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An activity-based approach to the learning and teaching of research methods - measuring student engagement and learning


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An activity-based approach to the learning and teaching of research methods - measuring student engagement and learning

  1. 1. An activity-based approach to the Learning andTeaching of Research Methods - Measuring student engagement and learning. Eimear Fallon Terry Prendergast Stephen Walsh School of Real Estate and Construction Economics Dublin Institute of Technology
  2. 2. Impetus for ProjectDissatisfaction with ‘lecturing’Research Methods – very abstract subjectwithout specific applicationGood fit for DIT L&T StrategyDeveloping new approach to learningSkills transferable academic/professional
  3. 3. Research Methods .... for Learners  Boring  Poor attendance  Little engagement  Poorly learned
  4. 4. Research Methods .... for Teachers  Difficult to engage students  Frustration  Difficult to measure output but general view that ...  Achievement of Learning Outcomes is poor
  5. 5. Project Objectives – 3 pronged Activity-based approach Measure student engagement Devise more rigorous and equitable assessment methods
  6. 6. The ActivitiesPart 1Research methodsPart 2Generating thesis ideaPart 3Developing and peer critiquing thesis proposal
  7. 7. Activities – Different ApproachesTailor-made approach for each activityThe learning approaches include:WorkshopsBrainstorming & mind mappingQuizzesPresentationsPeer to peer critiquingMeet the final year students – speed-datingSelf reflection
  8. 8. Part 1 – The Methods Questionnaire Survey Case Study Interview Criteria-based Analysis
  9. 9. The Case Study – 3 Tasks Initial students’ perceptions of case studies Task to ‘fill in the blanks’ using internet or other resources – very challenging Preparation of outline of three possible case studies
  10. 10. The Case Study - 1 Activity 1: What are your pre-conceived notions about what it should contain ? Each Group should write in not more than two sentences what you think a case study is and what it should contain. We will have a general class discussion after Activity 1.
  11. 11. The Case Study - 2 Activity 2: The following sentences discuss case studies. Read them carefully and fill in the blanks. Appropriate answers are given below. (25 minutes) Please email this to us when you are finished. The answers to the above will be discussed after the activity. Case studies aim to illuminate the by looking at the . Case Studies allow you to study things in and helping to unravel the of the issue. The real value of a case study is that it offers the opportunity to certain outcomes might happen- more than just finding out what those outcomes are. Normally a case study is not artificially generated specifically for the purposes of the research, it . While may be a consideration in choosing a case study, it is way down the pecking order in terms of criteria Case studies tend to be rather than deal with isolated factors. Case studies focus on the of a subject rather than the of the subject. Cases should not be selected on a but rather on the basis of . Selection should be established. Cases should not be chosen simply because they are , this is a bonus. In particular, cases should be chosen on the basis of their to the research topic. If the subject of a case study is a group of people and they know that they are being studied, the result may not be reliable. This is known as the . Some critics suggest that a case may not be , that the results may be to that case and that the results should not be . Sometimes a case is chosen if it is a rarely occurring event and it offers a to study the effect, e.g. a strike in the electricity supplier companies. Key Words: unique, complexities, relevance, known attributes, generalised, depth, intrinsically interesting, criteria, explain why, unique opportunity, all-encompassing, particular, already exists, observer effect, representative, convenience, help, detail, general, random basis, breadth,
  12. 12. The Case Study - 3 Activity 3 Think of an appropriate case study as part of a research study Outline in not more than 30 words what the case study would try to illuminate/explain/describe etc. “The psychological impact on contestants of reality TV programmes” “Risk sharing in public-private partnerships” “The ‘winner-takes-all’ focus of professional sport” “Are Academy Awards (Oscars) evidence of artistic quality ?” “The growth of international chains in the Irish retail sector”
  13. 13. Part 2 Generating the thesis ideaUsing mind maps to brainstorm ideasDraw a mind map of ideas/ words/ concepts relevant to one of the topics below.  Taxation and property investment  Urban regeneration  Transparency in property investment  Industrial property  SDZs  The impact of the internet on property investment  Commercial property leases.
  14. 14. Mind-MappingSource:, accessed 26 March 2006
  15. 15. W
  16. 16. Mind Map
  17. 17. Part 3 Peer Critiquing of thesis proposals Each student’s proposal was critiqued by their peers (small groups)  Students were given criteria to assess each other’s proposals.  Written feedback and critique given to each student by group We thought this was a very successful activity but mixed reaction from students
  18. 18. Other activities Meet the Final Years Speed dating format
  19. 19. General student feedback I felt that working in groups really helped me to get different perspectives on all aspects of the thesis. I thought that the group size was perfect and the time allocation with the groups and the class was just right too I enjoyed the group interaction in the classes . They were a welcome change of scene from the usual two hour, sit and listen lectures that the rest of the course consists of. More topics should be learned this way if it is possible. Good fun
  20. 20. …more time with lecturers would have been beneficial….The fact that we were all spread across a huge floorobviously made it difficult for the lecturers to see to theevery group’s needs. I did feel that when this help didarrive, it was great and often resulted in us being toldwhere we were going wrong, rather than where we weregoing right.
  21. 21. I felt this was an excellent task (Designing questionnaires), we discussed how to conduct an interview and how to develop different types of questions. I had planned to undertake interviews as a source information and a very useful website was given and this will help me develop my questions for the interviews
  22. 22. I found the proposal writing and peer critiquing veryuseful. It allowed me to share my thesis ideas andaims which helped me focus more on what I actuallywanted to achieve in my thesis.The constructive criticism enabled me to changeaspects of my thesis idea that were too broad andenabled me to create a more focussed idea with aclear aim.
  23. 23. Measuring student engagement Designed questionnaire. This draws from a number of US-based research projects on student engagement - Kuh, G. D. (2001) National Survey of Student Engagement Results suggest  Meaningful Contribution  Positive Learning Environment  Interesting and Challenging  Fun
  24. 24. Student Engagement Survey 78% of students said that it was very characteristic or characteristic of them to contribute in class discussions 71% of students said that it was very characteristic or characteristic of them to ask a question of lecturers or class mates when they didn’t understand something 63% of students said that it was very characteristic or characteristic of them to have fun during this module
  25. 25. Student Engagement Survey 96% of students said that it was very characteristic or characteristic of them to feel that lecturers created a positive environment for asking questions 70% of students said that it was very characteristic or characteristic of them to feel that they made a meaningful contribution to the tasks 70% of students said that it was very characteristic or characteristic of them to feel that they were challenged by the material and were interested in the material
  26. 26. Have we achieved objectives? Better way to learn Research Methods Improved student engagement Still to devise more rigorous and equitable assessment methods
  27. 27. Progress to date – Assessment Methods Examining potential of self-assessment with ‘penalties’ for over-assessing oneself – challenging Peer assessment will be incorporated but exact format not yet determined Examining how to turn facilitators’ subjective view of individual student’s engagement and contribution into objectively measurable metrics.
  28. 28. What else have we learned ? Team teaching Continual self-reflection Not everything works as we hoped We listen more Assessing individuals in the context of Groupwork remains a significant challenge
  29. 29. Where do we go from here ? Mainstream the approach to the rest of the School Offer the module throughout the Institute Continue to try to crack the ‘Assessment’ conundrum
  30. 30. Contact