Case Studies of Research Based Curricula in College Based Higher Education (cbhe) Mick Healey

Giving Community College students in US their first experience of research in archaeology, USA

Download 255.99 Kb.
Size255.99 Kb.
1   2   3   4

3.2 Giving Community College students in US their first experience of research in archaeology, USA

At Cuyahoga Community College, in Cleveland, Mark S. Lewine, a professor of anthropology, established a Center for Community Research. The center provided more than 2,000 students with their first experience with primary research in the field or laboratory. He encouraged graduate students and community college students to work together on archaeological digs. In 2006 he was awarded US Professor of the Year in the community-colleges category.

"We're digging on abandoned church property, abandoned hospital property, doing land-use history of the inner city. The 'aha' response is immediate. They say, Oh my god, this land that we're living on actually has a rich history. They get very interested because it connects to them. They enjoy the subject while learning the process. Too many of our students, unfortunately, are working two or three jobs, have family responsibilities, and just don't have the time. Often the participation begins with an hour in the lab or on the site. Then they'll try to find time on a Saturday. What I tell my students is: If you like it, if you're learning with it, if you're reliable and consistent in your work, I will offer you internships. Plus I tell them: When you come from an urban high school that isn't giving you what your potential really needs, and a graduate school looks at your record and sees primary research, that makes your record stand out.”

Sources: Bollag (2006);

3.3 Students undertake a vocational research project in the Foundation Degree Public Services: Policing Studies at Sheffield College, UK

Students are required to complete a research module in year two (level 5). A blended teaching approach is adopted to provide support and opportunities to enable students to become autonomous learners. This is of particular importance to those wishing to progress to level 6 where they will be required to complete a dissertation. Having said that, most careers within the criminal justice system involve a degree of project management, research and report writing, so the module aims to provide key employability skills.

Given that the qualification is of a vocational nature, the topic or issue is ideally drawn from the student’s work based learning placement and should be of specific interest to them. Examples from the current cohort are:

  • A Special constable conducting research into the views of police colleagues towards the quality of personal protection equipment

  • A Special constable conducting research into the attitudes of young people towards the police

  • A student working with the government pilot criminal justice panels, conducting research into the public’s general knowledge and attitudes towards restorative justice.

  • A student working with youths on the edges of criminality conducting research into the attitudes of young people in relation to stop and search.

Learners are expected to formulate specific, measurable aims, carry out a literature review, examine and employ appropriate research methods and collect and analyse findings. Overall it is critical that consideration is given to research in methodological and “real world” crime contexts. Whilst the assessed piece consists of a 4,000 word report, students are encouraged to discuss their findings and recommendations with their WBL employer and future potential employers.

Source: Correspondence with Joan Rudder (
3.4 Integration of years 1 and 2 (levels 4 and 5) undergraduate research experience in HND Applied Psychology at Truro-Penwith College, UK

The 2nd year Group Project module for psychology students has been designed to overlap with the first year course in two ways. Initially the 2nd years design their research in small groups of three to four students and in November they present to the first years their research question and their current design ideas. The 1st years are then encouraged to use what research methodology they have learnt to date to question the presenters, highlight strengths and possible weaknesses as well suggest alternative design ideas. The session is meant to be collaborative and positive and is facilitative by the tutors to ensure that this remains the case. The session is followed up by group tutorials in order to evaluate the contributions made in the presentation. At the end of the year the final projects are presented at a Student Conference where the 1st years see the culmination of the discussions and the final findings. The topics are chosen by the students after looking at British Psychological Society digest which is a collection of current psychological research reduced to an A4 page. These articles are used to generate ideas for workable projects. Although the research is conducted as a group each student may have their own slant on the research through individual research questions therefore each student is assessed on an individual dissertation report. They are also assessed on the Conference presentation as a group.

