Presentation on theme: "Can first year students do real research?"— Presentation transcript:
1 Can first year students do real research? Professor Angela BrewLearning and Teaching CentreCHECK LINKS BEFORE BEGINNINGI want to suggest that teaching and learning in higher education is in crisis.And that in thinking about teaching and learning for the fututure, we have to do a fundamental rethink of what we are doing and the needs of our students in the twenty-first century.I don’t want to denigrate the excellent work that the contributors to this colloquium have been doing. However, I believe we all have to go further; to fundamentally re-think the nature of higher education.
3 Some of the problems of the undergraduate curriculum An overcrowded curriculum stuffed with contentLarge classesDisengaged students who don’t see the relevance of higher education for their current and future livesBored students who just want to get the degree and leave because they are not intellectually challenged.We all recognise the problems. Disaffected students who are not engaged in their study are commonplace. People always talk about the size of classes. The curriculum has become overcrowded. Expansion of knowledge means that it is stuffed with too much content.Students tend to be disengaged. Many don’t see the relevance of higher education for their current and future lives.Students tend to be bored. Many just want to get the degree and leave because they are not intellectually challenged.The result is that we are educating students in ways that are much more suited to school or TAFE because we have failed to take account of the needs of students in today’s society.
4 Information Transmission Teaching and LearningInquiry focusedTeacher focusedInformation TransmissionStudent focusedConceptual Change(Prosser & Trigwell 1999)Academic developers such as myself have been helping people to move from a teacher-focused approach to teaching where the focus is on passing content to the students; to a focus on the student and their learning and where we are aiming to change the students’ ideas about the things they’re studying through active engagement. A key element in changes in teaching and learning over the last 30 years or so in many countries has been this shift from a teaching focus to a learning focused higher education and this, I think, is a positive shiftBut I want to suggest we have to go further; to add to the teacher-focused and student-focused views, what I have called scholar-focused learning and teaching. Where students and academics learn together and where the focus of both is on understanding aspects of a complex, ambiguous and pluralistic world.Global understanding
5 OutlineWhy engage first year students in research and inquiry and how does this fit in with other MQ initiatives?Framework for research-based learning decision-makingExamples of practiceNext stepsSo why? Why is this important?In my talk, I hope to show why we need to engage undergraduates as scholars with us in higher education.Then I’ll address the question of how we can begin to do this. I want to use a framework for research-based learning decision-making that I am developing.I’ll present some examples of practice showing how they fit the framework and finally, we shall consider what are the next steps to be taken.
6 Why is this so important? A few months ago I was at a conference listening to a paper on the way the educational media represented female academics. As we listened and discussed, a young woman in the audience was on Twitter. She tweeted the issue and received a reply from one of the editors of the top educational press in the UK. The content of the tweets is not important here. This story draws attention to the fact that the students in the audience of our lectures, might be simultaneously talking to the world expert on the very subject that the lecture is on. Students live in an electronic world which includes any communication, on demand wherever and whenever it is wanted. TV, radio podcasts, vodcasts, Web2 these things are not timetabled.If students want to know something they have instant access to answers through the internet.They’re free to decide what knowledge they want and they’re free to contribute to it.
7 Students need the skills of critical analysis Students need the skills of critical analysis. They need to be able to produce knowledge and to critically evaluate it; to make rational judgments in the light of good evidence & to reflect on what they are doing & why. They need to develop the confidence to know that they can deal with ambiguity and complexity.Questions, not answers, are central to today’s society. It is a society that demands the ability to question; to deal with the unknown.
8 High impact educational practices (Kuh, 2008)First year seminars and experiencesCommon intellectual experiencesLearning communitiesWriting-intensive coursesCollaborative assignments and projectsUndergraduate researchDiversity/global learningService learning, community-based learningInternshipsCapstone courses and projectsInvolving undergraduates in research provides exciting ways to meet this agenda.We know this through the research that has been done on what students gain from engaging in research and inquiry -based learning,An analysis of the American survey of student engagement carried out by George Kuh, has suggested 10 “High impact” educational practices that improve students’ engagement. Undergraduate research is one of these “high impact” practices.
