About X4L SDiT


Original Bid

Web-based Political Science Teaching and Learning Resources

Teaching and Learning Resource (TLR) Version 2.0

Original Bid

Aims, objectives and key deliverables
Development of Learning and Teaching Materials
Consultation and Evalulation
Dissemination Plans
Project Partners
Exit Strategy
Proposed Module for HE


In response to this call for X4L, the following proposal aims to conduct a feasibility study to make use of real life data resources in the classroom. The resources that will be created aim to transfer key skills (at HE and FE levels) in the understanding and appreciation of statistical data and analysis as they relate to substantive issues.

Through a number of strategic investments by both the JISC and the ESRC, the UK academic community has access to a unique and expansive range of digital data resources. The UK Data Archive (UKDA) acquires, disseminates, preserves, and promotes the largest collection of digital data in the social sciences and humanities in the United Kingdom. Its primary aim is to support secondary use of quantitative and qualitative data for research and learning. Whilst individual datasets are used extensively in academic research they are significantly under used in learning and teaching programmes within Higher Education, and rarely used in Further Education. As a national JISC Service provider the UKDA is in a strong position to offer its resources to the learning and teaching communities for developing packaged resources. In turn it needs the advice and input from instructors in the classroom on how to re-purpose and apply the content. The UKDA has never had the necessary resources to be able to explore how to best foster its relationship with tutors in HE or FE so as to maximise the use of data in mainstream teaching. In particular there is considerable scope for increasing use of specially tailored teaching datasets and associated online learning materials within the FE sector. The lessons learnt in the context of this pilot project will feed into the JISC broader strategy on how the DNER can best be exploited by this 'new' sector.

The report of a recent JISC Task Force on The Use of Numeric Data in Learning and Teaching began as follows:

An enquiry into the use of numeric datasets in learning and teaching within UK higher education, sponsored by the JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee), has been looking into barriers faced by post- and undergraduate teachers who wish to introduce students to the use of empirical datasets in the classroom.

UK higher education is rich in numeric datasets. In the socio-economic field, for example, there are large-scale government surveys (e.g. the General Household Surveys), current and historical population censuses, international studies, academic studies, economic time series, and geographic data. These numeric data are disseminated in ways that support the work of many academic researchers, including some postgraduate students.

However, these data resources are under-used in the learning and teaching environment. Despite potential gains in numeracy, critical use of evidence, and empirically-grounded knowledge by students conducting data analysis at both the postgraduate and undergraduate levels, obstacles exist that make integration of numeric data resources into coursework difficult. As expectations about use of information technology in learning and teaching rise, the barriers which inhibit the use of this wealth of data in the classroom and in student projects need to be lowered. (Rice et al, 2001)

The benefits of working with real life data sources are significant. These include understanding how statistics are created, how published election tables are interpreted and how to begin to manipulate and analyse data. Not only does practical knowledge about survey methods and secondary analysis teach students how research is actually conducted, but it informs critical assessment of arguments based on the interpretation of survey data. Students will also gain a tangible and marketable skill that they can use in future employment. HEFCE, ESRC and JISC widely recognise that the skills shortage for quantitative analysis is now critical, and introducing such concepts early on in post-16 education is one way to address the concerns of that Task Force and redress this shortage.

This project will draw together a small team of academics, teachers and data archivists/disseminators in order to create and pilot new data-driven resources. The small-scale set of online learning objects teaching materials to be developed will be based upon British Election Study data which provide a unique source of information for students wishing to explore a range of contemporary political issues in Britain. The proposal is aimed at first year undergraduate and 'A' level or equivalent FE courses in political science, but could be extended more generically to all introductory social studies courses. The resources will be piloted and evaluated in an HE University course and an FE 'A' level course.

