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Researching the challenge. Dr Julia Maz Dr Jo Gilmartin Dr Philip Esterhuizen. Presentation Background to Master’s level Research Methods module Action learning approach to module development Results Way forward. Background to Research Methods module 15 credit module, 5 taught days

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Researching the challenge

Researching the challenge

Dr Julia Maz

Dr Jo Gilmartin

Dr Philip Esterhuizen


  • Background to Master’s level Research Methods module

  • Action learning approach to module development

  • Results

  • Way forward

Background to Research Methods module

  • 15 credit module, 5 taught days

  • Offered school-wide

  • Master’s level module has problematic history

    • Weak student evaluations

    • Inconsistent module leadership

    • Student diversity

    • Programme diversity in accessing module

Action learning to develop Research Methods module

Aim to enhance Learning and Teaching activities of Research Methods Module to:

  • Restructure module handbook

  • Restructure 5 taught study days into coherent themes

  • Develop diversity of teaching strategies

  • Improve student understanding of research methodologies and research methods

  • Enhance student engagement and competency regarding appraisal of research literature

New approach to the Research Methods module

  • Preparatory work:

    • Read up on the research process prior to day 1

  • Five teaching days around distinct themes:

    • Philosophy and ethics of research , Qualitative Research, Quantitative Research, Mixed Methods Research and Systematic Reviews

    • Students set learning objectives at start of each study day which are evaluated at the end of the day

  • Teaching team:

    • Lecturer expertise aligned to themes

    • Co-facilitated sessions

    • Selection (by lecturers) and use of contemporary, subject-specific articles for appraisal

    • Meeting the students half way with regard to time investment (e.g. prior release of articles and creating an equal starting point for each study day)


  • A mixture of positive and less positive results

  • Based on 3 groups of results:

    • one set of results from the October and March 2011/2012 cohorts

    • one set of results from the October 2012 cohort

    • one set of results from the March 2013 cohort


  • Teaching

    • Multi-professional student audience (Marlow, Spratt and Reilly, 2008)

    • Prior knowledge of research (Mattila, Koivisto & Haggman-Laitila, 2005)

    • Resistance to research and/or specific methodology (Carty, 2007)

    • Engagement in group discussions (Lindo, Holder-Nevins, Dover Roberts, Dawkins & Bennett (2013)

    • Diverse expectations (Moore, Crozier and Kite, 2012; McAllister and Stockhausen, 2001)


  • Professional socialisation

    • The ‘normality’ of asking ‘why’ questions in clinical practice (Epstein, Siegel & Silberman, 2008)

    • Task focused orientation to practice (Mattila, Koivisto & Haggman-Laitila, 2005)


  • Knowledge and learning

    • Subjective/objective dichotomy of professional practice (Loke, Laurenson & Wai Lee, 2012)

    • Rational/intellectual versus dialogical approach to teaching (Gopee & Deane, 2013)

Dilbert site (

Way forward

  • Challenging assumptions

    • Threatening and anxiety-provoking

    • Academic supervision versus academic support

  • Teaching and Learning

    • Introduce and use a range of instruments throughout the study days to encourage students towards a competent understanding of critical appraisal

    • Create conditions to promote a constructive learning environment

    • Maintain thematic days, but spread the days over five weeks (minimum)

    • Develop blended learning teaching methods

Way forward

  • Evaluation

    • Run Research Methods module for two 2013/14 cohorts and then evaluate three groups

  • Research

    • Application for School of Healthcare funding to undertake a Systematic Review entitled: What is best practice in the teaching of research to (undergraduate) nursing, health and social care students?

    • Student enhancement scheme