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Students as Researchers (STaRs) A Coventry University Add+Vantage module Alun Evans: Katie Hartless Rose:

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Presentation on theme: "Students as Researchers (STaRs) A Coventry University Add+Vantage module Alun Evans: Katie Hartless Rose:"— Presentation transcript:

1 Students as Researchers (STaRs) A Coventry University Add+Vantage module Alun Evans: Katie Hartless Rose:

2 What is CUReS? What are Add+vantage modules at Coventry University and their emphasis of employability? Integrating students into the university research culture and helping them become active stakeholders in research community. Issues of student engagement and perception in the Add+vantage scheme and the module

3 CUReS is an institutional and applied research office within Coventry University that exists outside of the faculty system. Amongst the IR and AR activities, we deliver ‘StARs’ which aims to introduce students to multi-disciplinary research methods through exposure to and involvement in ‘live’ research projects. Students undergo a ten week ‘placement’ followed by a poster presentation assessment

4 The Add+Vantage Scheme has been developed to allow undergraduate students improve their employability whilst at university. It includes one mandatory module each year of the degree course, and will: 1. Enable students to choose modules to enhance their career prospects. 2. Help students gain work-related knowledge and skills and develop their employability competencies. 3. Help students stand out in the marketplace when applying for job opportunities. 4. Help students perform more effectively and ‘hit the ground running’ within the workplace.

5 Kelly Flower “From this module, I have learnt that no matter what the subject is, the research skills you can build can be universal. In particular, how much research needs to be undertaken before any analysis can happen, attention to detail when collating the research, different ways to analyse the research and how to produce a suitable research poster. Completing this module will be very helpful in my final year as I have to complete a final year project, which could be lab or questionnaire based. Each of these will require extensive research prior and during the process. I feel I now have a good knowledge of techniques needed to undertake this process.”


7 Dr Matthew Blackett "I found having a student take part in this module very useful from my part, undertaking research which relieved me for other things, but I am in no doubt that the student also found it worthwhile. Initially, progress was slow as the student had no familiarity with the topic (volcanic activity!) but she soon got up to speed and I was told by her that the statistics she had learned would be of great use to her in her 'normal' degree"

8 Kristopher Rennison "The Level 2 Students as Researchers Add+Vantage module was an easy choice for me as it complimented my course and gave me hands-on experience of conducting/contributing to a real research project. Not only did I get to practice my skills as a researcher, but it also provided a useful addition to my CV. Graduate jobs in the science industry are few and far between in the current economic climate, and being able to say that you have prior experience in conducting research can only be a good thing. The module itself was intellectually stimulating and was convenient as there were only two set sessions - the introduction and the concluding presentation. The other sessions were flexibly arranged by my project manager, enabling me to fit the module well around my existing studies. As a whole, the module gave me a guided overview of the general skills and procedures required to conduct a basic research project, which is key groundwork knowledge in a number of disciplines."


10 Marcus was a social sciences student who was asked to look at replication and standardisation within political science. In order to achieve this, he undertook a small-scale research project to look how journals dealt with replication of results. Marcus struggled initially to understand the idea of replication and why it would be applicable to political sciences, but he really applied himself to the task to produce a strong and useful research output. During his assessment presentation, Marcus expressed that he had learnt far more about research methods through this module than through the dedicated module on his course.


12 Tom Fisher: “The module is a good opportunity to get students involved in a non- teaching part of the University and also to give them a taste of what is important in the workplace. For me, it has been an overall positive experience as it has provided an introduction to different roles such as supervision, mentoring and teaching which I wouldn’t have necessarily gained in my role otherwise. It is important to note, however, that there are two significant challenges in the module. The first is that the success depends wholly on the individual student and that one negative experience with a disengaged student can easily take away any benefits for staff members. The second is that the image of the wider Add+vantage module has been eroded over time and students see it as unimportant as a result – this makes it very difficult to gain any buy-in or commitment from the students. Providing, however, that you have a good student who you can motivate, it’s a very worthwhile exercise for staff and students alike.”

13 Quotes from evaluations of module: ‘Presentation helped me with my confidence’ ‘Good opportunity to work independently and at own pace, chance to work on different topics from others on course’ ‘Broadens skills’ ‘Good opportunity to manage my time, interesting to look at things outside my degree.’ ‘Couple of lectures on research methodology would help’ ‘Better matched to student’s requirements’ ‘More input to explain what’s expected, a supportive supervisor, help to produce poster’.

14 Intention vs reality? Staff gain valuable research outputs from the students – we get a lot of repeat requests for StARs students Students express that they have learned a lot from the experience and that they can apply their knowledge to their third year – research methods in particular Students also gain confidence through being exposed to a research environment and through giving a presentation to their peers and the research staff Helps to integrate research-only staff into the wider teaching community at CU A potential disconnect between student perceptions and the employability focus?

15 Any thoughts/feedback?

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