical goals or opportunistic?
  • Whether there is any evidence that technology is enhancing or changing the ways in which the teaching and learning of research methods are taking place?
  • How technology is supporting / developing the learning of research methods?

The paper will highlight gaps in our knowledge and plans to address these through the ESRC NCRM research programme.


Earley, M.A. (2014) “A synthesis of the literature on research methods education”. Teaching in Higher Education. 19 (3): 242–253

Kilburn, D., Nind, M., Wiles, R. (2014) “Learning as Researchers and Teachers: the development of a pedagogical culture for social science research methods?” British Journal of Educational Studies. 62 (2): 191-207.