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UW-Eau Claire Faculty/Staff Learn New Strategies
For Using Technology to Teach Undergraduates
MAILED: Feb. 7, 2003
EAU CLAIRE — Students in the social sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will be able to make better use of computer datasets compiled by social scientists and historians from around the world, thanks to the work of a UW-Eau Claire professor of history, James Oberly.
Last year the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., awarded Oberly a sabbatical to develop teacher guides on how to use historical datasets in teaching undergraduates. UW-Eau Claire has been a member of ICPSR, which is the world's largest repository of computer-readable social science data, for 20 years.
"For the past dozen years, I have used various historical datasets from the ICPSR Archive in teaching undergraduates," Oberly said. "The sabbatical fellowship provided a timely opportunity for me to transform the dozen instructional exercises I had prepared into files suitable for archiving and ultimately for faculty members at other ICPSR member institutions to use in their courses."
This semester Oberly will work with 11 members of the UW-Eau Claire faculty in the social sciences to explore the teaching and research possibilities of making more use of ICPSR datasets at UW-Eau Claire. Acting on the suggestion of Ted Wendt, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and using a model pioneered by the English department, Oberly proposed a faculty seminar, "Computing Across the Curriculum," that will meet twice a month to explore how to use the ICPSR datasets in classroom teaching.
"The creation of an active, committed core of social science faculty who use ICPSR datasets in their teaching will benefit our students, and may also pay future benefits as ICPSR seeks NSF funding to make certain datasets more accessible to undergraduates," Oberly said.
The technique is effective in engaging students in the substance of the data and in giving them an understanding of historical context, Oberly said.
The ICPSR project is funded by the Technology Innovation for Education Fellowship program at UW-Eau Claire. The TIE Fellows program provides an opportunity for faculty and academic staff to develop applications of instructional technologies for their courses and programs and to become catalysts for change within their departments, said Kathleen Finder, interim director of the Teaching and Learning Technology Development Center.
Erik Austin, the director of Archival Development at ICPSR, will attend the first meeting of the TIE Fellows at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 10 in the CITI. Oberly said Austin will speak to the group about how UW-Eau Claire can become more of a partner in developing curriculum.
"One of our academic goals at UW-Eau Claire involves numerical understanding and how to use and manipulate data so this initiative fits in with what we're doing here with the undergraduate degree as well as in the social sciences," Oberly said.
The following faculty and academic staff will participate in the "Computing Across the Social Sciences" seminar:
Bill Applebaugh, Mathematics
Melissa Bonstead-Burns, Sociology
Mike Dorsher, Communications and Journalism
Selika Ducksworth-Lawton, History
Michael Fine, Political Science
Margaret Gilkison, Political Science
Marc Goulet, Mathematics
Eric Jamelske, Economics
Jianjun Ji, Sociology
Geoff Peterson, Political Science
Patricia Turner, History
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: February 7, 2003