By using the British Election Survey as its data base, the Britain and Politics module will also "deliver" a unique learning experience to the student. The British Election Surveys provide a unique source of information for students wishing to explore a range of contemporary political issues in Britain. This project has chosen the field of political science for three reasons. First that the UKDA holds some well regarded sources of data, most notably the British Election Surveys, of which the UKDA has acquired the full series back to 1963. As well as being accessible through the UKDA's online ordering system, these data are also accessible through the UKDA online dissemination system, NESSTAR, in which the UKDA has invested considered resources. Secondly and perhaps most important for the X4L projects is that the academic HE partner on this proposal has taught introductory undergraduate political science courses at Essex for some years, making use of survey data and analysis. Finally, since the UKDA has only recently begun to explore the world of FE, our existing links with the local Sixth Form College can be exploited. The University also has a formal partnership with Southend College which we could tap into further. It is therefore possible to co-operate with some or all of these organisations for developing and piloting materials in an 'A' level politics course or equivalent. The team would expect to consult further with BECTA on FE pedagogy and resource delivery via the JISC X4L programme.

This work will also result in a published and informative report describing the implementation of a customised set of modules or learning objects, based on existing JISC content, into selected HE and FE courses. Furthermore, the project will demonstrate how discrete 'chunks' of learning materials could be preserved and disseminated in a wider national context, so that other teachers can go on to use them or build upon them. It is hoped that this will contribute to the learning pool that will aid JISC in its X4L mission and ongoing strategy.

A further related outcome could be an increase in use of the survey data held at the UKDA in the learning and teaching arenas by improving accessibility to the primary data resources, by improving awareness of UKDA resource discovery tools and of its intuitive online data system, NESSTAR (NESSTAR 2001).

The project will begin in January 2003 and run for 16 months until April 2004.

Aims, objectives and key deliverables

The immediate aim of the project is:

The key objectives are:

The key deliverables of the project will be:

These deliverables are set out in more details and broken down by work package in Appendix 4.

The proposed developments and outputs are intrinsically linked and will ensure that class-based students gain a better understanding and knowledge of the nature, context, extraction, manipulation, visualisation, statistical analysis and interpretation of key social science data sources in political science. These skills must be grounded in substantive and intellectual reasoning in relation to the taught subject or curriculum. One further outcome is that the resource will encourage an easier route to accessing data, metadata, learning materials, and data exploration/visualisation tools, and thereby encourage student-centred learning and the development of appropriate skills for undertaking project based work. The resource could also be used for distance learning although this aspect is not considered specifically in the context of this proposal.

The learning and teaching resource(s) will be made available via the UKDA Web site. To facilitate wider resource discovery and increased use, the learning and teaching materials should be IMS compliant and the metadata held in a Z39.50 or OAIS compliant metadata database. Although this proposal does not consider in detail resource discovery matters for these resources, guidance will be sought from the JISC X4L team to discuss issues of metadata creation and how this relates to the 'development bay' proposed as part of the X4L programme. The UKDA has experience of working with IMS standards as part of its contribution to a current 5/99 JISC project, in building a cross-searchable metadata database for the CHCC and related learning and teaching materials.

Development of Learning and Teaching Materials

Overview of the pedagogical content

The JISC Task Force on The Use of Numeric Data in the Class Room survey of how quantitative data is currently used in the classroom gives some valuable insights and evidence into tutors teaching use of this type of information, as well as what are the barriers that hinder the adoption of data by those instructors who have not added this dimension to their teaching (Rice et al. 2001). The survey looked at when and how data were used in the classroom, thereby providing a recent overview of the pedagogical issues that underlie the rationale for this X4L project. Half of the lecturers who responded who did use data in their teaching used them 'to add an empirical dimension to the subject' and 'to teach statistics or data analysis methods', whilst a third also used data 'to teach numeracy or critical thinking skills'. In other words, the main focus was on using data to teach research methods. Very few used 'live' social data to illustrate substance. The project we propose here is to redress this failure.