Sources: Correspondence with Cathy Schofield (;

3.5 Sitting in the ‘hot seat’: Supporting students on foundation degrees to read critically at Sunderland, UK

This initiative began in years one and two (ie Levels 4 and 5) on two Foundation Degrees (Early Years and later Education and Care) at East Durham and Houghall College, a college franchise with the University of Sunderland. We found that students initially find reading for higher level study difficult. Stevenson and O’Keefe (2011) identified such students as ‘searchers’ rather than early ‘researchers’ and proposed the need to develop learner attributes of questioning and inquiry. To help the students make the transition to higher level reading we adapted the approach of Ginnis (2001) where the teacher sits in the ‘Hot’ seat of the classroom and students interrogate the teacher about their reading and understanding of an academic text.
We now model on a single occasion, the original strategy of Ginnis and in subsequent weeks we reverse the strategy by asking students to seek out, and locate literature of their choice, week by week reducing the level of guidance and enabling them to gain increasing independence, and autonomy in learning. When in class, they are asked to take a 2-5 minute slot, actively participating by being on the ‘Hot’ seat. When seated, they begin to share their critique of literature, they isolate key themes and dominant ideas, attempt to make sense of what is written and not written explicitly, this is shared in class with their peers and lecturer. This form of modelling critical thinking skills and practising the sharing of ideas with peers is important to broaden the lens of understanding, and provoke a sense of gaining new-knowledge.
The work of the 'hot seat' is on-going at both Sunderland and Northumbria University. In 2013-14 it will embrace wider academic staff and library facilities and will be evaluated at each year/level of study.

Sources: Correspondence with Jan Grinstead and Joan Goss (; Ginnis (2002); Goss and Grinstead (2013); Stevenson and O’Keefe (2011).
3.6 Building a research identity in the Bachelor of Education (Early Years) at Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE, Australia

The Bachelor of Education (Early Years) is a four-year undergraduate degree that prepares pre-service early years and primary school teachers. The program attracts students from diverse backgrounds; many of whom are not well prepared for tertiary study. The program is committed to developing in students a ‘research identity’ from the outset as we believe that developing scholarship and a scholarly mind-set is crucial for professional teachers in practice. Students are introduced to research skills in Year 1. Subsequently, students are introduced to research-led and research-oriented teaching and learning. In this, students are required to participate in critical reading and discussion of research literature in order to understand research structures broadly and the impact of research on the field of education. Pedagogical approaches replicate the strategies that characterise research methods; students are engaged in learning activities that require them to undertake problem posing, that is, generating a research question, data collection techniques specifically those based on observation, and building their capacity to interpret data from a range of theoretical perspectives.

In the third year of the program, research-based activity is introduced to students as they develop and implement a self-reflective action-oriented research project based on their allocated teaching practice placements. This requires students to identify areas of their practice requiring improvement, to undertake a detailed focused literature review in order to understand the issue at a broader level, plan for observation and intervention in their identified area of practice and reflect on their progress across the project’s lifespan. Students are required to formally present their projects to their peers and academic staff thereby demonstrating engagement in and exposure to peer critique and peer review. Such an approach supports students’ understanding of the research process at a personal level and also creates an understanding of the usefulness of the research process in professional learning and growth. In the fourth year of the program, students then plan and implement a research project in an educational setting. This activity occurs in a subject dedicated to the development of student’s research proposals and related activity. Students are supervised to develop a research question in an area that interests them, they submit an ethics application and design their methodology accordingly. Students conduct this project in an educational setting and prepare a research report discussing the processes used and their findings.

Sources: Correspondence with Karina Davis ( and Christine Spratt (;
3.7 Student research development on a foundation degree in Working with Children and Young People and BA (Hons) Childhood Studies at Stockport College, UK

Student research topics on the foundation degree centre on their practice within varied sectors, specifically Educational, Health and Social Care arenas. The teaching of research aims to acknowledge student practice and encourage them to keep abreast of current research techniques and recent developments within their diverse settings.

