Associate Professor In-Residence
Department of Public Policy
M.A., University of Connecticut, Political Science/Survey Research, 2001
Ph.D., University of Connecticut, Political Science, 2004
Previous Director of UConn’s Master of Survey Research Program
Teaching & Research Interests
Dr. Jennifer Dineen
Combining Practical Experience to Engage Students
Professor Jennifer Dineen discovered the field of survey research as an undergraduate student in the political science program at Marist College. She took a part-time job as a telephone interviewer, and “was fascinated by the questionnaires and the data collection process from the very beginning,” she remembers. After earning a Bachelor’s degree at Marist College, she pursued her graduate studies at UConn, where she earned an M.A. in Political Science/Survey Research and a Ph.D. in Political Science.
Prior to joining UConn’s faculty and taking on the role of Director of the Graduate Program in Survey Research, Dineen gained valuable experience in the field by working as an independent research consultant, and as project director at UConn’s Center for Survey Research and Analysis.
“As an independent consultant, I worked with clients representing a variety of industry sectors – non-profits, government agencies, political candidates, Universities, etc. designing and executing both qualitative (in-depth interviews, focus groups, cognitive testing etc.) and quantitative (surveys) research,” she says. “Working independently allowed me to work on every aspect of the research project.”
At UConn’s Center for Survey Research and Analysis (CSRA), Dineen directed studies for the U.S. Department of Labor, FDIC, Fortune 500 companies, Connecticut State Agencies, community-based organizations, educational institutions, and local municipalities.
“It was very similar to the work I did as an independent consultant, except we worked in teams,” she explains. “I worked with clients to determine what research would get them the information they needed and then design and execute the study.”
When she teaches “Qualitative Methods,” “Applied Quantitative Methods,” and “Principles and Methods in Survey Research,” she combines all of her practical experience in the field to engage the students in her classes.
“I use mock projects to teach different skill sets,” she says. “I try to ensure that the mock projects represent a wide variety of topics so students are always working on something new. I also like to include peer review and group discussions so that students are engaging with each other as well as with the material and with me. Having a wide variety of practical work allows me to use real-life research experiences to illustrate concepts. Abstract ideas are more meaningful and easier to grasp if students can see how they apply to the work they will do.”
Although Dineen finds it takes a bit more time and effort to create a learning community online, she says the benefits of the online classroom are many.
“Because the program is online and students do not have to give up their current life to attend, many of our students are early to mid-career professionals working in the Survey Research industry or working in jobs that include Survey Research,” Dineen explains. “Having students with diverse professional backgrounds who already work in survey research or with data in some way produces interesting class discussions.