The barriers cited are largely to do with lack of awareness of data sources, the lack of time available to prepare data and build its use into the course, and finally the lack of easy access to data both physically and conceptually. Taking the first point, when asked whether they had ever used or considered using national data services (eg The UK Data Archive, EDINA, MIMAS) to access numeric data for learning and teaching purposes only a quarter of respondents had. And in relation to preparation, over half of the lecturers in the survey reported that preparing data for teaching (mostly for methods courses) was a great burden. Finally regarding accessibility barriers, lecturers felt that data registration procedures were overly complex and that there was a lack of relevant datasets available specifically for teaching purposes.

This proposal offers a way to overcome these barriers. Re-purposing complex data is one way of opening up its accessibility. Training students (and teachers!) to conceptualise the characteristics of quantitative data so that they can be used to support substantive arguments is also essential for meaningful access to this kind of material. Ready-made 'chunks' of learning materials can be tried and tested by the tutor and incorporated into their teaching in a flexible way.

Finally, the need for promoting data awareness is clear, which could be done if the resource proposed here were to be promoted via the NLN and via wider publicity for a web-site trial and a number of information-providing workshops.

A key element of this proposal is the development of 'modules' of learning and teaching materials that can be used in the classroom but also have wider applicability as exploratory an on-line resource for student use and self-directed learning. The modules for HE and FE will be authored and piloted primarily by the lecturers responsible for teaching the appropriate courses in political science. This proposal considers it important that the pegagogists drive the content of the resource which should then be 'translated' to UKDA project staff who will be responsible for extracting the teaching datsets, writing the NESSTAR user guides and designing and building the web interface (and CD-ROM) for the materials. Moreover the experience of working so closely with tutors means that a closer relationship with students can be formed, who can provide rich feedback. Moreover, the pedagogical aspects of the resource creation and implementation can be documented in the teachers's guides and the final project report.

Existing online teaching resources and the DNER

There are very few widely accessible discrete modules of teaching and learning materials that are based on existing data resources in the field of social science in the UK. The JISC CHCC programme and the recent pilot work for the National Learning Network are the first tranche of initiatives that are co-ordinated attempts to provide resources of relevance to the social sciences, that go beyond merely providing resource discovery. These resources should be expected to benefit those teaching at both HE and FE levels. The field of political science is particularly sparse in this respect, yet the SOSIG site lists a huge range of internet-based resources in the discipline. Similarly the excellent Virtual Training Suite provides a good introduction to web-based resources but does not link to any freely or easily accessible data-centred resources. The VTS is also not yet being exploited by lecturers or teachers to its full capacity. There is ample opportunity for the web-based project proposed here to provide reciprocal links and promotion to these under-exploited RDN resources.

The TRaMSS (TRaMMS 2000) hosted by the UKDA site provides on-line training materials for social scientists. The materials are based around substantive research questions in the areas of health, education, migration and life course modelling. The site shows how to search the UK Data Archive online catalogue to locate relevant data sets and provides tutorials showing how to analyse the data. The analysis software can be downloaded, at no cost, from the TRaMSS web site. The target audience for this resource was social science researchers and also teachers of quantitative social science postgraduate courses. Significant usability testing was conducted and whilst the resource is helpful for a limited statistically and technically competent audience, the complex analytic techniques employed in this resource (multilevel modelling and event history analysis) mean that it is not suitable for introductory courses in applied statistics or data analysis.

Data resources relating to political science

The UKDA holds the complete series of the British Election Study (BES) series that constitutes the longest-running academic time series in the social sciences. The surveys are designed to understand how and why people vote in the way they do and have taken place immediately after every general election since 1964, giving a total of ten so far. There have also been two non-election year surveys (in 1963 and 1969), Scottish and Welsh booster studies at some elections, an ethnic minority booster sample in 1997, several campaign studies and a number of panel surveys. Through ESRC and JISC, resources have been invested in the acquisition and dissemination of these data and the other data that are of interest to political scientists. JICS recently awarded the UKDA a grant to prepare data for the NESSTAR system, that included 3 years of the BES. There are no user friendly web-based teaching resources based on these studies.