In the first year (level 4) research teaching commences by highlighting personal, academic and professional qualities and targets. Students delineate their professional, academic and personal strengths and targets - this is revealed following reflection. The emphasis on reflection is encouraged and assessed via the production of an autobiography (assessment 1) then subsequently by the composition of a personal development competence portfolio (assessment 2). In the next year (level 5), critical reflection is applied and assessed via the submission of a literature review on a chosen topic area. Additionally, students create a written research proposal where their student practice is embedded and connected with suitable research methods. The methodological teaching aims to enable informed research decision-making along with development towards the deeper processing skill of ‘evaluating’ research approaches.
The methodological approaches are outlined with reliability, validity and triangulation concepts being integrated into the proposal. ‘Child Centred’ approaches and student research values and beliefs are explored. The principles and values, methodologies and associated research areas may differ depending on the student subject specialism and sector. Students who go on to Honours (level 6) undertake their proposals.
Ethical issues are critical when researching children and young people. Power issues, data collection tools, child-centred principles and reflexivity arenas are incorporated into the delivery and discussions. The students submit their proposals to an ethics panel prior to conducting fieldwork in level 6. Students are encouraged to produce overviews of their research and these are visually displayed around the University Centre. Also, there is a conference titled ‘Widening Horizons’ and this celebrates student research.

Sources: Correspondence with Zoe Nangah (;;–-he-student-conference.
3.8 Developing contemporary curricula and experiencing practitioner-as-researcher through action research projects in Community Mental Health at Chisholm Institute, Australia

The first project aims to explore students’ perceptions of a newly re-developed subject called Action Research Project A, which forms the final year first semester core module of the Bachelor of Community Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs program. This program aims to cultivate the emotional resilience of students and teachers. The teacher, who is the principal researcher, identifies issues of professional practice suitable for action research and develops a research question which encapsulates the students’ life-study experience and academic-based insights. The teacher discusses factors that initially prompt the question and how answering the question might improve curriculum and professional practice. The students also learn to question the role of the principal researcher and to analyse how such interaction influences the progress of their work. The students conduct a critical 1200 word literature review, which accounts for 20% of their final grade.

Students develop an action research proposal (2000 words, 30% of the final grades) and an ethics application that accounts for 20% of their final grades. This process is followed up by on-line reflective writing tasks, which include individual and group dialogue and inquiry, oriented around weekly readings and the online asignments (10% of the final grade). The teacher also develops a survey that covers: 1) Demographics; 2) Work, life, study balance; 3) Evaluation of teaching and learning questions; 4) Perceived satisfaction with the course and improvements made; and 5) Perceptions of how the course has contributed to student wellbeing.After receiving the Ethics Committee letter of approval students complete a survey, which contains a mix of open-ended and closed items. The teacher then enters and analyses the data and works with the class (20 students) to help them interpret the data and to plan the forthcoming publication. The teacher then divides the class into four groups of five students. Each group then has the opprtunity to present the findings and to provide their own solution or way forward at a reseach mini-conference. This task consists of a powerpoint presentation and highlights the solution for implemention of the findings in practice. Thus each group has their own interpretation of the data which accounts for 20% of the final grade. These participatory, collaborative presentations serve as a road map for the teacher who produces a draft publication at the end of the 12-week course, together with a group of students (6 volunteers) who are enthusiastic about the research and see themselves pursuing further studies defined by research. This process, with accepted changes to the curriculum, becomes an introduction for the second semster research subject.

The third-year second semster subject, Action Reasearch B, entails further implementation of the first semester Action Research Project A module for all students, within the Bachelor of Community Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs program. The aims are to: a) reduce emotional experience destructive to the self and others; b) promote empathy and compassion towards intimates and others; and c) understand relationships between emotions and cognition, and promote psychological health. The graduate students from the Bachelor course participate, together with teachers, in a 42-hr training program (carried out in one-day sessions over six weeks), facilitated by a contemplative meditation expert/psychologist and a senior educator/research psychologist. The sessions include didactic presentations, practice related to meditation and emotional awareness and discussion of home practice. The overall assessment comprises self-reported measuments taken before training, immedietly after training, and six months later. The assessment is undertaken using: Five Factors Mindfulness Questionnaire; Positive and Negative Affect Schedule; and reflective journals, including an emotion and meditation diary. The findings of the qualitative and quanitative data are then dissmeninated in a number presentations and publications.

