The Continuing Search to Find A More Effective and Less Intimidating Way to Teach Research Methods in Higher Education

April 2016

Source: Innovations in Education and Teaching International, Vol. 53, No. 3, 285–295, 2016
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The purpose of this study is to integrate the potential advantages of an intensive format with student-centred learning and active engagement in research methods education. Specifically, this study examined the implementation of a new, intensive course format at UK business school. This format aimed to increase student participation, and promote independent learning in a less formal and more collegiate environment.

The new course format included instructors helping students understand why some approaches and methods were more suitable. Students could better able to develop the research methods most suitable for their dissertations.

Forty five students participated in the new course format.
The author compared performance of the students to the performance of 51 students who undertook the same course material presented in a traditional semester-long module.

The results reveal that the new format produced scores that were at least as good as the traditional format and which were more closely aligned with the students’ average overall course scores. Consequently, students had a clearer idea of the research process and were often enthusiastic and more prepared to take ownership of their project. The author argues that the improvements in the students’ performance on their assignments may be attributed to the compressed format and focused learning. This new format helped students to make the perceptual link between the taught content and an applied project.

The author also found that the students were better able to overcome the perceptual link between learning research methods as a subject and then using the knowledge in practice.

In addition, this study only considered the effects of the changes in terms of student achievement and did not account for the students’ experience and satisfaction, which could have highlighted the particular aspects that students found difficult and could have been used to make amendments to the teaching format in the future.

The authors concludes that the redesign of the research methods course appears to have resulted in improved assessment scores and a greater ability of students to apply their learning to research projects. 

Updated: Feb. 11, 2018