Content of the learning objects

The prime learning outcome is first to provide students with (semi-)independent means of developing analytical expertise within substantive areas, and second to provide instructors with (semi-)independent means of integrating empirical data in substantive courses.

The introduction to the materials for Britain and Politics will begin with an overview of the current controversies, and then follow on with looking at the styles of inquiry that could be used to examine the problems. The part relevant to using data begins with an overview of the sampling and design of the BES surveys, discusses issues of survey methodology validity and reliability, arising out of data collection, moving through an exploration of the data distributions and descriptives (via NESSTAR), finishing with the 'hands-on' exercises using SPSS or NSDSTAT (and model answers) to be used in the class.

Each module will be accompanied by a student guide, a teacher's guide and tutorial that highlight the concepts covered in the topic. Hands-on exercises will be combined with exemplars of syntax commands for key procedures and analysis commands, output from tables and graphs and other basic analyses of the teaching datasets using SPSS, NSDSTAF and NESSTAR.

A FAQ based on major problems and questions arising during the course of the workshops will also be constructed together with links to key publications and research outputs that will be made available to teachers (and students where interested).

An outline of the content of the Britain and Politics modules envisaged are set out Appendix 1. The idea is to provide discrete modules representing around 4 hours in student work time. Furthermore, they will be designed so as to ensure that they can be used and incorporated in teaching and learning in a flexible fashion. This is a prime consideration for this project. The courses selected for targeting and piloting the resources already have a number of defined learning outcomes, by which success can be measured through the programme of assessments, project work and examinations.

One approach to ensuring flexibility is the development of suggested pathways in which teachers and students may navigate their way through the modules. Whilst the 'data' module will be centred around resource discovery and exploring the BES metadata and data, some of the other modules can be seen as generic (eg sampling, data collection, survey data `validity and reliability; data distribution and even basic tabulations through to linear regression) could be customised by teachers from different disciplines, and adapted to their own course requirements.

Statistical software

The UK Data Archive's new online data access system, NESSTAR, not only delivers meta-data on line but also the actual data as well. NESSTAR is a set of internet-based tools to provide an enhanced online service for data providers and data users that gives easier and quicker access to data and information about that data. It is available as a freely downloadable application or within a Web browser. Users can: search for and list datasets; browse dataset documentation; browse and analyse data; visualise data; download data (including subsets) in a number of formats (including SPSS, SAS and STATA) and bookmark searches and analyses. All of this is done across organisational boundaries and through one interface.

NESSTAR is ideal tool for learning about resource discovery, and as such a small tutorial will be built around searching and locating locating particular segments of the British Election Survey, then going on to explore metadata about the aspect of the survey selected, before exploring the data (frequencies, tables) and then finally downloading the bespoke dataset in a form suitable for further analysis. In this way, the locating of an appropriate data set, downloading, preparing and analysing the data will be available as an online seamless process.

SPSS is the most widely used statistical package in HE in the UK at present, with the majority of Universities having a site licence. SPSS will be used for analysis purposes for the HE module. SPSS, however, is not widely use in FE colleges, nor are site license in these institutions common at the present time. NSDStat is a well-founded alternative data analysis package developed in Norway for use in senior secondary schools. A special license has been negotiated to allow NSDStat to be used with the module aimed at FE.

Authoring the materials

The substantive text, as well as the generic skill modules, will be written by Eric Tanenbaum, a principal teaching fellow in the University of Essex' Department of Government who, coincidentally was a member of the above-mentioned JISC Task Force. A virtual panel of reviewers will be established to consult on the development of the student and teacher guides. The UKDA will provide the technical support for the extraction and documentation of data, translation to web materials, usability testing and evaluation, and liaison with JISC, the X4L programme and the NLN. The module will then be adapted in close consultation with FE tutors and BECTA and piloted in one or two FE college courses.

Student and teacher reaction will be monitored during all stages of the piloting, and feedback will be gathered by individual and focus group discussions, and evaluation forms.

