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Can first year students do real research? Professor Angela Brew Learning and Teaching Centre.

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Presentation on theme: "Can first year students do real research? Professor Angela Brew Learning and Teaching Centre."— Presentation transcript:

1 Can first year students do real research? Professor Angela Brew Learning and Teaching Centre

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3 Some of the problems of the undergraduate curriculum An overcrowded curriculum stuffed with content Large classes Disengaged students who dont see the relevance of higher education for their current and future lives Bored students who just want to get the degree and leave because they are not intellectually challenged.

4 Teaching and Learning Teacher focused Information Transmission Student focused Conceptual Change (Prosser & Trigwell 1999) Inquiry focused Global understanding

5 Outline Why engage first year students in research and inquiry and how does this fit in with other MQ initiatives? Framework for research-based learning decision-making Examples of practice Next steps

6 Why is this so important?

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8 High impact educational practices 1.First year seminars and experiences 2.Common intellectual experiences 3.Learning communities 4.Writing-intensive courses 5.Collaborative assignments and projects 6.Undergraduate research 7.Diversity/global learning 8.Service learning, community-based learning 9.Internships 10.Capstone courses and projects (Kuh, 2008)

9 High impact educational practices 1.First year seminars and experiences 2.Common intellectual experiences 3.Learning communities 4.Writing-intensive courses 5.Collaborative assignments and projects 6.Undergraduate research 7.Diversity/global learning 8.Service learning, community-based learning 9.Internships 10.Capstone courses and projects (Kuh, 2008)

10 Enhancing student engagement through research-based learning Students adopt deep approaches to learning in a PBL curriculum Engaging in research has a positive impact on retention and satisfaction Students learn what research is and how to do it They develop a sense of professional identity Increases in self confidence Develops of advanced technical skills, problem solving, creative thinking and communication skills e. g. giving presentations Develops independent work habits Enhances teamwork and collaboration Ability to deal with ambiguity and obstacles Clarifies career goals

11 Outline Why engage first year students in research and inquiry and how does this fit in with other MQ initiatives? Framework for research-based learning decision-making Examples of practice Next steps

12 Aim of my Fellowship To enhance student engagement in learning through supporting the development in Australia of undergraduate research and inquiry

13 Definition of undergraduate research and inquiry [An] inquiry or investigation or a research-based activity conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline and/or to understanding. (following Beckman & Hensel, 2007)

14 Research-based learning decision-making What skills? Which students? new to students new to discipline content fixed content unknown teacher chooses question student is free to decide question inquiry is closed-ended/ well-defined inquiry is open-ended task is highly teacher- structured task unstructured -student decides structure student determines outcome & audience teacher sets outcome What knowledge?

15 Research-based learning decision-making What skills? Which students? new to students new to discipline content fixed content unknown teacher chooses question student is free to decide question inquiry is closed-ended/ well-defined inquiry is open-ended task is highly teacher- structured task unstructured -student decides structure student determines outcome & audience teacher sets outcome What knowledge?

16 RSD Framework Link www

17 Research in the curriculum 1.Assignments and tutorials within specific subjects 2.Whole courses or programs, for example across year levels 3.At whole of degree level e.g. PBL, IBL

18 Total counts – raw data The Sydney Basin Aerobiology Survey: Involving students in a current research program, as part of the first year Biology curriculum Charlotte Taylor (School of Biological Sciences, The University of Sydney ) and Brett Green (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA)

19 Example 1: Fungal Spores What skills? Which students? new to students new to discipline content fixed content unknown teacher chooses question student is free to decide question inquiry is closed-ended/ well-defined inquiry is open-ended task is highly teacher- structured task unstructured -student decides structure student determines outcome & audience teacher sets outcome What knowledge?

20 Example 2: History of Chlorine What skills? Which students? new to students new to discipline content fixed content unknown teacher chooses question student is free to decide question inquiry is closed-ended/ well-defined inquiry is open-ended task is highly teacher- structured task unstructured -student decides structure student determines outcome & audience teacher sets outcome What knowledge?

21 Research-based learning decision-making What skills? Which students? new to students new to discipline content fixed content unknown teacher chooses question student is free to decide question inquiry is closed-ended/ well-defined inquiry is open-ended task is highly teacher- structured task unstructured -student decides structure student determines outcome & audience teacher sets outcome What knowledge?

