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Engaging Students in Research
Lessons from Collecting Police Use of Deadly Force Data

This presentation will profile the experience designing and executing a research project that engaged two classes of social research methods students at U-Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). As class began that fall, the events that had erupted in Ferguson, MO, around police use of deadly force over the summer were just beginning to subside. Students were asked if they would like to collect their own data about police use of deadly force cases, instead of using the standard text and pre-loaded data sets. The students overwhelmingly agreed that they would like to collaborate on a project. And so the class set upon collecting cases of police use of deadly force in Baltimore and DC going back about 25 years.

This presentation will outline the process used to do this:

(1) The reasoning for selecting the time frame, population frame (cases to be collected), and key search terms

(2) Developing a codebook to organize the hundreds of articles collected

(3) Coding and cleaning the data

(4) Deliberating over what details to include or to not include in the data set-- and why (as well how to best classify those details)

(5) Developing questions that could potentially be answered with the data and engaging the students in thinking through those analyses and their implications

(6) The impact upon students thinking about this issue by participating in this project

  • Led by: Suzanne Goodney Lea, PhD
  • Date: Friday, November 18, 2016
  • Time: Noon - 12:50 PM
  • Location: Mellon Seminar Room - LRC 532B
  • Sponsor: CAT+FD, CUR

Note: Suzanne Goodney Lea, PhD, is a Fellow with the Interactivity Foundation (IF), which facilitates deliberative discussions of public policy among citizen and trains university faculty and students to lead exploratory public-policy-related discussions in their classrooms and communities. She is also a Rotary Peace Fellow, having completed a certificate in peace and conflict studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2016. Dr. Lea has served as an Assistant Professor at Gallaudet University’s Sociology Department, and as Chair of Criminal Justice at Trinity Washington University. Her current academic research explores police use of deadly force. Last year, she led undergraduate social research methods students at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, to collect 25 years of police-use-of-deadly-force incidents, which they analyzed and compiled into an op-ed published by The Baltimore Sun in May 2015 ( That data is now the basis of a series of police-community discussions taking place on Baltimore campuses this Fall. She recently co-authored the book Let’s Talk Politics: Restoring Civility Through Exploratory Discussion.

To register: Lunch will be provided. Please register with

Tags: outside speaker, undergraduate research
Format: presentation
Event ID: 01507

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