Creating web-based materials

The project will yield a set of web-based teaching materials that are constructed from re-purposed existing JICS content. CD-ROM could also be used as an alternative media for some of the modules. It is not expected that this web-based resource will be fully 'interactive', but via the live NESSTAR system students would be able to carry out some exploratory data analysis, create basic tables (without needing any of their own analysis software) and download the teaching dataset or a selected subset. The hands-on exercises could then be conducted on the downloaded dataset. A truly interactive tutorial based on the teaching materials would be expensive to build using SPSS, and in the interests of cost and the complexity of licensing, this proposal will not follow the live tutorial model, but rather provide bespoke 'demonstrators' based on existing software and technology.

The role of MLEs/VLEs

The University of Essex is in the process of building an MLE strategy to look at bringing together a variety of learning resource and support tools into personalised learning environments. In addition to ongoing work on student assessments, timetabling and conferencing systems, and other student support services, the University also has a programme that sponsoring the building of online courses through special grants. This proposal will discuss with the University staff in charge of this programme, ways of virtually integrating the modules into its e-learning strategies. Similarly the FE colleges are beginning to develop their ICT provision and frameworks and the project will discuss similar opportunities with the FE IT staff in charge of overseeing the MLE/VLE strategy for the college. One local college, Colchester Institute, was recently involved in one of the JISC Interoperability pilots in which the VLE under development, TekniCAL's 'Virtual Campus' could interface with FD Learning's student record component using appropriate elements of the IMS standard as it develops. One of the project's aims was to test interoperability between the Virtual Campus (VLE) and learning resources (content). The project was piloted on two courses which the ILT champions were using the 'Virtual Campus', although at this stage no specific training on using the system had been given. We are aware that a group of FE colleges in the region, including Colchester Institute, are submitting a bid for X4L on health-related content, but we have not had sufficient time to liaise with them about their work in this area. Equally, they have not come to the UKDA to discuss using the wealth of heath data sources we hold at the UKDA. If funded, this project would liaise closely with this local network to share experiences of re-purposing and piloting content, and of IT delivery of such resources.

We expect that some of the ongoing projects currently funded by JISC, such as the Sunderland and DeMontford MLE projects, and the Teaching, Learning and Technology Roundtables Teaching project at Sheffield will help inform some of the strategic models and practical ways in which ICT can be effectively implemented in HE and FE.

Piloting the materials
Piloting in HE

The module will be tested in Department of Government at the University of Essex on an introductory undergraduate course. This course has been selected on the basis of the links already forged between the UKDA and HE. Besides this, the programme will be featured at the University of Essex' Department of Government's annual day conference for A-Level Politics students and teachers which is held in January.

However the project will consult further with the LTSN Subject Centre for Politics in the early stages to establish whether there are other lecturers that may wish to join in the testing of the materials or who may even wish to contribute to the project. However, this capacity will not affect or disrupt the model or data selected for the deliverables.

Translating the resource to FE

The Britain and Politics modules will be used to produce a prototype that can be piloted in the FE environment. After undergoing any key edits to the user guides, the class notes and exercises, the resource will be given to the FE tutors to evaluate. It is anticipated that their expertise will enable the resource to be adapted in ways that will suit the needs of FE class work and learning expectations. We expect that the level of statistical sophistication for A level and equivalent courses will less and so some of the later exercises could simply be omitted, leaving the introductory material intact. The difference in levels of sophistication and expectations by tutors in relation to the resource will be carefully documented.

In the first instance, the Colchester Sixth Form College will be used as the major text site, but we would be happy to extend the piloting where possible to other local colleges or though collaboration with other similar X4L projects.

Finally, we have not yet established the level of provision or support for MLEs or VLEs within the Sixth Form College, but will discuss this during the initial resource creation phases.

Consultation and Evalulation

The processes of consultation and evaluation will be overseen by the Project Manager and Project Officers.

The development of all learning and teaching materials will be carried out in conjunction with consultation with a panel of lecturers and teachers. We also intend to conduct a simple survey of lecturers and teacher in FE colleges to get feedback on the resources. To achieve this, an early objective of the project is to set up a network of partnerships with key individuals and institutions across the HE teaching and learning sector, including the LTSN C-SAP based at Birmingham and existing networks that already exist for the teaching of political science and recently.

