Document Actions

Dr Ben Worthy

Parliamentary Studies

This module is designed to help people understand how parliament works and Dr Worthy aims to provide students with experience of original online research. He asked each student to choose an MP to follow on social networks. They used Google Alerts to monitor information on that MP and subscribed to their twitter feeds for six months. They then wrote an essay on the difference between the theory and the reality of how an MP spends his/her time.

Although many students were inspired by this assignment, some students were intimidated. Perhaps they would have felt “safer” if writing an essay with more traditional sources such as printed newspapers. Dr Worthy provided some scaffolding, e.g. a table explaining where to look, and is considering explaining the assignment earlier in the module next year.

A week after the submission of their essay, a seminar was held where students discussed what they did and how they might have done it differently. A professional researcher attended this seminar to discuss their methods. Students also wrote a second, more formal essay, indicating what they had learned from conducting this research.

Dr Worthy is considering adopting a similar approach on a second module. Maintaining the theme of requiring students to conduct original online research, one of the assignments for the Digital Politics module would ask them to focus on blogs, evaluating postings and comments to see the flows of communication.