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Dr John Willison Centre for Learning and Professional Development University of Adelaide 'Igniting the fire: how we help students to initiate research’

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Presentation on theme: "Dr John Willison Centre for Learning and Professional Development University of Adelaide 'Igniting the fire: how we help students to initiate research’"— Presentation transcript:

1 Dr John Willison Centre for Learning and Professional Development University of Adelaide 'Igniting the fire: how we help students to initiate research’ A webinar for CUR, September 30, 2010. Sophie Karanicolas & Cathy Snelling School of Dentistry University of Adelaide

2 Program 13.00 Eastern Time: connectivity and introductions Mentored UGR outcomes Research Skill Development outcomes RSD in brief: Embarks and Curiosity Oral Health Examples of ‘igniting the fire’ Further possibilities 13.55 goodbyes.

3 A few instructions that may help Q1. Did you go to CUR National Conference in 2010? Q2. Did you go to a session run by Cathy or John? ==== ====

4 In mentored UGR experiences in Science Hunter, et,al (2007): Students (n=76) and faculty (n=80) interviewed 2% of faculty members observed that their students gained a capacity to identify, frame, and refine new research questions 9% of Students estimated this ability to be at a slightly higher level.

5 In your discipline/context, there are barriers to UGR students framing researchable questions or initiating research. Q. What are some barriers to students framing researchable questions in mentored UGR? ====

6 There are substantial downsides if students are not learning to frame questions or initiate research in UGR. Q. What are potential downsides if UGR students are not framing research questions/ initiating projects? ====

7 Students initiating research- what do you do to facilitate this?

8 In regular courses that explicitly developed discipline-specific research skills Willison, Le Lievre and Lee, 2010 Pre-post course Q’naires Statistically and educationally significant changes, from beginning of semester compared to end of semester Q3 ‘I am able to frame research questions in [discipline name]’ (in 8/8 undergraduate courses in Science, Health Science, Business, total of 550 students) explicit research skill development enabled students to clarify given questions, and to initiate research by posing questions.


10 In regular courses that explicitly developed student research skills (cont) Willison, Le Lievre and Lee, 2010 Year-later interviews Students asked about advantages of explicit development and assessment of research skills 14/46 (~30%) stated that the experience had developed their ability to initiate research ‘… you need to go out there and figure out what you want to research, how you are going to research it, what you need to do to find that information’ Rachel, Second Year student, reflecting on First Year


12 The facets of student research In researching, students: 1.embark on an inquiry and so determine a need for knowledge/understanding 2.find/generate needed information using appropriate methodology 3.critically evaluate information/data and the process to find/generate 4.organise information collected/generated and manage research processes 5.synthesise and analyse and apply new knowledge 6.communicate knowledge and the processes used to generate it, with an awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues. (Willison & O’Regan, 2007)

13 Human Biology Student, interviewed in 2008 about development of research skills in First Year 2007 “I felt they [assessment tasks] were definitely progressive… we could analyse what someone else did and see where they went wrong, to then researching our own topic, sort of. We were given a broad field, but we could narrow it down. Then this one [Open field-based research] here was a bit more independent. You had to figure out your own hypothesis and base your research on that. I definitely liked the progression.” Rachel, Second Year Student

14 Oral Health Examples of Igniting the flame 14

15 15 1 st Year Oral Health: students embark on inquiry

16 1 St year Human Biology – group online activity

17 2nd year Clinical Practice - essay

18 Oral Health Student Interviewed in 2009 about First year 2008 “The assignment I’m doing currently for General Health Science, that would be like level 4, level 5, and that’s obvious, because we’ve come up with everything, like, what we wanted to do, how we want to do it, what’s our aim, what’s our objectives, what research we’re trying to do.” Alex, 2 nd year student.

19 Final Year Oral Health Students Interviewed in 2010 about development of research skills "In first year our assignment was like a baptism of fire giving us the experience to research a topic we were never taught before. This was a very important step for our major assignment this year [final year] where we pick our own project and spend all year with our own group, researching our own information..." Nick, final year Bachelor of Oral Health student. " In our final year we are setting our own objectives and aims, parameters; what you want to get out of your research...we can draw our own conclusions and results." Emma, final year Bachelor of Oral Health student.

20 Other disciplines’ descriptors of ‘embarking ’ recognizes key ideas recognises gaps in the literature specifies the purpose of the laboratory research hypothesis is clear and innovative research question guides the inquiry

21 Questions & Comments

22 Discussion Explicit development of question framing/initiating in regular classes would be of benefit to students before they engage in UGR A.Not at all B.For some UGR students C.For all UGR students D.For UGR students, but also good for all students What might you do in regular classes to incrementally develop student ability to frame questions? ==== ====

23 Discussion ‘When you get that skill of being able to research, I think it sort of inspires something in you that makes you want to find out things or learn more.’ Lauren, Second year Student What do you do to promote student curiosity?

24 Facets of research worth discussing at future webinars? (Don’t worry about voting if you are not interested in subsequent webinar) A.Find information/generate data B.Evaluate information/data/process C.Organise/manage D.Analyse, synthesise, apply E.Communicate Day/Date/times? + feel free to contact us by email

25 References Hunter, A-B, Laursen, S.L., and Seymour, E. (2007). Becoming a scientist: The role of undergraduate research in students’ cognitive, personal and professional development. Science Education 91 (36-74). Willison, J., Le Lievre, K. and Lee. I. (2010). Making Research Skill Development Explicit in Coursework: five universities’ adaptation of a model to numerous disciplines. Final Report for the Australian Learning and Teaching Council. Available at 497%20Adelaide%20Willison%20Final%20Report%202010.pdf Willison, J. and O’Regan, K. (2007). Commonly known, commonly not known, totally unknown: A framework for students becoming researchers. Higher Education Research and Development 26: 393-409. Available at

26 Farewells When all have said goodbye, exit by unclicking the ‘seat belt’, bottom left-hand corner. Thanks for ‘coming’ and contributing. Hope to ‘see’ you at another webinar. Feel free to contact us by email:

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