About X4L SDiT


Original Bid

Web-based Political Science Teaching and Learning Resources

Teaching and Learning Resource (TLR) Version 2.0

Overview of Proposed Teaching and Learning Resource (TLR) Version 2.0

1.0 Introduction

The key aim of our X4L project is "to build, pilot, evaluate and document a set of data-based resources for use in teaching political science courses (and also possibly extendable to citizenship, psychology and sociology teaching) at the HE and FE levels" (Bid document, p. 2). To meet our aim, we will re-purpose and simplify existing but complex data for use in the classroom; engage students using a specially authored web-based learning and teaching resource that links data use and substantive issues; reduce the costs for teachers who wish to incorporate data and CIT (communications and information technology) into their pedagogic approach; widen access to hitherto large and complex datasets; and promote the use of data to aid problem-based learning and teaching strategies.

This document provides an overview of the proposed teaching and learning resource. Its purpose is to summarise the team's vision for the Steering Committee before the resource is authored. The Steering Committee in turn will comment and critique the proposed resource and thus help guard against costly and time-consuming mistakes in the planning phase of the project.

2.0 Overview
2.1 Crime and Disorder

The proposed resource consists of four core modules aimed at A-level politics (and also possibly extendable to citizenship, psychology and sociology teaching) students and also relevant to HE undergraduates. Each module deals with the issue of crime. Modules five onwards focusing on the application of data sources to investigate issues in crime, are likely to be of most applicable to HE, but are being written in such way that could be used at the FE level. Some A'level courses, but typically not politics, do touch on research methods and statistics.

The first focuses on crime trends using Police Recorded Crime figures. The second module also focuses on crime trends uisng an alternative measure of crime between 1981 and 2003, as detailed in the British Crime Survey (BCS). The police figures and Crime Survey present a contrasting picture of crime in the UK-in terms of both trends and levels.

By employing two different sets of data purporting to measure the same thing, the first two modules force students to confront the fact that statistics are 'man made' objects, subject to many vagaries. To reinforce this point, both the first two modules include a methodological section outlining how the statistics are compiled, and questions in Module 2 encourage students to compare and contrast the two sets of figures.

The third module changes tack and examines people's perceptions of crime in England and Wales. The BCS, often referred to as a 'victimisation survey', asks people whether they think crime has risen in the past year, whether they think they will be a victim of crime in the coming year, and whether they are worried about crime. Students are encouraged to investigate the dissonance between people's perceptions of crime and the reality. On the one hand, majorities think that crime is on the increase and that they are likely to be a victim of crime; on the other, however, the statistics demonstrate that crime is falling and that only a small percentage of people are victims of crime in any one year.

The fourth module focuses on crime, political parties and public policy. Students investigate the previous Conservative government's and current Labour administration's policies and thinking on crime. A key goal is to evaluate the extent to which Labour has been both 'tough on crime, [and] tough on the causes of crime' and to place this in the context of the party's changing electoral fortunes.

Finally, modules five onwards (probably 2 or 3 'units') cover an introduction to surveys, survey design, sampling, central tendency, reliability and validity, and some basic data analyses (that cover interpreting frequencies, 2 and 3-way cross-tabulations and recoding data in SPSS. These modules have not yet been drafted, although exist in the forms of notes, and some hands-on statistical exercises.

2.2 Methods and Statistics

Our teaching and learning resource is designed to operate on two levels. As outlined above, the first introduces students, specifically FE students, to the substantive issue of crime and crime statistics. It also introduces students briefly to issues surrounding data collection, surveys, statistics, and so on. These issues are expanded upon at the second level. At various relevant points in the 4 modules, students will be able to invited to move to modules on methods and statistics. So, for example, students will be able to learn in detail about sampling, bivariate and multivariate analysis, and the difference between correlation and causation.

We believe that this multilevel approach is the best way to cover the substantive topic of crime and bring real data and statistical methods into the political science classroom.

3.0 The Individual Modules
3.1 Module 1

Aims and Objectives

Section A: Police Recorded Crime Figures
Resource 1: Table and graph of police figures
Resource 2: Document outlining the factors influencing the data
Activity 1: Quiz and short answers on police figures

Section B: Explaining Trends in Crime Activity 1: Identify potential explanations for increasing crime
Activity 2: List the most persuasive explanations and to provide solutions
Activity 3: Identify the problems with each 'solution'
Activity 4: Identify potential explanations for decreasing crime

3.2 Module 2

Aims and Objectives

Section A: Trends in Crime
Resource 1: Graph of number of crimes, 1981-2003, as reported to BCS
Activity 1: Quiz to probe students' knowledge of trends and levels and to improve their graph reading skills
Activity 2: Short answer question on trends

Section B: Methodology
Resource 1: Document comparing BCS and police recorded crime
Activity 1: Students asked to compare the two sets of figures

3.3 Module 3

Aims and Objectives

Section A: Perceptions of Crime
Resource 1: Graph on perceptions of national crime rate
Resource 2: Graph on percentage thinking they will be a victim of crime in following year
Resource 3: Table on actual risk of being a victim of crime
Activity 1: Quiz on perceptions vs. reality
Section B: Factors affecting Fear of Crime
Resource 1: Table correlating perceptions of crime and newspaper readership
Resource 2: Two newspaper articles on fear of crime
Activity 1: Short answer on why tabloid readers could be more likely to fear crime than broadsheet readers
Activity 2: Short answer on other factors affecting fear of crime

3.4 Module 4

Aims and Objectives

Section A: Causes or Effects
Resource 1: Two newspapers articles on prison and electronic tagging
Activity 1: A questionnaire-style comprehension on the two newspapers articles

Section B: Crime and the Political Parties
Resource 1: A list of 29 Labour initiatives on crime with on-line links to relevant websites and articles
Resource 2: On-line links to the three main parties websites
Activity 1: Short answers on whether each of Labour's crime initiatives is designed to be tough on crime, its causes, or both
Activity 2: Short answer on whether in the aggregate Labour's initiatives are tough on crime, its causes, or both
Activity 3: Students to complete a table comparing the main parties' policies on prisons, the police, drugs, youth justice, sentencing, rehabilitation and the causes of crime

3.5 Modules 5 and 6
Not yet authored, but anticipated:

Aims and Objectives

Resources: Powerpoints: survey design, questionnaire design, data collection and coding, sampling, reliability & validity, hypothesis testing and basic data analysis; resource discovery & searching theUKDA catalogue; introduction to NESSTAR; data exploration in NESSTAR; introduction to SPSS?; links to other key sites and social science quantitative methodology and data analysis resources e.g. SOSIG

Activities: Quizzes; hands-one sampling exercise (using DISCUSS resource?); resource discovery exercise, data exploration in NESSTAR; producing and comprehending summary statistics; 2 and 3 way cross-tabulation exercises on teaching dataset; recoding data, short answer questions.