Focus on better teaching of research skills

Focus on better teaching of research skills

Academics from across the world have gathered in Aberdeen today (Friday, April 17) to discuss ways to improve how research skills are taught to students.

The three keynote presenters in the seminar – the first of its kind in the UK – are Dr Mark Garner, of the University of Aberdeen; Dr Claire Wagner, of the Universiy of Pretoria in South Africa; and Dr Barbara Kawulic, of the University of Western Georgia in the United States.

They are the co-editors of a forthcoming volume, Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences (Ashgate).

"Providing sound training has become increasingly important for universities, who all need to increase the number of students they take on and make sure more complete their programme of study," said Dr Garner, who organised the event through the University's Centre for Teaching and Learning.

The aim of the seminar is to encourage the development of a network – formal or informal – of research methods teachers in Scottish universities, and eventually beyond.

Dr Garner explained: "As research methods come to occupy a more central place within academic programmes, the earlier piecemeal, trial-and-error, acquisition of research skills by a small handful of research students is being superseded by structured coursework.

"This seminar arises from a conviction that it is time to develop what might be termed a 'pedagogical culture' relating to research methods. Until research methods are accepted as central to students' education in a discipline, and a passion for research and ability in teaching it is seen as an essential ingredient for research methods tutors, students are unlikely to learn how to do research well."