22 What needs to change? Course organisation structures: from individuals to course teams Module flexibility Vertical integration Ideas about research and who is capable of doing it Teaching spaces

23 Example 3: Research experience programs

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25 m/2009/01/04/educati on/edlife/ideas- ubershelter- t.html?ref=edlife Rafael Smith: The Über Shelter

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27 Undergraduate research experience programs in Australia 1.Undergraduate research experience programs are widespread in Australian universities, being present in 23 of the 39 universities. 2.There is a strong emphasis on the STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) disciplines although programs in other disciplines do exist. 3.Programs target elite undergraduates, and tend to focus on senior undergraduates (third-year and above), 4.The primary aim of the programs is to maintain and grow a pipeline of undergraduates progressing into Honours and HDR programs. 5.The majority of programs are recent and growing initiatives dating from the mid-2000s onwards. 6.Programs operate on several different administrative levels and structural models; but there is a trend towards creating Institution funded schemes offered on a university-wide basis.

28 7.Student numbers in the programs, though small in comparison to national student enrolments, are still significant ( students) and increasing in some programs. 8.Outcomes in terms of undergraduate student experiences are yet to be formally evaluated in most programs and the learning value of the programs tends not to be emphasised or evaluated. 9.Funding is the primary challenge for the future of the programs, both in terms of sustainability and growth; 10.Government funding is lacking or entirely absent in most programs. 11.Academic supervisors receive little financial or formal academic recognition from central university administrations or research funding bodies for their role in the programs, and the impact of undergraduate research within their own research projects is unknown.

29 University of Michigan top 10 reasons to consider participation in research experiences for undergraduates Source: Hanover Research Council, USA Summer research opportunities for undergraduates: trends and best practices. Hanover Research Council, Academic administration practice. Washington DC. USA.

30 Example 3: Undergraduate research experience What skills? Which students? new to students new to discipline content fixed content unknown teacher chooses question student is free to decide question inquiry is closed-ended/ well-defined inquiry is open-ended task is highly teacher- structured task unstructured -student decides structure student determines outcome & audience teacher sets outcome What knowledge?

31 Example 4: The course conference What skills? Which students? new to students new to discipline content fixed content unknown teacher chooses question student is free to decide question inquiry is closed-ended/ well-defined inquiry is open-ended task is highly teacher- structured task unstructured -student decides structure student determines outcome & audience teacher sets outcome What knowledge?

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34 Outline Why engage first year students in research and inquiry and how does this fit in with other MQ initiatives? Framework for research-based learning decision-making Examples of practice Next steps

35 THEMES AND ISSUES How to assess inquiry-based learning How to establish an undergraduate scholars research program Does the system of modular units help or inhibit the development of inquiry-based approaches to teaching and learning How to deal with issues relating to research ethics How to foster critical enquiry among students How to deal with the myth that students just want lectures How to engage large groups of students in research and inquiry Funding excellence in integrating research and teaching Time and workload issues Ensuring students study the prerequisites Students motivation and preparedness Can all students participate in research? Is research only for high achieving students? The role of undergraduate research in different kinds of institutions The role of undergraduate research in regional Australia encouraging under-represented groups into graduate study Training the next generation of researchers and academics How to progressively develop research across the whole curriculum How to specify open-ended learning outcomes Who defines the research questions and how?

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37 The path I am setting out…raises the expectations we have of our young people and their parents and of our great institutions. It asks them to be bolder and more ambitious in what can and should be achieved (Hon Julia Gillard MP 4th March 2009)

38 What will you personally do in your own context to further this agenda? What are the challenges you face?

39 Brew, A. (2006). Research and Teaching: Beyond the Divide. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Jenkins, A, Breen, R., & Lindsay, R. & Brew, A. (2003). Reshaping Teaching in Higher Education : Linking Teaching and Research. London: Kogan Page. Brew, A. (2001). The nature of research: inquiry in academic contexts. London, RoutledgeFalmer. Brew, A., & Sachs, J. (Eds.). (2007). Transforming a University: The scholarship of teaching and learning in practice. Sydney: Sydney University Press.


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