Sources: Correspondence with Anita Milicevic (;
3.9 Year one students undertaking a Certificate of Higher Education explore the principles of community engagement through a group project at Gloucestershire University, UK

The Certificate of Higher Education (level 4) students on a Community Engagement and Governance course develop qualitative research skills through project work. They are part-time, mature, distance learners scattered across Wales and England. The following assignment task is designed to be completed both online and face to face at a residential school.

The module, Achieving Sustainable Communities, includes a group presentation (of 1,200 words, worth 20% of overall module marks). Students work in a multi-agency team of between 3-4 members to prepare a display demonstrating their understanding of three principles of community development (e.g. engagement, cohesion, ownership, capacity building, enterprise, and empowerment). Group members typically include a police officer, voluntary sector employee and a local authority councillor or staff member.
This display is assembled and marked over an intensive three hour period; with students given the ‘brief’ on the day itself. The assignment is designed to give them a realistic experience of joining a new community group. Members negotiate who will undertake what research tasks e.g. investigating and defining what a ‘principle’ is with reference to appropriate academic and/or practice literature; whilst another student pins down the meaning of community development. The group negotiates, explains and justifies why they selected their three key principles; setting down what each of these community development principles means, with a clear example of its use and value from life/team experience. Each member receives the same mark, unless the team suggests that someone should score higher/lower. The display should be a free-standing item, capable of conveying its message to the reader/viewer – unaided. This means that students do not present the display orally. Presentations range across paper-based posters through to PowerPoint’s.
Within seven days each person writes a brief (200-300 word) individual reflection on how they feel the group developed during the activity, with reference to community development principles: were members included/excluded; did the display integrate all contributions? Did they gain a sense of ownership of the task? Dependent on the quality of reflection an individual student’s overall score may increase by up to 5 marks.

Source: Correspondence with James Derounian (; CEG102 Module descriptor available at:
3.10 Community projects for Foundation Degree in Community Engagement and Governance students at University of Gloucestershire, UK

This case study is research-oriented, based and tutored, enabling Foundation Degree FdA second year (level 5) students studying Community Engagement and Governance to develop their research skills. Students are part-time, mature, distance learners, mainly studying online (by Moodle/VLE) and scattered across Wales and England. Many of them are Parish Council clerks. The module Community Projects helps individuals to plan a project or solutions to community issues. It considers how needs, problems and opportunities in a community can be identified and examines resource planning as part of the project management process. There are linked assessments that encourage students to address a real life issue(s) or opportunity in a local community, whilst at the same time, gaining academic credit.

Assignment 1 is a 2,400 word report (worth 30% of overall module marks) in which they establish how, when and why a project came into being. And then show how the need for the initiative was, or could be, proven. In 2013 projects studied included a skate park; lunch club for frail elderly and an initiative to deal with anti-social behaviour. Most people then carried forward the same topic into assignment 2 – a resource plan (3,200 words, worth 40%). This task requires analysis of existing and additional resources needed to achieve identified actions and objectives; determination of actual and potential providers of assets, and necessary additional resources. The student report presents options and recommendations in a form suitable for a project steering group.
The final, problem-solving assessment (30% of module marks; 2,400 words) is worked on in pairs. Each identifies a live ‘wicked’ problem within a/their local community, for the other to address. Rittel and Webber (1973) define wicked problems as having some or all of 10 characteristic e.g. there is “no definitive formulation of a wicked problem”; solutions to wicked problems “are not true-or-false, but good-or-bad” and that every wicked problem “is essentially unique”. Individuals comment on their partner’s recommendations for the problem they set; present a wicked problem they designed for their partner (and research and justify why they consider it ‘wicked’), make recommendations related to their partner’s issue, and reflect on the assignment and what they learned through the process.