9 High impact educational practices (Kuh, 2008)First year seminars and experiencesCommon intellectual experiencesLearning communitiesWriting-intensive coursesCollaborative assignments and projectsUndergraduate researchDiversity/global learningService learning, community-based learningInternshipsCapstone courses and projectsInvolving undergraduates in research provides exciting ways to meet this agenda.We know this through the research that has been done on what students gain from engaging in research and inquiry -based learning,An analysis of the American survey of student engagement carried out by George Kuh, has suggested 10 “High impact” educational practices that improve students’ engagement. Undergraduate research is one of these “high impact” practices.
10 Enhancing student engagement through research-based learning Students adopt deep approaches to learning in a PBL curriculumEngaging in research has a positive impact on retention and satisfactionStudents learn what research is and how to do itThey develop a sense of professional identityIncreases in self confidenceDevelops of advanced technical skills, problem solving, creative thinking and communication skills e. g. giving presentationsDevelops independent work habitsEnhances teamwork and collaborationAbility to deal with ambiguity and obstaclesClarifies career goalsMany studies of what students gain through undergraduate research experiences show convincingly that:Students adopt deep approaches to learning in a PBL curriculumEngaging in research has a positive impact on retention and satisfactionStudents learn what research is and how to do itThey develop a sense of professional identityIncreases self confidenceDevelops of advanced technical skills, problem solving, creative thinking and communication skills e. g. giving presentationsDevelops independent work habitsEnhances teamwork and collaborationAbility to deal with ambiguity and obstaclesClarifies career goals10
11 OutlineWhy engage first year students in research and inquiry and how does this fit in with other MQ initiatives?Framework for research-based learning decision-makingExamples of practiceNext stepsSo that’s a bit about why engaging first year students in research and inquiry is important.If you are with me so far, the next question is yes, but how do we do it? How do we even begin?This is where my decision-making wheel comes in.
12 Aim of my FellowshipTo enhance student engagement in learning through supporting the development in Australia of undergraduate research and inquiryJust to say, in 2009 I was funded on a full-time National Teaching Fellowship from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council. My Fellowship was aimed at enhancing 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)This is the way I define research-based learning – based on Beckman & Hensel.
14 Research-based learning decision-making content unknowncontent fixedto decide questionstudent is freenew to disciplineteacher choosesquestionnewtostudentsWhat knowledge?Which students?highly teacher-task isstructuredteacheroutcomesetsstudent determinesoutcome & audienceWhat skills?unstructured -studentdecides structuretaskI’ve been trying to think of a way to present the different decisions that need to be taken when thinking about a scholar-focused higher education. There are a number of frameworks in the literature; but I don’t think that any one of them captures all of the different dimensions. I’m not sure this diagram does either. But let’s see what is included.Whatever you are doing, the very first thing that needs to be decided is what students it is appropriate to engage in various forms of research-based learning. It’s obvious when we are thinking of Honours students, but given what I have suggested about the kind of higher education that all students need to be engaged in, we need to think about extending that downwards even to first year students. The decisions we make are likely to be different depending on the level and orientation of the students, and of course the discipline, so let me invite you to think of a specific group of students as a starting point for thinking about engaging them in research-based learning. Of course, if you already do this, you might think of a different student group as I’m going through this.inquiry is closed-ended/well-definedinquiry is open-ended
15 Research-based learning decision-making content unknowncontent fixedto decide questionstudent is freenew to disciplineteacher choosesquestionnewtostudentsWhat knowledge?Which students?highly teacher-task isstructuredteacheroutcomesetsstudent determinesoutcome & audienceWhat skills?unstructured -studentdecides structuretaskHaving decided on the students, we have to think about what we want them to know and to do. Different ideas about content and the students’ capabilities are going to influence what we think is possible or desirable for them. So thinking about the knowledge students are developing, do you have in mind a fixed body of knowledge that students need to learn or is the process of inquiry the important point, with students being free to decide their own topic and to learn something that particularly interests them. GO THROUGH ALL THE OTHER SEGMENTS.In this diagram, the more structured aspects of research-based learning are towards the centre. But that doesn’t mean that structured and unstructured approaches can’t be mixed.As the following examples show.inquiry is closed-ended/well-definedinquiry is open-ended
16 RSD FrameworkLinkwwwThe idea of all students at different levels being engaged in some form of research and inquiry is the spirit behind the Research Skills development framework developed by John Willison and colleagues at the University of Adelaide.[LINK] It attempts to define different levels at which students might engage in different ways in different years.[explain and explain how used]
17 Research in the curriculum Assignments and tutorials within specific subjectsWhole courses or programs, for example across year levelsAt whole of degree level e.g. PBL, IBLIf we’re thinking of research within the curriculum.Perhaps the simplest first step to start is by designing assignments or activities to engage students within specific subjects [2,3,4,5]Whole courses or programs, for example across year levels At whole of degree level e.g. PBL, IBL [6, but also Medical education]]
18 Total counts – raw dataThe Sydney Basin Aerobiology Survey:Involving students in a current research program, as part of the first year Biology curriculumCharlotte 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)In first year Biology at the University of Sydney, Each student is given a little Petri dish and they put this in their back yards over a 24 hour period and collect all the fungal spores in the atmosphere. There are 1000 students in the class and they live all over the Sydney metropolitan area. This map shows the number of samples they collected. There are over 700 in the red area. They bring the samples back to the lab and grow them. The results are mapped onto a geophysical map. This generates new knowledge which is now being published in a scientific journal. Dr Charlotte Taylor describes a 1000 students as an “ideal” size of research team for carrying out research of this nature!