The C-SAP has recently awarded a number of small projects that address teaching and learning issues in HE for the three areas of concern: sociology, anthropology and politics. Whilst none of these small scale projects addresses the issue of using data in the classroom, there is one project, entitled 'Internet Enhanced Learning in Politics' based at Nottingham that aims to investigate e-learning strategies for undergraduate politics teaching through an analysis of existing VLEs. Through departmental student/staff consultation and feedback on VLEs a report will be produced. This proposal will tap into this work, and it is hoped that a two way communication can be established to help gain feedback on the data demonstrator proposed here. A further politics-based project is concerned with establishing a network between research methods teaching in the Northwest to disseminate good practice with and between disciplines. Finally one other project is concerned with a review of a first year undergraduate programme in politics at the University of Aberdeen. Feedback will be collected from both internal staff and beyond with the aim of embedding a revised first year strategy through co-operating and learning from other institutions. It is hoped that the networks created during the course of these two project can be exploited to help gain feedback on the proposed learning resource.

From an early stage in the development of the learning and teaching modules and the web interface, a range of evaluation instruments will be employed to ensure that the project is meeting the requirements of the teaching communities. Evaluation instruments will be developed by the UKDA in consultation with the LTSN C-SAP and BECTA, and implemented at the University of Essex and in the FE colleges. The instruments will include questionnaires, and topic guides for interviews and focus groups. Finally a number of workshops will be held to invite tutors across the UK to learn about the resource, test it out and offer comments on relevance and usability. A logging system will be set up to log comments and feedback from the testing which can then feed into refining the content or design of the materials. Feedback from piloting the modules in the classroom will be play a key role in process of modifying the content and format of materials.

Dissemination Plans

The dissemination strategy is aimed at providing a usable and robust set of teaching datasets and creating a set of written (Web-based) materials based on applying these objects in the classroom. The 'teaching package' which will include prepared data sets, student and teacher focussed guides and ancillary support documentation that will be available for immediate online access, as well as parts on CD-ROM, enabling students to have individual copies where required. The web-based materials will be accessible via the UKDA Web site 'Teaching and learning portal' that will be created at the UKDA, and will be linked from other service providers and JISC related web sites. Furthermore, the tailor-made and widely accessible teaching BES datasets will also be freely available for non-commercial usage via the UKDA ordering system without restriction and via the online NESSTAR system.

This particular teaching initiative is built around the existing infrastructure of the UKDA, which has a proven track record of supporting users of quantitative data by User Group Meetings, focused workshops for researchers and students (and recently one for FE students), electronic mail lists, and in collating and hosting web-based training materials (TRAMSS). Via these mechanisms, and other publicity ventures such as the regular quarterly Newsletter, the UKDA is able to tap users from a broad spectrum from academics to a range of students in HE. Links with FE have yet to be fully realised although recent collaboration over with FE colleges in the locality has set the ball rolling. We expect that some of the recent JISC sponsored reports on feedback from FE pilotwork will help provide guidance to the FE lecturers on DNER accessibility.

The two LTSNs for sociology and statistics have expressed their support in promoting the planned materials, as have the Royal Statistical Society Educational section.

The UK Data Archive will host the teaching datsets (on the UKDA NESSTAR server and on the UKDA download server) and the online teaching materials, guides and tutorials accompanying surrounding these data. Whilst sustainability is cited not to be of critical importance for X4L, it is clear that the UKDA as a well established national service provider would be able to host the site and be amenable to requests for user support and updates. Indeed the UKDA User Services division provides the capacity to deal with any teaching related requests as part of its ongoing remit, and as such would be happy to offer one-on-one support to tutors or give talks to classes about any aspects of the resources created under the X4L programme which make use of UKDA data.