Sources: Correspondence with James Derounian (; CEG204 module descriptor available at:; Rittel and Webber (1973)
3.11 Students in the Bachelor of Nursing Degree undertake a research proposal during their second year at Holmesglen, Melbourne, Australia

The Nursing Degree prepares students for clinical practice as Registered Nurses... In the second year of the degree students undertake a subject focused on developing insight into the research process. The subject also fosters the development of group work skills through students working in small group of four students. Students are provided with a weekly series of lectures and tutorials to inform them of theof the key elements of the research process. During the weekly tutorials students are supported within their group and week by week, they develop a research proposal. This subject, concurrent to the research proposal development, also facilitates critiquing of nursing research articles. This further develops students’ research skills and insight into the unique field of nursing re

In the first week’s tutorial students discuss their understanding of the research process. In the second week they identify an area of interest for their research proposal. Then students workstudents weekly work through the elements of a research proposal including literature review, ethics and methodological issues. Although the students share content and develop elements of the proposal together, they are assessed individually as they provide an individual proposal for assessment. After the proposal has been developed, the groups then present their proposal to the rest of the tutorial group.

Source: Correspondence with Dr Peter McErlain (HtmlResAnchor; Malcolm Elliott (HtmlResAnchor; and Bob Ribbons (HtmlResAnchor

3.12 Research in early years’ education at Kingston College, UK

Kingston College offers three foundation degrees, all Early years based. As a part of a second year (level five) research project, students are supported in the preparation of a research proposal and in carrying out a rudimentary research project that aims to ameliorate the environment for children in their care. Each research project is underpinned by individual interests and the needs of their settings. Topics vary and can cover issues such as transition, visual timetables, dyslexia and sensory diet.

Each student is assigned a research supervisor. They are encouraged to investigate earlier research from theorists in the field. They contact those working at other universities who are currently researching or have produced research in the field. Cambridge University and Roehampton University have been instrumental in supporting requests from students who strive to understand the topic chosen for research. Research pods are developed for the exchange of ideas between those investigating similar areas; this facilitates the exchange of ideas and stimulates best practice that needs to be embedded in the industry. All methods of research are explored and students choose ways and means of gathering information including triangulation and the mosaic approach. Gantt charts are utilised in order to maintain the students’ focus and if questionnaires chosen, Likert style questions may be utilised. Students are encouraged to use online systems and often employ Survey Monkey in order to obtain their data.

Sources: Correspondence with Jo Dallal ( and Deborah James (;
3.13 Students studying Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and Care undertake an action research project at TAFE NSW, Australia

As a compulsory part of a Bachelor in Early Childhood Education and Care, students study research methodology in two twelve week semesters, as part of the second and fourth years of the degree. These research units consist of four hours of face-to-face learning each week to explore the different components of the action research model using inquiry-based learning. As part of learning about and implementing qualitative and quantitative research, students are required to conduct a research project based on an area of change they have identified in consultation with staff at an early childcare service. Working in pairs, students are required to complete a research proposal, implement their research in an authentic work-based context and write up their findings. The student pair up and then make recommendations based on the findings. Ideally these recommendations are taken up by the childcare centres in the future.

An example of research conducted compared two contrasting centre’s school readiness programs which is defined as the transition preparing children for the move from centre based care or the home to school based settings. The student pair initially explored the relevant literature to clarify the best way to prepare children for school. Using qualitative research methods, the student pair conducted surveys of staff and parents asking about their beliefs regarding school readiness. The resulting data led to a finding that parents and staff had various and quite differing ideas on what constitutes a high quality school readiness program. The project recommended that more education for staff and parents about characteristics of school readiness programs which have proven to lead to positive outcomes would be beneficial to a program’s success.

