Resourcing Social Science
Case Study: School of Sociology, Social Policy & Social Work
Dr Ciaran Acton
Resourcing Social Science is a Level 1 module offered by the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work and is compulsory for students on most sociology, social policy and criminology pathways. This course exploits recent advances in information and communication technologies (ICTs) on a number of different levels and encourages students to adopt a critical approach to these developments.
The Blended Approach to e-Learning
The module employs a blended learning approach through the integration of elements of e-learning with more traditional methods of teaching, learning and assessment.
Online discussion forums are used to provide students with an opportunity to discuss the lecture material and continue the discussions and debates that originate in face-to-face tutorials.
Personal Response System (PRS) technology is used to facilitate student participation and engagement in the usually passive lecture environment and the assessment strategy combines the conventional essay format with computer assisted assessment, group project work and the assessment of discussion forum contributions.
Development of ICT Skills
There is an emphasis on the development of transferable skills, particularly those that are necessary for successful study at Levels 2 and 3. Students are introduced to online databases, PowerPoint, SPSS and a variety of computer based learning resources designed to improve their ICT skills.
Technology is also used to support the development of a range of other key skills. The JISC plagiarism software is employed as learning tool to introduce students to the concept of academic referencing and consolidate their essay writing skills and production of a group poster in PowerPoint provides the context for the development of communication and team working skills. Online learning resources such as Internet Sociologist and Internet Detective help to develop students’ critical thinking skills and encourage them adopt a more questioning approach to the information they encounter on the Internet.
Core Module Content
This critical approach is also reflected in the intellectual content of the course which focuses on some of the social and political implications of the ‘information revolution’. Topics include the digital divide, sociological theories of the information society, childhood and the Internet, online social research, and surveillance. The module also provides an introduction to social research methods and examines the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches, along with a consideration of the ethical dilemmas to which they give rise.