Tag Archives: undergraduate research

Ten Easy Ways To Put Research And Inquiry Into Units (9/10)

[Almost there! ] This series of posts presents ten simple suggestions to help you change your units or parts of your units to develop students’ research skills and competencies that you can adapt to suit your particular context.

10 easy ways

  1. Change an assessment to an inquiry
  2. Change a laboratory class to guided discovery
  3. Engage students in gathering or working with data
  4. Turn your unit of study into a conference
  5. Arrange for students to interview researchers
  6. Invite students and staff to research speed-dating
  7. Get students to write an abstract
  8. Change essays into academic articles
  9. Turn the class into a hypothesis-generating forum
  10. Create a competition

9.   Turn the class into a hypothesis-generating forum

The key to good research is having good questions or good hypotheses. In some subjects finding good questions or hypotheses is a huge challenge. It is a also something many students struggle with – particularly when they have to find their own essay title, or when, as a doctoral student they are faced with the challenge of narrowing down their PhD topic. Being able to break a topic down into its component parts requires practice.

In class time it’s a good idea to begin with a discussion about what constitutes a good question. An example of how a question can be broken down into its component parts is very useful in this context because often the questions students ask are much too general. If students have chosen an essay topic, for example, they could be asked to write down, say, five titles for essays they could write on that topic. This serves to show the need for breaking down questions, hypotheses, problems etc. into their component parts.

Example

“In class time, Education students are invited to generate as many questions about how to improve the learning of their students as they can think of. They put each of the questions on a post-it note and put them on the wall. Then when all the questions have been exhausted, the class silently groups the questions according to type. Duplicate questions may be removed at this point. Further questions may be added. Headings may be added then or later depending on the students. This is used as a basis for forming groups of students interested to research similar areas.” (University Sydney)

Ten Easy Ways To Put Research And Inquiry Into Units (8/10)

This series of posts presents ten simple suggestions to help you change your units or parts of your units to develop students’ research skills and competencies that you can adapt to suit your particular context.

10 easy ways

  1. Change an assessment to an inquiry
  2. Change a laboratory class to guided discovery
  3. Engage students in gathering or working with data
  4. Turn your unit of study into a conference
  5. Arrange for students to interview researchers
  6. Invite students and staff to research speed-dating
  7. Get students to write an abstract
  8. Change essays into academic articles
  9. Turn the class into a hypothesis-generating forum
  10. Create a competition

8. Change essays into academic articles

Essays are the very best way to teach students how to write in an academic way. They are excellent training for writing academic articles. But it’s clear from research on students’ awareness of research that they often don’t make the connection between what they are doing in writing an essay and what academics do when they do research.

The simplest way to change students’ views about research is to frame the essay as a research activity. However since students don’t always make the connection, it’s important to explicitly refer to the similarity of essay writing and academic article writing, to talk about issues you have had when your articles have been reviewed, things like, unclear focus, argument not clear etc. You could change the assignments students have to do from “Essay on…” to “Academic research article on….” Or you could break up an essay into component parts for progressive assignments, e.g. write an abstract; write a conclusion to an article. You could give students an article from which the abstract or conclusion has been omitted and ask them to write an abstract (see Number 7). But remember always to make explicit in your instructions and feedback the link with research articles.

Ten Easy Ways To Put Research And Inquiry Into Units (7/10)

This series of posts presents ten simple suggestions to help you change your units or parts of your units to develop students’ research skills and competencies that you can adapt to suit your particular context.

10 easy ways

  1. Change an assessment to an inquiry
  2. Change a laboratory class to guided discovery
  3. Engage students in gathering or working with data
  4. Turn your unit of study into a conference
  5. Arrange for students to interview researchers
  6. Invite students and staff to research speed-dating
  7. Get students to write an abstract
  8. Change essays into academic articles
  9. Turn the class into a hypothesis-generating forum
  10. Create a competition

7.   Get students to write an abstract

Students frequently write essays or reports and they are often involved in reading academic papers. But they often don’t make the connections. To teach students to write coherent, cogent essays and articles, one way to start is to encourage them to write good abstracts. Abstract writing is an important skill for academics to learn but the ability to precis an argument is essential in whatever profession students undertake.

You could preface the activity with a class session where students brainstorm what they think are the qualities of a good abstract.

Examples

“Students are given a paper which the tutor has written, but from which all references to it (journal name, volume, page numbers, author name) have been deleted. The students then write an abstract for the paper. The exercise is used in tutorials to develop the skills of writing, critical analysis, summarising information and research design and planning” (Plymouth University, UK)

“In a development of this approach the teacher collects the abstracts and puts them in a common format and chooses the best four or five which are then put with the original abstract. Students vote for ‘best abstract’. Then the teacher reveals which is the author’s abstract often to the surprise of the students!” (Brigham Young University, USA).

Engaging First-Year Students In Research: An Example From The Netherlands

Ideally speaking university education engages students in a research-rich learning environment, aiming to foster research competencies such as scientific reasoning and critical thinking. However, it may not always be straightforward to explicate research in undergraduate teaching in a way that is visible and approachable for students. Continue reading Engaging First-Year Students In Research: An Example From The Netherlands