19 Example 1: Fungal Spores content unknownÖÖcontent fixedto decide questionstudent is freenew to disciplineÖteacher choosesquestionnewtostudentsWhat knowledge?ÖWhich students?highly teacher-task isstructuredteacheroutcomesetsstudent determinesoutcome & audienceÖunstructured -studentdecides structuretaskSome other examples:Students engage in inquiry during induction week. Working in small groups, geographers and sociologists research the experience of Gloucester residents of the 2007 flood. Biologists and psychologists investigate primate behaviour at a local zoo, while English literature students explore the use of trees in literature at the botanical gardens (University of Gloucestershire, UK).First year students investigate the way different pharmacist shops are laid out. They pool their responses and in doing so learn about important aspects associated with the practice of pharmacy (University of Sydney, Australia). Groups of four or five first year media studies students undertake small-scale field research into student television viewing habits. Their findings are compared with available research findings on television viewing for a general youth audience (University of Gloucestershire, England). In a first year undergraduate course in classical mythology, students individually research and write a ‘Homeric Hymn’ to a Greco-Roman god or goddess. They first have to research what a ‘Homeric Hymn’ is and then they have to research their chosen god or goddess and write the results of their research in such a hymn (University of Sydney, Australia). In a problem-based learning first year undergraduate computer science course, students engage in the design of computer software which requires simulation of a complex system, for example, planning and managing checkouts in a supermarket, managing a biodiversity survey, managing information for an entertainment advisor, managing activities for Olympic participants, managing the data for a school timetable or managing a product inventory for a computer vendor. Students begin by working on a simple problem and learn how to work in teams. They then, in groups, research their chosen topic and the computer code needed to develop the simulation. Each simulation requires that students collaboratively write a small core of essential code and then develop that so that the simulation can cope with ever more complex situations (University of Sydney, Australia).So applying these to our decision wheel we can see that much of this is closed and teacher-defined. But the outcomes have been new knowledge of the discipline.What skills?ÖÖinquiry is closed-ended/well-definedinquiry is open-ended
20 Example 2: History of Chlorine content unknownÖÖcontent fixedto decide questionstudent is freenew to disciplineteacher choosesquestionnewtostudentsWhat knowledge?ÖWhich students?highly teacher-task isstructuredteacheroutcomesetsstudent determinesoutcome & audienceWhat skills?Öunstructured -studentdecides structuretaskÖAnother example where the research that undergraduates do is considered a to be a routine part of their course work comes from Hasok Chang from University College London. The idea here is that all the students work on independent research projects that share a common theme, for example, the history of the chemical element chlorine. At the end of the year students’ project work including reading notes, results of literature searches, photocopies of materials obtained, data, laboratory notes, annotated bibliographies, reports etc., is made available for the next year’s group of students.This work has now been published.inquiry is closed-ended/well-definedÖinquiry is open-ended
21 Research-based learning decision-making content unknowncontent fixedto decide questionstudent is freenew to disciplineteacher choosesquestionnewtostudentsWhat knowledge?Which students?highly teacher-task isstructuredteacheroutcomesetsstudent determinesoutcome & audienceWhat skills?unstructured -studentdecides structuretaskWould someone like to share an example with us?Let’s see how it fits the decision wheel.inquiry is closed-ended/well-definedinquiry is open-ended
22 What needs to change?Course organisation structures: from individuals to course teamsModule flexibilityVertical integrationIdeas about research and who is capable of doing itTeaching spacesIf we are to seriously think about involving students in scholar-focused research and inquiry then we have to think about what things have to change.For example, course organisation structures. From individuals to course teamsModule flexibilityVertical integrationIdeas about research and who is capable of doing itIt also means we have to rethink teaching spaces?