Source: Correspondence with Martin Brown (;;
3.14 Engaging selected first year degree students in a collaborative research project on disability and rurality at Combined Universities Cornwall, Cornwall College, UK

Our research team included four first year students on the BA (Hons) Social Work degree who were integrating this research experience as part of their Community Development Project, four members of the Service User / Carer Panel and two academics. The aim was working as a team to interview local disabled people about their lived experiences. This ‘emancipatory’ or ‘participatory' method incorporates student learning, service user perspectives and academic / theoretical underpinnings. It also provides an opportunity for marginalised people i.e. the research participants, to tell their stories and have a voice.

The students were involved from the beginning. The first task was to rework and update the literature review (from a previous related study), redefine the research questions and identify potential research participants. While waiting for ethical clearance to be confirmed the students and service users attended training sessions on research methods, interviewing skills and later a data analysis workshop. In addition the students received academic input on social theory. Following this grounding students interviewed participants, either individually or in focus group situations; transcribed the data; and then proceeded with the next round of questions/themes (Grounded Theory). We then took a three week break which allowed time to ‘immerse’ ourselves in the data before conducting a two day final analysis excise which produced the key outcomes. The findings were then disseminated by the students to a range of audiences (e.g. local professionals, service users and academics as well as at university conferences in the UK).

Source: Correspondence with Dr Deborah Phillips (;

  1. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

4.1 Biotechnology students work as part of a research team at Massachusetts Bay Community College, USA

Massachusetts Bay Community College (more commonly known as MassBay) is a two-year community college in Middlesex County Massachusetts. Their wide ranges of courses are particularly aimed at widening participation to first generation students. The Biotechnology programme is a very unusual, distinctive programme led by Dr Bruce Jackson. Students work with leading researchers on topics such as prostate and breast cancer, marine biotechnology and forensic DNA science. This research-based and peer mentoring-intensive program was designed specifically for non-traditional students and uses hands-on instruction and unique internship experiences. The pedagogy is that of a research team in a doctoral programme. After the two year programme students enter into internships and transfer to four year colleges. Approximately 50 per cent of Biotech students go on to pursue advanced science degrees through articulated partnerships and bridge programs with institutions worldwide. The programme has won many awards and received grants from the National Science Foundation and other major organisations.

4.2 A collaborative research approach to the honours dissertation in computing and games design at South Essex College of Further and Higher Education, UK

The final year dissertation is a compulsory module (30 credits) on the BSc (Hons) Computing and Games Design. Learning takes place through a range of pedagogical methods according to individual and group’s topic requirements. In each academic year there are on average 10-15 students. Students select research areas on the basis of the market requirements for the industry over the next five years (for example Semantic Web, Cloud Computing, Mobile Technologies, and so on). After initial investigations students select various directions within the main area which further develop their research questions within the main topic. The sub-topics are selected according to the student’s technical development capabilities and research interest. For example, in a group of four students the topic can be further divided into four sub-topics. As the selected topic by each individual is in same area of their fellows, it enhances their motivation and allows sharing of resources and peer discussion. The collaborative discussions help them to work on complex topics, while also giving them experience of working as team members. The project creates a professional working relationship where students help each other in a cooperative setting. This experience helps to enhance their employability. The module is assessed by evaluating the final presentation and a written report.

Sources: Correspondence with Faisal Mustafa;
4.3 Research project and poster presentation in applied plant science and biotechnology at Myerscough College, UK

Undergraduate students experience research during the process of carrying out an experiment and producing a poster as an assignment for a third year (level 6) module. They are given the research background to the control of organogenesis (forming roots and shoots) in plant tissue culture and the accepted model of hormonal regulation. Students are then asked to devise an experiment to test this theory with a given type of plant culture, e.g. shoot tips. As a group, they decide what hypothesis is to be tested, the treatments to be applied to test their hypothesis, and the measurements that need to be taken. They then undertake the experiment, so in the process develop aseptic techniques, consideration of replication and experimental design. They then need to select appropriate statistical analysis and method of presenting the results. Students then report what they think are the major findings as a poster.

