Teaching Undergraduate Research Methods Using Action Learning Sets


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This presentation, in the HEA Innovation In The Assessment Of Social Science Research Methods series shows how Action Learning Sets are used within the Computing module Professional Practice 2 at Birmingham City University to help students to gain a practical understanding of research methods and to become prepared for their Final Year Project. Students work together to enable collaborative learning and to produce, document and present a practical research study. A fuller video presentation on this topic is available at http://thomaslancaster.co.uk/blog.

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Teaching Undergraduate Research Methods Using Action Learning Sets

  1. 1. @DrLancaster slideshare.net/ThomasLancaster 1ThomasLancaster.co.ukTeaching UndergraduateResearch Methods Using ActionLearning SetsThomas LancasterBirmingham City UniversityHEA Innovation In The Assessment Of SocialScience Research Methods
  2. 2. @DrLancaster slideshare.net/ThomasLancaster 2ThomasLancaster.co.ukComputing Background
  3. 3. @DrLancaster slideshare.net/ThomasLancaster 3ThomasLancaster.co.ukAlternative View To SocialScienceResearch methods important, but not dominant onthe Computing coursesCovered informally:Referencing/Writing/Information Finding/Core Skills/Literature/Mathematics/Analysing Data/User NeedsAnalysisCovered more formally:Used within Final Year Project
  4. 4. @DrLancaster slideshare.net/ThomasLancaster 4ThomasLancaster.co.ukMy BackgroundThomas LancasterSenior Lecturer in Computing atBirmingham City University, UKProgramme Leader BSc ComputerScienceModule Leader for ProfessionalPractice 2 UG2Former BSc Project CoordinatorResearcher into areas such asPlagiarism, Contract Cheating andeducational use of Social Media
  5. 5. @DrLancaster slideshare.net/ThomasLancaster 5ThomasLancaster.co.ukProfessional Practice 2 UG2
  6. 6. @DrLancaster slideshare.net/ThomasLancaster 6ThomasLancaster.co.ukModule OverviewLevel 5 (Year 2) module taken as part of BScComputer Science and BSc Business InformationTechnologyApproximately 120 students in 2012-2013Including Direct Entry students15 creditsTaught over 20 weeks (including one non-teaching week)
  7. 7. @DrLancaster slideshare.net/ThomasLancaster 7ThomasLancaster.co.ukDelivery StyleModule taught in groups of 20s, in 2 hour sessionsModule delivered by several staffNo separate lectureModule alternates between seminar room andcomputer roomModule based around discussions and interactionSupported by activities on Moodle
  8. 8. @DrLancaster slideshare.net/ThomasLancaster 8ThomasLancaster.co.ukModule ContentTwo sections:Employability and placement skillsResearch methodsTeaching designed to support success in finalyear and introduce the idea of academicresearchLittle attention paid to theoryFocus on practical application of research methods
  9. 9. @DrLancaster slideshare.net/ThomasLancaster 9ThomasLancaster.co.ukResearch Methods ContentActive understanding ofacademic literatureAcademic writing andreferencingInformation searching andinformation validityComparative researchtechniquesQuestionnaire designEthics in projects and researchUser testingData presentation andinvestigationPoster designPoster fairPlanning of the Final YearProject
  10. 10. @DrLancaster slideshare.net/ThomasLancaster 10ThomasLancaster.co.ukAssessment
  11. 11. @DrLancaster slideshare.net/ThomasLancaster 11ThomasLancaster.co.ukResearch MethodsAssessmentCritical Literature ReviewIndividual workWorth 30%Traditional introduction toacademic literature, butfocused around topicsinteresting studentsResearch InvestigationAction Learning SetWorth 30%Alternative take on researchmethods, looking at choosingappropriatemethods, collectingdata, analysing data andpresenting and communicatingthis
  12. 12. @DrLancaster slideshare.net/ThomasLancaster 12ThomasLancaster.co.ukAction Learning SetsStudents randomly drawn into Action LearningSets of 3 to 5 membersStudents work together in labs and seminars onpractice tasks and assessed tasks
  13. 13. @DrLancaster slideshare.net/ThomasLancaster 13ThomasLancaster.co.ukResearch InvestigationFour partsIdentify Research Question (0%)Show Research Design (10%)Show Research Evidence (10%)Poster Fair (80%)
  14. 14. @DrLancaster slideshare.net/ThomasLancaster 14ThomasLancaster.co.ukResearch QuestionsMust focus on areas appropriate to the courses:Computing/Technology/Business/EducationMust provide scope for all members of the ALSto be involvedOne research task per active member of the ActionLearning SetChoice of research tasks should be sensible
  15. 15. @DrLancaster slideshare.net/ThomasLancaster 15ThomasLancaster.co.ukResearch QuestionExamplesHow do the usage patterns of LinkedIn by UKstudents differ from the rest of society?What economic effect has music downloads hadon modern day music stores such as HMV?To what extent has the popularity ofprogramming languages changed since 2005?How damaging to international society is theviolence in modern video games?
  16. 16. @DrLancaster slideshare.net/ThomasLancaster 16ThomasLancaster.co.ukPoster Fair“Highlight of the module…”A1 sized poster5 minute presentation, plus questionsReviewed by tutorsReviewed by other Action Learning SetsTo standard set of criteria, equally weighted
  17. 17. @DrLancaster slideshare.net/ThomasLancaster 17ThomasLancaster.co.ukResearch Posters
  18. 18. @DrLancaster slideshare.net/ThomasLancaster 18ThomasLancaster.co.ukEvaluation
  19. 19. @DrLancaster slideshare.net/ThomasLancaster 19ThomasLancaster.co.ukTutor ExperienceHave been using a variety of this assignment acrossmany modules of this typeMany students produce excellent work(publishable)Posters used for displays and universitypromotion, and for teaching in subsequent yearsOccasional “groupwork” issues, but catered forwithin marking schemeExperience useful for CV and future employability
  20. 20. @DrLancaster slideshare.net/ThomasLancaster 20ThomasLancaster.co.ukApplicationFeel that a version of this assignment could workwell within the social sciencesPerhaps within the first year?Happy to provide support, guidance and moredetailed presentationsKeen to hear other findings and results andcontinue to improve best practiceAlways interested in experiences working with ActionLearning Sets in other academic disciplines
  21. 21. @DrLancaster slideshare.net/ThomasLancaster 21ThomasLancaster.co.ukFor More InformationThomas Lancaster:http://thomaslancaster.co.ukthomas.lancaster@bcu.ac.ukSlides Available At:http://slideshare.net/ThomasLancasterVideo Discussion Available At:http://youtube.com/DrThomasLancaster