Presentation on theme: "1. Abstract Research skills need to be developed early in order to adequately prepare undergraduates for ‘capstone,’ final project or dissertation research."— Presentation transcript:
1. Abstract Research skills need to be developed early in order to adequately prepare undergraduates for ‘capstone,’ final project or dissertation research. This poster considers the rationale for embedding research and inquiry skills early in the undergraduate geography curriculum and for making these skills explicit to students. It provides two institutional case studies illustrating research skills development in the geography curricula. By embedding research skill development early and frequently, scaffolding provided throughout a degree programme can support all geography students as they become producers of knowledge. Helen Walkington 1 & Derek France 2 1.Department of Anthropology and Geography, Oxford Brookes University, Headington, Oxford OX3 0BP, UK. 2. Department of Geography and Development Studies, University of Chester, Chester CH1 4BJ, UK, Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org@email@example.com In association with: Amy L. Griffin, Lisa Keys-Mathews, Sandra K. Metoyer, Wendy E. Miller, Richard Baker Embedding Research Skills in the Pre-Honours Undergraduate Geography Curriculum 4. Conclusion Enquiry based learning can help to draw students into a community of practice, both within a discipline, within the curriculum and within the broader university, by providing a shared experience upon which students can draw (Garde-Hansen & Calvert, 2007). The two case studies are drawn from a collection (Walkington et al., in submission) in which the associated authors have provided best practice examples that demonstrate the importance of embedding research experiences in order to scaffold an understanding of the research process for undergraduates. 2.Theoretical framework The Boyer Commission’s (1998) call for greater undergraduate engagement in research has been heard by many university systems around the world. A body of literature has documented the advantages to students of engaging with research (McGuinness & Simm, 2003; Walkington, 2008a, 2008b; Healey & Jenkins, 2009). There is a growing recognition that research skills are essential for all students because knowing how to critically evaluate information and to inquire is of increasing importance (Brew, 2006) and research skills are required for graduates to function effectively in an increasingly complex world. 3. Skills Our conceptualisation of research skills is that they exist along a continuum from simple to complex. Simpler research skills are less interdependent whereas complex research skills are at the interface between three broad and overlapping skill sets: critical thinking; analytical skills; and emotional intelligence. Table 1 identifies the research skills and the extent to which they are interdependent under these broad skill sets. For example, the ability to take on board constructive criticism (point 8 in Table 1) requires emotional intelligence and critical thinking. In general key research skills align with the six facets of Willison and O’Regan’s (2007) Research Skill Development Framework and the sequence of research skills mirrors the research process but research skill acquisition does not have to be linear. Nevertheless, there is an assumption that all of the underlying research skills are needed for autonomous research. Figure 1 illustrates some of the practical opportunities open to Chester students to practice and develop researcher skills Figure 1. Chester students participating in Human & Physical Geography research projects. Case Study 1: University of Chester Understanding the research process A key to successful researcher skills development for students is an understanding of the. The Enquiry and Research Design module scaffolds this understanding for students so that they arrive at the final year dissertation as well prepared as possible. Year 2 term 1: Students work in small self-selecting groups on projects to develop research objectives and collect primary data (see Figure 1) on a range of topics. This is supported through fieldwork and weekly methodological workshops or laboratory sessions. Students submit an individual 2,000 word report, which demonstrates their understanding of the underpinning research philosophies and methodologies through the analysis of primary data. Year 2 term 2: Students work individually with tutors on pre-defined or self- directed research topics. A literature review is used to generate research questions. Regular small group tutorials provide students with a mechanism to share and get feedback on their ideas and findings through annotated bibliographies and informal discussions. Finally, students submit a 2,000 word research proposal for a hypothetical dissertation topic, identifying specific research aims, activities, ethical considerations, health and safety issues and a research question with associated literature. A key to successful researcher skills development for students is an understanding of the research process, from thinking critically about research questions to taking a research proposal forward to a dissertation project Council on Undergraduate Research. International perspectives on undergraduate research and inquiry: a scholarly discussion. Pre-ISSOTL Seminar, Liverpool, UK, 19 October 2010 Table 1: Groupings of undergraduate research skills. Case Study 2: Oxford Brookes University Scaffolded research skills development At Oxford Brookes University an institutional commitment has been developed to embed undergraduate research pathways through all degree programmes (Huggins et al., 2007). The geography programme includes a carefully scaffolded progression of activities to develop research skills incrementally. Year 1: Desktop research to try to answer provided research questions. Year 2: Students frame their own questions for team-based data collection in the field. Student teams present their preliminary findings to a panel of faculty as a formative feedback exercise. This precedes the summative assessment several weeks later in a conference style event. Year 3, Semester 1: The individual authoring of journal articles based on the collected field data is mentored by a tutor, with the best work being published in GEOverse, an online journal (Walkington, 2008a; 2008b). All these activities take place before students complete their dissertations. A departmental research conference to showcase student research findings (see Figure 2) is attended by students from all year groups, helping to create a sense of identity as geography researchers (McGuinness & Simm, 2003; Walkington & Rushton, 2008). Figure 2: Showcasing student research at Oxford Brookes University 5. References Brew, A. (2006) Research and teaching: beyond the divide (London: Palgrave Macmillan). Garde-Hansen, J. & Calvert, B. (2007) Developing a research culture in the undergraduate curriculum, Active Learning in Higher Education, 8(2), pp. 105-116. Healey, M. & Jenkins, A. (2009) Developing undergraduate research and inquiry. Available at http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents/resources/publications/DevelopingUndergraduate_Final.pdf Huggins, R., Jenkins, A. & Scurry, D. (2007) Developing undergraduate research at Oxford Brookes University. Recommendations and models for future development. Available at: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/sociology/research/cetl/ugresearch/developing_ug_research_at_brookes.pdf http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/sociology/research/cetl/ugresearch/developing_ug_research_at_brookes.pdf Knight, P., & Yorke, M. (2004) Learning, curriculum and employability in higher education (London: Routledge). McGuinness, M. & Simm, D. (2003) Linking teaching and research through departmental research conferences for student project work, Planet, Special Edition 5, pp. 21-24. Walkington, H. (2008a) Geoverse: piloting a National e-journal of undergraduate research in Geography, PLANET, 20, pp. 41-46. Walkington, H. (2008b) Quality enhancement of the student experience through undergraduate research opportunities - the impact of undergraduate research journals. Available at http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/resources/detail/events/conference/Ann_conf_2008_Helen_Walkington http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/resources/detail/events/conference/Ann_conf_2008_Helen_Walkington Walkingotn, H., Griffin, A. L., Keys-Mathews, L., Metoyer, S.K., Miller, W.E., Baker, R., and France, D. (in submission) Embedding research-based learning and inquiry in the undergraduate geography curriculum. Journal of Geography in Higher Education. Walkington, H., & Jenkins, A. (2008). Embedding undergraduate research publication in the student learning experience: Ten suggested strategies, Brookes E-journal of learning and Teaching, 2(3), http://bejlt.brookes.ac.uk/article/embedding_undergraduate_research_publication_in_the_student_learning_experi/ http://bejlt.brookes.ac.uk/article/embedding_undergraduate_research_publication_in_the_student_learning_experi/ Walkington, H. & Rushton, E. (2008) Undergraduate research conference. A first for the department of Anthropology and Geography, Teaching News, 2(2), pp. 11-12. Willison, J. & O’Regan, K. (2007) Commonly known, commonly not known, totally unknown: a framework for students becoming researchers, Higher Education Research and Development, 26(4), pp. 393-409.