Web Magazine for Information Professionals

Planet SOSIG: Social Science Case Studies

Dave Boyd provides an update on SOSIG’s involvement in the new RDN FE case studies project, and on developments within the Geography and Environmental Sciences subject sections.

The RDN has recently launched a set of case studies aimed at supporting the use of the Internet for further education. The project was led by staff at Biz/ed based at The Institute for Learning and Research Technology (ILRT). It started in February 2002 and was completed in October this year.

The project has resulted in the publication of 106 practical examples that describe the way in which RDN Internet resources can be used to help lecturers in the delivery of particular courses. The case studies have been prepared by practitioners from the further education (FE) sector and cover a wide range of subjects and courses.

SOSIG staff assisted the FE representatives in the preparation of their case studies in the social sciences. In total, thirteen ‘social science’ case studies have been produced, for Business (GNVQ); Sociology (AS/A2 level); Psychology (‘A’ level) and Economics (‘A’ level).

Each of the thirteen social science case studies is derived from Internet resources on SOSIG, or resources linked to by SOSIG. The development of the case studies is intended to illustrate how lecturers can easily integrate Internet resources into their courses and aims to encourage more teachers to use the RDN and the subject hubs.

Specific examples of social science case studies include ‘Diagnosis and treatment of a mental disorder’ which takes the Internet Mental Health resource [1] as a starting point. This case study involves a learning activity that demonstrates to students the problematic nature of defining atypical behaviour and how a range of treatments and therapies can be described. The aim is to provide students with an introduction to key conceptual and methodological issues in the subject area. The case study was written by Brian Lambourne, a lecturer in psychology at Boston College in Lincolnshire. Brian also developed a case study that explores how cognitive psychologists are able to use models, and design research to make inferences about cognitive processes. The practical study utilises an online ‘lab experiment’ developed at the University of Mississippi [2].

Written by Peter Rouncefield, a sociology lecturer from the City of Bristol College, ‘Crime and Deviance’ explores issues surrounding contemporary crime theory. Peter’s study uses as a basis for discussion and learning a UK Home Office Police Research Group paper entitled ‘Opportunity makes the thief: practical theory for crime prevention’ [3].

All the case studies, and further information about the project can be viewed at http://www.rdn.ac.uk/casestudies/

Update on the SOSIG Geography and Environmental Sciences sections

Geography and environmental sciences are unique subjects, subjects that explore the relationships and interactions between people and places. Though unique, many of the issues pertinent to these subjects are of an interdisciplinary nature that requires inclusion and input from social scientists across a wide range of fields. Many topical geographical and environmental issues reflect growing areas of study in the social sciences, e.g., globalisation, migration studies, citizenship, identity and community, global awareness, sustainability, and environmental education.

Issue 30 of Ariadne (December 2001) included news of forthcoming changes to the Geography and Environmental Sciences sections of SOSIG. In the past year these changes have been implemented and are now beginning to take shape on the site. Visitors to SOSIG will notice that the two subject sections have been significantly restructured and expanded. In part this is due to a collaborative venture that has involved SOSIG contributing a substantial number of resources to the new RDN Geography and Environment hub (GESource) that is due to be launched early next year. During this process, and with renewed effort SOSIG has been able to build on its own collection of geography and environment resources that are of particular interest to social scientists. The two sections alone now direct users to over 1000 high quality resources in the field. Within the structure of the existing classification scheme (UDC), several sub-divisions have recently been introduced.

Users may now browse and search for resources in a wide range of areas that include, urban growth and urbanisation, political geography, regional geography, sustainable development, global warming, and green issues. It is hoped that the restructuring process will better reflect growth areas of study.

The process of building up the two sections continues. Interested parties may like to participate. SOSIG greatly values input from its user community. To that end SOSIG provides an online form [4] where users are welcome to contribute high quality Internet resources they feel would usefully complement the collection.

For more information contact Dave Boyd at the address below.


[1]. ‘Internet for Mental Health’ can be found at URL:<http://www.mentalhealth.com/p.html>
[2]. ‘PsychExperiments’ can be found at:
URL: <http://www.psy.ed.ac.uk/psychexps/Exps/labexperiments.htm>
[3]. ‘Opportunity makes the thief: practical theory for crime prevention’ can be found at:
URL: <http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/prgpubs/fprs98.pdf>
[4]. ‘Add a new resource to SOSIG’, the form can be found at:
URL: <http://www.sosig.ac.uk/new_resource.html>

Author Details

Dave Boyd (SOSIG Research Officer)
Institute for Learning and Research Technology, University of Bristol
8-10 Berkeley Square
Bristol BS8 1HH
Email: d.j.boyd@bristol.ac.uk