Students develop skills in discussing experiments and experimental design. It gives the students an opportunity to consider how the measurements to be taken can be standardised across the group. They need to think of using photographic and pictorial methods to present their findings. They gain skills in communication, particularly scientific communication and in the process of selecting and interpreting key information and presenting facts accurately and concisely. This exercise also provides opportunity to undertake data analysis and presentation, with staff guidance.
This research-oriented, research-based and research-tutored exercise compliments their dissertation modules. The dissertation is 40 credits in length and is compulsory for the honours degree. Although this exercise is delivered alongside the dissertation modules, the assignment is sufficiently early to enable them to apply the skills developed to their own dissertation in terms of establishing existing knowledge, developing hypotheses, designing the experiments, determining measurements, statistical analysis and the presentation and discussion of results. Even something as simple as developing an appropriate title, is discussed during the poster assignment.

Sources: Correspondence with Mick Cottam (, David Elphinstone ( and Irene Weir (;
4.4 Course and program integration of early research experiences at Finger Lakes Community College, Canandaigua, NY, USA

In 2003, faculty at Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC) were invited to participate in a regional study on Eastern Red-tailed hawk populations. The study required both a field and laboratory component. FLCC was an appropriate partner due to its well-known Environmental and Biotechnology programs. Resources in the Environmental program were leveraged to help coordinate the field component while the Biotechnology program coordinated the laboratory portion. Anecdotal reports of positive gains in student learning outcomes led to an effort to increase student exposure to the research experience. At the time, very few models existed with respect to integration of the research experience at a two-year institution. FLCC faculty conducted self-studies using Root Cause Analysis (RCA) tools to identify institution-specific barriers and then developed integrated solutions to those barriers.

In 2005, FLCC began testing a model that involved the development of classroom case studies that would be introduced into first-year introductory science courses. These case studies would be used to teach introductory course concepts within the context of an ongoing research project. The primary objectives were to demonstrate gains in introductory course student learning outcomes and increase the number of students enrolling in second year research-based courses. An evaluation of the pilot demonstrated gains in both outcomes. The results of the pilot were included in a proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF) and eventually led to the establishment of the $3.35M Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative — a National project devoted to promoting the early research experience at community colleges (see Case study 7.1).

4.5 Year 1 poster presentation conference in Engineering at Newcastle College, UK

In May 2013, the School of Engineering & Science organised a first year (Level 4) poster presentation conference, which provided an opportunity for students to disseminate the findings of their work-based learning (WBL) projects. WBL projects require level 4 students to identify and research an issue in the workplace relevant to their engineering discipline. Part of the assessment process includes a verbal presentation on their findings delivered to a general audience. Participating students came from a range of disciplines including electrical, mechanical, renewable and subsea engineering.

The event was hosted by students, with lecturers providing assistance and assessing their work. Posters were displayed on walls around the venue, with students presenting their aims, methodology and findings to visitors. Some of the students also displayed creative products developed in response to their findings. The conference was advertised widely across the institution. The event was aligned with the monthly information, advice and guidance event which attracts prospective FE and HE students, some attending with their parents. In this way, scholarly activity undertaken by students was disseminated to the general public as a positive feature of our HE provision. A local employer also participated in the conference.
Participation in the conference brought numerous benefits to students including developing presentation skills and gaining experience in presenting complex issues to a non-specialist audience. The event also contributed to the developing community of staff and student research within the School and it is hoped that the conference will become an annual feature in the academic calendar, and will be emulated in other areas of our HE provision.

