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Bringing Data to Undergraduate Classrooms: The Social Science Data Analysis Network (SSDAN) and ICPSR's Online Learning Center (OLC)

Presenter 1
Lynette Hoelter
University of Michigan
Presenter 2
John P. DeWitt
University of Michigan

Quantitative literacy/reasoning have become buzzwords on many campuses, and few disciplines are as well-suited to building students' skills in these areas as are social sciences. Introducing students to data in their early courses when the focus is mainly on substantive topics also gives them a more realistic picture of how social scientists work, preventing some of the disconnect often felt as students move from substantive courses into research methods and statistics. Instructors face many challenges in using real data in these early classes, however. Difficulty in identifying relevant data, the need to simplify data for analyses, and the desire to avoid teaching statistical packages at these early stages are common obstacles instructors describe. This presentation will describe the SSDAN and OLC tools which aim to assist faculty by making it easier for instructors to bring data into lower-division social science courses. SSDAN makes available new data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey and the OLC pairs substantive concepts with relevant data, both using a Web-based interface and teaching modules that are ready to use with little additional instructor preparation. These tools and support quantitative literacy skills by exposing students to the world of data.

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