23 Example 3: Research experience programs In 2009 I toured the US to talk to people engaged in undergraduate research. What I have found is that many instances are in the so-called STEM disciplines where students typically work in science laboratories. Like the Mars explorer. Typically in these disciplines, the researcher initiates the project and defines the question that the students investigate and indeed there’s an art to defining a question for an undergraduate that is appropriate for their level of skills and knowledge and for the period of time - typically a summer vacation, that the student is to be engaged in the project.
24 This is a picture of the vehicle that was used in 2007 to explore the surface of Mars. Some of you may have seen this before.What’s interesting about this picture is that the research to find the most appropriate site to land on Mars was done not by an expert team of scientists, but by an undergraduate student. Three further undergraduate students built and programmed the arms that were used to scoop up the soil from the surface.
25 On a vacation in Manila, Rafael Smith, an undergraduate student at Purdue University, was shocked by the living conditions of those in poverty. When he got home, he began researching the architecture of shelters around the world. With no previous knowledge of refugee camps, he sought the advice of doctors, policy makers, aid workers, and a Sudanese refugee he met online.The Über Shelter fixes some of the problems that have plagued large refugee camps. It unfolds into a two-story home equipped with solar-powered electricity and complete with lights, stove, porch and a small refrigerator. Because it can hold two families, one on each floor, the camp size can be reduced by half. The unit, which unfurls to roughly the size of a truck, is made of lightweight recyclable aluminium, so it can be cheaply transported by car or parachuted in to a disaster area.Rafael Smith: The Über Shelter
26 My Fellowship also included an undergraduate research project = to examine the extent of undergraduate research in Australia. We set up a system to appoint an undergraduate in collaboration with the undergraduate scholarships office. We received 35 applications and eventually awarded a scholarship to Evan Jewell. He then took responsibility for how the research was carried out.Investigation initially took the form of internet searches of the websites of 39 Australian universities, and 31 external bodies funding undergraduate research. This was followed up with s and telephone conversations with over 100 university academics and administrators, and representatives from external funding bodies.Undergraduate research experience programs were those where:students are enrolled at undergraduate level in an Australian university; andthey are engaged in short term formally advertised and supervised research and inquiry projects; and,students receive remuneration for the time spent researching; andresearch is conducted outside the formal curriculum. These criteria exclude unpaid voluntary research work, informal agreements between staff and students, research activities carried out within coursework, and honours projects. They also, of course, exclude postgraduate research.
27 Undergraduate research experience programs in Australia Undergraduate research experience programs are widespread in Australian universities, being present in 23 of the 39 universities.There is a strong emphasis on the STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) disciplines although programs in other disciplines do exist.Programs target elite undergraduates, and tend to focus on senior undergraduates (third-year and above),The primary aim of the programs is to maintain and grow a pipeline of undergraduates progressing into Honours and HDR programs.The majority of programs are recent and growing initiatives dating from the mid-2000s onwards.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.Information was collected on the history, scope, and extent of programs; the disciplines of operation; program structures, aims and outcomes, arrangements for academic engagement and support, rewards and recognition; funding and perceived challenges of each program. A thematic analysis was then undertaken.Here are some of the findings.
