The topic of this paper is what can be known and shared about the pedagogical knowledge involved in educating social science students and researchers to be literate and competent in the use advanced and innovative research methods. The desire to build capacity among social science researchers is evident across Europe (Kottmann 2011; Murray & Pollard 2011). The need to understand the pedagogies involved in this began to be flagged relatively recently, e.g. by Hurworth (2008); Garner, Wagner and Kawulich (2009); Payne & Williams (2011). This was reinforced by literature reviews that highlighted the paucity of the pedagogical culture (Wagner, Garner and Kawulich 2011; Earley 2014). Networks supporting pedagogical developments have developed in the UK (NCRM nd); Norway and Sweden (Murray & Pollard 2011) and Spain (Hernández-Hernández & Sancho-Gil 2015). Empirical research across national, disciplinary and methodological contexts and cultures though is more recent (Nind, Kilburn & Luff 2015), with the study discussed here representing a significant advance (Nind, Kilburn and Wiles 2015; Lewthwaite and Nind 2016).
The paper discusses a UK research-council funded research project which encompasses international perspectives and data. It is aimed at: (i) advancing pedagogical culture and pedagogical content knowledge for social science research methods teaching; (ii) creating a typology of pedagogical approaches to inform policy and practice in this arena; and (iii) developing a coherent theoretical framework for methods teaching. The research questions being pursued include: (i) how is the subject matter of advanced and innovative research methods being taught and learned? And (ii) how can methods teachers’ methodological and pedagogical craft be most powerfully articulated? Sub-questions within this relate to identifying the distinctive pedagogical challenges that arise in the methods classroom and how teachers respond and build their pedagogical knowledge.
Responding to the need to build social science research capacity has led to large investments, such as the UK National Centre for Research Methods funded by the Economic and Social Research Council to do just this. Alongside there has been formalization of doctoral training in Europe connected to the Salzburg Principles (Kottmann 2011). In this paper we argue that capacity will only be built if attention is paid to the pedagogies involved, knowing those pedagogies in ways that support their sharing and development. The study is underpinned by two crucial theoretical concepts: First that pedagogy is hard to know (Shulman 1987; Nind, Curtin & Hall 2016), and second, that it helps to focus not just on pedagogical knowledge or on subject knowledge, but on the combination of these in pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) (Shulman 1986, 1987). Shulman (1987, p. 6), referring to school-based education, observed that ‘teachers themselves have difficulty articulating what they know and how they know it’. This is even more evident when there is no formal training and sparse pedagogical culture as is often the case in teaching research methods. Our research has involved a multi-component design to allow us as researchers, together with the teachers and learners involved in the study, to understand subtle aspects of teachers’ pedagogical decision-making that has often been invisible to us, making tacit, practical knowledge (Traianou 2006) knowable and accessible to us as a community of stakeholders. PCK is critical in research methods education as it is PCK that allows teachers to transform their methodological knowledge and experience into a form that is comprehensible to learners in a process in which pedagogy specific to the subject matter develops (Nind, Kilburn and Wiles 2015). The study was designed to explore teachers’ active knowing (Kind 2009) taking us beyond individual pedagogical narratives (van Driel, Verloop, and de Vos 1998, 674) to useable concepts.
Earley, M. (2014) A synthesis of the literature on research methods education, Teaching in Higher Education 19(3):242-253. Garner, M.,Wagner, C. & Kawulich, B. (2009) Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences. Farnham: Ashgate. Hernández-Hernández, F. & Sancho-Gil, S.M. (2015) A learning process within an education research group: an approach to learning qualitative research methods, International Journal of Social Research Methodology 18(6):651-67. Hurworth, R. (2008). Teaching Qualitative Research: Cases and issues. Rotterdam: Sense. Kottmann, A. (2011) Reform of doctoral training in Europe: A silent revolution? In J. Enders et al. (Eds) Reform of Higher Education in Europe. Rotterdam: Sense. Kind, V. (2009). Pedagogical content knowledge in science education: Perspectives and potential for progress, Studies in Science Education 45:169–204. Lewthwaite, S. &Nind, M. (2016) Teaching research methods in the social sciences: Expert perspectives on pedagogy and practice, British Journal of Educational Studies DOI:10.1080/00071005.2016.1197882. Moyles, J., Adams, S., & Musgrove, A. (2002) Using reflective dialogues as a tool for engaging with challenges of defining effective pedagogy. Early Child Development and Care 172:463–78. Murray, J. & Pollard, A. (2011) International perspectives on research capacity building, British Journal of Educational Studies 59(3):219–224. NCRM (nd.) Pedagogy of Methodological Learning. http://pedagogy.ncrm.ac.uk/ Nind, M., Kilburn, D. & Luff, R. (2015) The teaching and learning of social research methods: developments in pedagogical knowledge, International Journal of Social Research Methodology 18(5):455-61. Nind, M., Kilburn, D. & Wiles, R. (2015) Using video and dialogue to generate pedagogic knowledge: teachers, learners and researchers reflecting together on the pedagogy of social research methods, International Journal of Social Research Methodology 18(5):561-57. Nind, M., Curtin, A. & Hall, K. (2016) Research Methods for Pedagogy. London: Bloomsbury. Payne, G. & Williams, M. (Eds.) (2011) Teaching Quantitative Methods: Getting the basics right. London: Sage. Shulman, L. (1986) Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching, Educational Researcher 15:4–14. Shulman, L. (1987) Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform, Harvard Educational Review 57(1):1–23. Traianou, A. (2006) Understanding teacher expertise in primary science: A sociocultural approach, Research Papers in Education 21:63–78. van Driel, J. H., Verloop, N., & de Vos, W. (1998). Developing science teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge, Journal of Research in Science Teaching 35:673–695. Wagner, C., Garner, M. & Kawulich, B. (2011) The state of the art of teaching research methods in the social sciences: towards a pedagogical culture, Studies in Higher Education 36(1):75-88.
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