Finally the project will aim to submit a paper/poster at a number of relevant annual meetings and relevant forums that are concerned with using numeric data in HE/FE or other X4L related meetings. The IASSIST annual 'data archivists' meeting held in Ottowa in 2003 regularly run a stream on creating and implementing teaching materials based on numeric data resources, at which the team would like to present a paper based on this work. It is anticipated that a couple of journal papers will also be submitted for publication.

Project Partners

In the context of the proposed project the respective strengths of the partners are appropriately complementary.

The UKDA has led a number of successful projects for the JISC, and are currently involved in three major JISC initiatives. First is the joint multi-centre project on the JISC 5/99 Developing the DNER for Learning and Teaching for the Census; second is the jointly funded service the Census Registration Service and finally, the two JISC geo data projects based at the HDS in the UKDA. Finally, the UKD was a partner in the JISC Use of Numeric Data in Teaching and Learning project.

The University of Essex has further been involved in developing a partnership with the South East Essex College over the past 18 months and informal links with the Colchester Institute and Sixth Form Colleges. On 27th February the UKDA hosted a group of FE students undertaking a National Diploma in Public Policy for a full morning, to provide insight into survey data and resources available at the UKDA. The UKDA is confident it can build a working and productive partnership with FE for this project.

The UKDA will lead the management of the project. The partners will meet on a regular basis particularly during the authoring and piloting phases of the project. The project will be co-ordinated by a Project Manager based at the UKDA who will be responsible for the development of the overall project plan, effective communication and co-ordinated working between the partners in HE and FE, co-ordinating implementation and evaluation activities and production of the end of award reports and promotional materials. A small group of the staff creating the learning and teaching materials will meet bi-weekly during the creation phase, and the programmer and metadata officer will attend special meetings with the content developers prior to and during the online resource creation phase.

Exit Strategy

Whilst not demanded by this X4L programme, it is never the less desirable to have an appropriate continuation strategy that ensures the ongoing maintenance, development and promotion of the resource. The expectation is that the ongoing maintenance and support of the Web based materials would be undertaken by the UKDA. The User Guides for NESSTAR would be updated in line with any future software changes. We would be very happy to submit the final version of the resource to the JISC/NLN learning materials repository for further testing subject to its suitability for inclusion.

Modules written on some of the more generic topics, such as sampling and survey measurement techniques could provide the training necessary to attain the required skill level to approach a much wider range of substantive topics. The obvious benefit to students and teachers is that a common 'front-end' could provide the interface for these varying topics. After all, it is not unusual for an FE teacher to be responsible for several different subjects or for a student to be enrolled in two or three cognate social science subjects. This proposal can be viewed as a prototype which could form the basis for a more substantial project and deliverable a Socio-Economic Encyclopaedia of Great Britain, featuring units on politics, crime, health, education and so on. Each unit could draw on the appropriate social surveys in the UKDA's collection, including the British Election Surveys, the General Household Survey, the Family Expenditure Survey, the Labour Force Survey and the British Household Panel Survey among others. Each unit could focus on current controversies in the area, encouraging students to investigate each through rigorously structured independent project work. The underlying goal would be to instil methodical analytical practices through substantive investigations of quantitative empirical information. The key generic skills are information management, statistical analysis and the interplay of abstract theoretical concepts with empirical observations.

Proposed Module for HE

  1. a student-oriented workbook introducing the major controversies in British political science and suggested analytical projects that address each controversy; the guide will include syntax from analysis and model answers to questions.
  2. a teacher's guide to the module which has an extended review of the literature about each controversy, tips for further extensions, suggestions about possible corrective actions for common problems that the students might encounter; and
  3. the requisite datasets, extracted from Data Archive holdings, formatted in keeping with the requirements of SPSS, the most widely used social science statistical analysis software package in HE, NSDStat+, a social science data analysis package developed in Norway for FE which will meet the needs for UK FE sites who will not have access to SPSS, and NESSTAR, data retrieval program developed with EU support by a consortium of European data archives, led by UKDA.