Sources: Jonathan Eaton (;
4.6 Researching public perceptions of squirrels in FdSc Species and Ecosystems course at Otley College, UK

In 2004/5, there was a national call by The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) for a cull on grey squirrels which were seen as impacting negatively on other wildlife. DEFRA were sensitive to public perceptions about this proposal and were waiting for a consultation to report back on this before enacting the proposal. Thus, this presented a perfect scenario for the students to do their own research and report in to public perceptions and how legislation could be impacted by such considerations. The six to seven students had to research the DEFRA proposal, digest its content, and increase their knowledge of grey squirrel impacts from the literature before then designing their own public perception survey (thus engaging with social science research skills). They then went into a park where people came to feed the squirrels to engage the public and collect data (this, was done with staff in the background both for support and to assist students if questions got too difficult). They developed an information sheet to give to the public and, in pairs, collected data on public perceptions to the proposed cull. Having collected the data they shared the data between them and then analysed it in class (this introduced new data types and thus new analysis options) before then writing it up in two styles - a normal report and a summary in a newspaper style. This made a module that could have been dry and boring very much alive. It got them to engage directly with a national legislation making body and understand the decision making process, widen their research skills, understand the requirements needed to engage in public research (risk assessment, survey info sheet, name tags, knowledge on the subject to answer questions, etc). The best newspaper summary was submitted to the local paper and was published - which was celebrated by all the class.

Source: Correspondence with Angus Carpenter (

4.7 Engaging students in group projects lasting several years in Viticulture and Winemaking at Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE, Australia

The Viticulture and Winemaking programs are strongly industry-based courses that attempt to empower students with the skills required to be competent, innovative practitioners in the wine industry. This industry has a long established spirit of workplace research, from both a food-chemistry and engineering perspective, therefore, it is been deemed imperative that students are exposed to applied research throughout their study. Rather than depend on stand-alone final year projects to fulfil this aim alone it was decided to instigate a traditional multi-faceted research project, spanning a number of years and requiring contributions from numerous student researchers working towards a common objective.

To integrate the project into the teaching programs staff teaching on the programme developed a roadmap to commercialisation outlining the key intellectual and technological milestones that needed to be overcome. The milestones were divided into three categories, (1) those that have a known solution and simply require time for analysis, and (2) those that didn't have a currently known solution but experimentation was out of the scope of student activities, and (3) those that didn't have a currently known solution but experimentation was within the scope of student activities. Milestones in categories 1 and 3 were then prioritised and given a rating of 1 to 3 depending on their perceived difficulty, aligning with the year-level that where students would have the knowledge/skills to undertake the task. Then each task was then allocated to a programme /course where it would be embedded into that year's practical activities. Students embraced both the challenge of this as well as the respect that it provided to them, and also gave them a legitimate feeling of contribution. All resulting publications are attributed to all staff and students involved in that particular component, providing an excellent 'CV boost' as new graduates.

Sources: Correspondence with Alastair Reed ( and Christine Spratt (;;
4.8 Engaging students in applied research through industry sponsored collaborative capstone projects at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) Edmonton, Canada

NAIT’s applied research program gives students the opportunity to put their learning to work in an applied, real-world project. They work with faculty, industry, and community partners to investigate problems and opportunities proposed by our partners or sponsors. There follows two examples of capstone projects.

Students in the Bachelor of Technology in Technology Management (BTech) must demonstrate the integration of their learning through a Capstone applied research project before graduating. Partnerships are formed between BTech, industry sponsors, and student groups of three to four students, in order to pursue ‘real world’ applied research projects to solve industry problems. A faculty guidance team works closely with the student groups to generate research questions, develop research plans, gather and analyze data, and propose solutions. Projects in LEAN manufacturing, IT solutions, alternative energy, construction, and government policy are examples of applied research that has been undertaken in the capstone project. Students prepare a research report and present their findings publicly in a capstone symposium that is attended by industry representatives, faculty, and the general public. Curricular themes such as applied research methods, leadership, project management, ethics, and communication are emphasized throughout the capstone project as a way to transfer program knowledge to its many applications in society.

Download 255.99 Kb.

Share with your friends:
1   2   3   4

The database is protected by copyright © 2022
send message

    Main page