28 Student numbers in the programs, though small in comparison to national student enrolments, are still significant ( students) and increasing in some programs.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.Funding is the primary challenge for the future of the programs, both in terms of sustainability and growth;Government funding is lacking or entirely absent in most programs.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 undergraduatesWhy should we engage in an undergraduate research experiences program? What do we gain?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 content unknownÖÖcontent fixedto decide questionstudent is freeÖnew to disciplineteacher choosesquestionnewtostudentsWhat knowledge?ÖWhich students?Öhighly teacher-task isstructuredteacheroutcomesetsstudent determinesoutcome & audienceWhat skills?unstructured -studentdecides structuretaskÖIf we apply this example to the decision-wheel, we get yet another pattern. – go through the ticks.inquiry is closed-ended/well-definedÖinquiry is open-ended
31 Example 4: The course conference content unknownÖcontent fixedto decide questionstudent is freeÖnew to disciplineteacher choosesquestionnewtostudentsWhat knowledge?ÖWhich students?highly teacher-task isstructuredteacheroutcomesetsstudent determinesoutcome & audienceÖunstructured -studentdecides structuretaskAt the University of Southampton, students of multimedia systems, research an aspect of the future of multimedia. The students chose their topics and then presented an abstract for approval to the tutors. They had carried out their research and then presented their draft papers for assessment. This was done as is normal for conference papers, through a process of peer review. Each student reviewed six papers and had written a critical review of one of them. At this point the students chose who was going to present a verbal paper and who a poster presentation. At the conference which was attended by some industry representatives, there were some very polished verbal presentations; interesting too. I’m still intrigued by the futuristic car navigation systems presented by one student. The posters too were generally informative. I was impressed by the enthusiasm that the students had for explaining about their chosen subject and I learnt a lot during the day. One student said that in doing the work for the conference he had developed a new research interest.What skills?Öinquiry is closed-ended/well-definedÖinquiry is open-ended
32 There are now lots of such events where undergraduate students present their research work. We have seen that the outcome can be very different and the audience for the research might be varied. It may be that students present their research for their peers in a seminar or presentation session first. However, it may be that the community including professionals and industrialists might be invited,[CONFERENCE BOOKLETS]Marketing departments like these kinds of events because they can use these kinds of resources for attracting new students.
33 Here are some pictures of online and paper-based undergraduate research journals. These are further examples of research leading to products. In this case, journal publication.There is a list of journals that Australian undergraduates can contribute to on our website.
34 OutlineWhy engage first year students in research and inquiry and how does this fit in with other MQ initiatives?Framework for research-based learning decision-makingExamples of practiceNext stepsSo having talked quite a bit about what implementing undergraduate research means and given some examples, I want to raise questions about how we might move forward. I want to ask what do you need? What are the challenges you personally face?
35 THEMES AND ISSUES How to assess inquiry-based learning How to establish an undergraduate scholars’ research programDoes the system of modular units help or inhibit the development of inquiry-based approaches to teaching and learningHow to deal with issues relating to research ethicsHow to foster critical enquiry among studentsHow to deal with the myth that students just want lecturesHow to engage large groups of students in research and inquiryFunding excellence in integrating research and teachingTime and workload issuesEnsuring students study the prerequisitesStudents’ motivation and preparednessCan all students participate in research?Is research only for high achieving students?The role of undergraduate research in different kinds of institutionsThe role of undergraduate research in regional Australiaencouraging under-represented groups into graduate studyTraining the next generation of researchers and academicsHow to progressively develop research across the whole curriculumHow to specify open-ended learning outcomesWho defines the research questions and how?
36 ConclusionA spirit of inquiry is fundamental to the creation of a just and open society.Engaging undergraduate students in research and inquiry is to provide students with a higher education that is meaningful, which develops important graduate attributes, and prepares them for a twenty-first century world of work in which knowing how to inquire and how to generate and critically evaluate knowledge is of increasing importance.We need our graduates to be able to solve a range of unforeseen problems, to be able to cope with the ambiguity and complexity of today’s society. We need them to be able to generate new kinds of knowledge so that they can contribute to their chosen professions in significant ways.Undergraduate research provides exciting ways to meet this agenda so I hope I have given some ideas about how to move forward.
37 (Hon Julia Gillard MP 4th March 2009) “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)In a historic week which has seen a new prime minister, it seems appropriate to quote from her response to the Bradley Review of higher education at the beginning of last year. Julia Gillard asked us to be bolderThe 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)So let me invite you to be bolder; to accept the challenge of radically changing what we ask and expect of students.
38 What are the challenges you face? What will you personally do in your own context to further this agenda?What are the challenges you face?
39 Brew, A., & Sachs, J. (Eds.). (2007). Transforming a University: The scholarship of teaching and learning in practice. Sydney: Sydney University Press.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.