Included among the controversies that students will be encouraged to explore with these data are:

  1. the extent of pocketbook voting
  2. the role of issues

  3. law and order
    the economy
  4. the importance of social location
  5. the north-south divide
  6. factors encouraging turnout
  7. campaign attentiveness
Core: introductory skills
  1. sampling;
  2. survey measurement techniques;
  3. basic data management; and
  4. Basic statistical analysis

Modules written on each of these generic topics will provide the training necessary to attain the required skill level to approach the substantive topics.

The module written on each of these generic topics could provide the training necessary to attain the required skill level.

The Britain and Politics module will use the data from recent British Election Surveys. A number of small teaching datasets will be created and used for this purpose.


Work months
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
Extraction of BES data, conversion to NESSTAR, user guide  
  Construction of teaching materials and manuals  
  Metadata work - liasing with CETIS and JORUM (summary report on metadata month 6)
  Translating materials on to the Web and additions/edits after piloting
  Piloting of learning materials in HE (students and peers)  
  Evaluation and assessment of HE pilot results  
  Piloting in FE (students and peers)  
  Evaulation and assessment of FE pilot results  
  Testing of web resources in HE  
  Report writing and recommendations

Workplan Summary

The work packages fall into several distinct categories: co-ordination/project management; development of learning and teaching materials for 2-3 politics modules for HE/FE; Dataset Preparation and Resource Discovery NESSTAR Guides; consultation and evaluation and documentation. This section summarises each work package in terms of the person months, objectives and a summary of the deliverables.

UKDA = UK Data Archive
GOV = Department of Government, University of Essex
CSC = Colchester Sixthform college, Colchester

WP1: Co-ordination/Project management
Partners: UKDA
  1. A project which delivers within budget and on time
  2. A project plan
  3. Bi-monthly meetings of the partners
  4. Co-ordination and production of the annual and end of award report
  5. Production of exit strategy for project
  6. Liaison with JISC (on the X4L development bay and IMS), LTSN Subject Centres (i.e. Politics and Statistics), the RDN through SOSIG and the VTS, and BECTA

WP2: Dataset Preparation and Resource Discovery NESSTAR Guides
Partners: UKDA
  1. Teaching datasets that are available without ant restrictions of HE/FE student usage.
  2. Teaching datsets available in NESSTAR, prepared with full variable and value labels and question text
  3. User Guides for resource discovery and navigating through NESSTAR

WP3: Development of Learning and Teaching Materials
Partners: UKDA GOV CSC
  1. Two student guides (HE and FE oriented) and associated exercises and teacher guides
  2. Report on the construction of the teaching materials in the selected learning and teaching environments

WP4 Mount web-based learning objects and development of UKDA Learning and Teaching mini Portal
Partners: UKDA
  1. A mini web based portal
  2. Easily navigable online learning and teaching modules with associated datasets
  3. Brief report on requirements on metadata standards for use for the teaching and learning materials

WP5: Consulatation and Evaluation
Partners: UKDA GOV CSC
  1. A short report on how politics courses have used data in the classroom
  2. Report on feedback gathered from the HE/Fe pilots, and recommendations for further design and implementation. Including milestones, pitfalls and recommendations for implementation of this kind of resource in the classroom.
  3. Report on structured feedback from the roadshows and a survey of social science lecturers and teachers in response to the resource.

WP6: Documentation and Dissemination
Partners: UKDA GOV
  1. A user friendly web-based learning and teaching resource
  2. A fully documented report on the processes used to re-purpose learning materials
  3. Conference papers, journal articles, fact-sheets; news items in organisational newsletters
  4. Conference presentations, demonstrations and institutional visits to FE and HE with workshops for teachers/trainers
  5. Promotion of the resource via gateways, portals, electronic discussion groups, bulletin boards, search engines and traditional media
  6. A limited number of roadshows to promote the project using the public domain, change over time web-site.
  7. Submission of the final version of the resource to the JISC/NLN learning materials repository for further testing
  8. A concrete contribution to the X4L mission