Helping Students Learn to Research Edit

-      As one of the main projects that students are responsible for in EN 2135 is a research project, you can expect to have some students who are unsure about how to go about research or haven never done research before.

  • Challenges you may face with student researchers:
    • Lack of knowledge about available resources
    • Unsure of how research works or functions
    • Students may have never seen examples of what is expected of them before
    • Students may be too focused on the content of their research to understand the process they

need to work through (or vice versa)

  • Some ways that you, as a tutor or instructor, can help better educate students as to how to go about research and why research functions the way it does are:
    • Educate students about not just the library’s existence but how to use it and the different sources of information accessible there
      • ·       You could do this in your own classes via examples or by scheduling writing days
  • Help students to understand how Librarians are a resource available to them. They are experts on

research and will usually have a good idea of where to start looking for information on your topic.

  • Show student’s examples of your own researching (such as personal annotations, or bibliographies). Explain to them what purpose each of your steps serve.
  • Demonstrate the way that a source’s citation can lead to other sources that are central to the topic they are researching. Connect the dots
  • Put them in touch with faculty who are experts on their chosen topics who can serve sources of highly specialized knowledge. Consider seeing if faculty would be willing to work on more long-term research projects with students.
  • Be clear about the goals that your research assignments want students to achieve.
  • Help students to understand research as a process instead of research as a content dump.

Further Reading Edit

Brew, Angela.“Understanding the Scope of Undergraduate Research: a Framework for Curricular and Pedagogical Decision-Making.” Higher Education, vol. 66, no. 5, 2013, pp. 603–618., doi:10.1007/s10734-013-9624-x.

Brew’s article examines existing student research modes and concludes that a move towards a circular, student oriented, model will help student be more engaged with their assignments. For teachers, it helps us understand why it is important to have students interests at the center of their research projects.

Fung, Dilly, “Enabling Students to Connect with Researchers and Research.” A Connected Curriculum for Higher Education, UCL Press, 2017, pp. 39–54.

In their article, Dilly Fung argues that we need to reevaluate the way that we teach research to students. The current model disassociates the students from researchers – asking that they learn to conduct research before being given access to research experts. Fung argues that we can help students to learn to do better research by integrating the researchers themselves into students learning experiences. This squarely sets up teachers to consider integrating faculty much more directly in the lives of their students than we have in the past.

Isbell, Dennis. “What Happens to Your Research Assignment at the Library?” College Teaching, vol. 56, no. 1, 2008, pp. 3–6., doi:10.3200/ctch.56.1.3-6.

Dennis Isbell outlines what happens when a student approaches the library, and its librarians, as sources of research. He is particularly interested in what these meetings look like and how students are interacting with the resources available to them. Instructors can use the article to learn exactly how students can use the libraries and the forms that those interactions commonly take.

Tong, Vincent C. H. “Interdisciplinary Research-Based Teaching: Advocacy for a Change in the Higher Education Paradigm.” Shaping Higher Education with Students: Ways to Connect Research and Teaching, by Agathe Riberau-Gayon and David D'Avray, UCL Press, 2018, pp. 139–149.

Vincent Tong argues for a blurring of teaching and research in his article. He suggests that by embracing the ways that our positions as teachers naturally places us between the researcher and the student. We are more likely to be able to present nuanced information to our students if we are actively engaged in research on that subject. Tong suggest that the best way to help students understand this specialization of understanding is to have them engaged in the research process themselves as soon as possible.

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