FSD Bulletin

Issue 26 (1/2009)

ISSN 1795-5262

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FSD Bulletin is the electronic newsletter of the Finnish Social Science Data Archive. The Bulletin provides information and news related to the data archive and social science research.


Finnish Social Science Data Archive
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Data on Consumer Behaviour Used in Teaching

Päivi Vännilä | Photo by: Marianna Mäkelä

Sari-Maarit Peltola searched the Internet for detailed information on conducting action research and accidentally stumbled upon the FSD's QualiMOTV web resource, which is designed particularly to offer ideas on how to teach qualitative methods. Several datasets in the web resource were suitable for a study module on consumer research.

Peltola works as a principal lecturer of consumer behaviour in the School of Business and Services Management at the Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences. Last year, she organised a study module on consumer research directed especially at hospitality management students.

Sari-Maarit Peltola

Finding data that had already been collected facilitated and sped up teaching considerably according to Peltola.

– I wanted my students to practise different analysing techniques with authentic interview data before they go out and conduct their own interviews and analyse them. Without the FSD's services, I would have had to use a considerable amount of time to search for data, or more likely, I would have had to use the data, on which I based my own licentiate thesis, and that data would not have been very suitable for the theme of the module. Of course, the students also used other data in their exercises. For instance, they analysed annual reports and Internet discussions. However, the FSD's services were of great help, Peltola says.

Authentic Data Motivates

Peltola found a great deal of research data which were related to the subject matter of the module and which she thought would interest the students. The exercises carried out on authentic data seemed to motivate the students, and no negative feedback was given.

– By using the FSD's services, I believe I managed to lower the students' threshold to conduct qualitative research. As a matter of fact, most of the students carried out the required practical work by collecting and analysing qualitative data. I hope that this contributes to the use of qualitative research methods in theses as well, Peltola says.

Qualitative Data Surprised

– I knew the FSD from the time when I worked as a lecturer of organisational communication and public relations at the University of Jyväskylä. At that time, I had not ordered any data because I could not find any studies suitable for my purposes. As a matter of fact, I had entirely forgotten that data can be ordered from the archive and I was immensely pleased when I found out it was possible. I planned on using the archive's data for teaching if I could locate qualitative material which would be relevant as regards the subject matter of the upcoming study module, Peltola says.

– I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that there were plenty of data on the website and that there were even more qualitative data suitable for my study module than I had anticipated! I was also pleased to be able to immediately access both the interview questionnaires and the short samples of each dataset. If they had not been available, I might have ordered some data in vain, Peltola thinks.

A small negative surprise for Sari-Maarit Peltola was that the access application could not be sent over the Internet. However, she was delighted by the fact that after faxing the access application she received the data in her email the following day. Another positive surprise was that all three datasets she ordered turned out to be useful.

Data-Based Approach as Alternative

If Peltola started to plan teaching a study module from scratch now, she could use a data-based approach and proceed on the archived dataset's own terms. On the other hand, it would entail that the data suited the purposes of the study module exactly.

– I recommend using archived data to every university teacher! Archived data should be especially useful in methodology teaching, but there may also be several other ways of exploiting data, Peltola says.