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New COVID-19 Understanding Society teaching dataset launched

New Understanding Society resource for methods teachers

Looking for data for teaching? Understanding Society and the UK Data Service have launched a new teaching dataset containing data from the Understand Society COVID-19 survey.

The new resource includes data from the Understanding Society COVID-19 Study with background information about the participants collected during their main Understanding Society annual interviews. It will allow students to explore how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected people’s lives.

Developed through a collaboration between the UK Data Service, ISER and Professor Sin Yi Cheung from Cardiff University, this new resource includes a cross-sectional and longitudinal data file.

Cheung, who made this request for a teaching resource to be created for her students, said: “I’m very happy that my suggestion of a Covid teaching data set was adopted. I never thought it would be possible to use the complex Understanding Society data for UG teaching, but the UKDS and the Understanding Society teams made it happen. In particular, I was impressed by how timely their responses were and their collaborative approach in developing teaching resources with lecturers”.

COVID-19 Study

The Covid survey set out, from April 2020, to find out how the pandemic was affecting people’s lives. As the UK went into the first lockdown, Understanding Society developed a way to capture these experiences by asking participants to complete a short web survey – initially monthly. The 20-minute questionnaire had core questions to track changes in people’s lives, plus content that varied as the situation developed. It covers issues such as:

  • Working at home and home-schooling
  • COVID symptoms
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Social contact and neighbourhood cohesion
  • Volunteering
  • Socio-demographics

The first four waves took place from April to July 2020, and then every two months from September 2020 until March 2021. The ninth and final wave was in September 2021.

COVID-19 Teaching Dataset

The new teaching dataset includes data from the original COVID-19 study in two files:

  • A cross-sectional file, containing 53 variables, each measured at one time-point only, with data mainly from Wave 4 (July 2020).
  • A longitudinal file, including 92 variables with repeated measures from up to three time points, with data mainly from Wave 1, 4 and 9 (April and July 2020, and September 2021). For ease of use in teaching, this file is a balanced panel and in a wide format.

Both files contain a range of continuous variables suitable for teaching correlation and regression. The files also contain a single survey weight and survey design variables.

Dr Alita Nandi, Associate Director (Outreach), for Understanding Society, says: “Our COVID-19 data is a good introduction to longitudinal data for new users. With its large, representative sample, it allows researchers to explore how the pandemic affected individuals, families and communities across the UK.”

Dr Piotr Marzec, Senior Data Analyst and Training Officer for Understanding Society added, “Creating this new teaching resource makes this data accessible for students, too – the social science researchers of tomorrow – and it comes with a user guide to make the experience easier. This introduces students to the structure of the dataset, and the topics covered – and helps them find other training and support from Understanding Society.”

Download the new COVID-19 Teaching Dataset

New COVID-19 Study Teaching Dataset – Access Data

Nesstar Catalogue: Understanding Society: COVID-19 Study Teaching Dataset, 2020-21