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A "Networked" Social Science Laboratory: In-Person and Virtual Workshops

The problem this project addresses is the "quantitative reasoning gap" that has been widely recognized among undergraduate social science majors. The objectives are to (1) introduce more "science" into the social sciences at the early undergraduate level; (2) make quantitative reasoning skills accessible to social science majors by showing their relevance to social issues in an active learning setting; (3) prepare students for applied upper level courses and careers that utilize these skills. The methods are implementation of both traditional in-person workshops and a "virtual" -- Internet -- accessible workshop that will enable social science faculty at two and four year colleges to exchange data and ideas toward introducing analysis of U.S. Census data in their classes. This project will have impact beyond that in the project period, since the virtual workshop, along with an Internet-accessible library of exercises, will be self-sustaining after the conclusion of the project period. In addition to faculty generally at two and four year institutions, the special audiences addressed are minority and disabled faculty, as well as faculty from two-year undergraduate institutions and other institutions that provide little or no financial support for involvement in such activities. This proposal builds on a Department of Education-funded (FIPSE) collaboration between the University of Michigan Population Studies Center (PSC) and a network of 12 colleges of the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA). This existing FIPSE project demonstrates the feasibility of incorporating interactive U.S. Census data analysis via the Internet into existing undergraduate curricula. This proposal to NSF extends to a national community of social science instructors an approach to sharing curricular materials and interactive networking capabilities.

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The Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Research Inventory is an
interactive, Internet-based, searchable database created as a tool to collect and disseminate
up-to-date information about research projects in the
Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Region.