Outcomes and uptake of explicit research skill development across degree programs

John Willison, Said Al Sarawi, Cynthia Bottema, Susan Hazel, Ursula Henderson, Sophie Karanicolas, Clinton Kempster, Ursula McGowan, Julia Miller, Kogi Naidoo, Brian Ng, Edward Palmer, Simon Pyke, Catherine Snelling, Richard Warner, Michael Wilmore, Glen Croy, Leanne McCann, Susan Mayson, Lyn TorresSuniti Bandaranaike, Tai Peseta, Rowena Harper

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    Abstract

    ‘It’s got a practical application in my world, in what I do.’

    The title for this project was originally drawn from a quotation made by a student in 2008. The student was commenting about the relevance to his work of the research skills he had developed in one semester-long course that used the Research Skill Development (RSD) framework. Graduates who had completed three or four years of undergraduate degrees that explicitly developed their research skills also agreed with the relevance of the title of this project. The RSD is a conceptual framework used by academics and professional staff to inform curriculum and assessment design so that student research skills are explicitly developed in individual courses in the undergraduate curriculum. By the time this project began in 2011, experienced users of the RSD framework had embedded it into multiple courses in undergraduate degree programs and were broadening its reach and deepening its use. The undergraduate degree programs included Bachelor of Media, Bachelor of Oral Health, Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical and Electronic), Bachelor of Science (Animal Science) and Bachelor of Business (Tourism). The purpose of this project was to determine the effectiveness of the implementation of the RSD by academics across these degree programs. The primary evaluation strategy of the success of these implementations was to interview graduates (27) of these programs or Honours students (23) in these programs. (See Chapter 2 for the results). In one whole-of-School context (Medical Science), in addition to Honours students, academics (9) and PhD students (8) were interviewed to develop a rich case study of the benefits and disadvantages of explicit, extended, research skill development. (See Appendix A.) The majority of comments by graduates and Honours students alike asserted that RSD should be embedded across the degree program from first or second years. There was a powerful sense of usefulness and empowerment provided by the research skills developed across three years of an undergraduate degree, or four years in the case of engineering (page 11). Another striking and common feature was that the skills students nominated as research skills could just as easily have been labelled as graduate attributes. Depending on the disciplinary and employment context, graduates may align the skills associated with research with those associated with problem-solving or critical thinking. From the point of view of academics, use of the RSD framework provided a way to conceptualise curriculum design and to implement and assess graduate attributes across degree programs.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationSydney, NSW
    PublisherAustralian Government Office for Learning and Teaching
    Commissioning bodyAustralian Government Office for Learning and Teaching
    Number of pages48
    ISBN (Electronic) 978-1-74361-417-4
    ISBN (Print)978-1-74361-416-7
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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    Willison, J., Al Sarawi, S., Bottema, C., Hazel, S., Henderson, U., Karanicolas, S., Kempster, C., McGowan, U., Miller, J., Naidoo, K., Ng, B., Palmer, E., Pyke, S., Snelling, C., Warner, R., Wilmore, M., Croy, G., McCann, L., Mayson, S., ... Harper, R. (2014). Outcomes and uptake of explicit research skill development across degree programs. Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching.