Political Science Education and the Profession

Codebook Critique: Teaching Measurement and Operationalization Using Publicly Accessible Data



Educating 21st century citizens requires lessons in data literacy, allowing learners to better understand and use the large amounts of information available to them. We must encourage our students to go beyond taking data as given, asking them to think critically about where it came from—Who collected it? For what purpose? What did they include/exclude? These questions dovetail with commonly taught topics in research methods courses, such as conceptualization, measurement, and operationalization, that may not be covered in substantive courses. This article describes a course module (of two to four 50-minute sessions) called “Codebook Critique,” where students are asked to review and critically evaluate the codebook from a publicly-accessible dataset. While originally used in an upper-division International Relations course, the exercise is flexible in that the assignment can be split into its component parts as appropriate for course-level and applied in various subfields.


Thumbnail image of Becker_CodebookCritique_PrePrint.pdf


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