Engaging the World: Examining Primary Sources Through Dialogue or Text

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Tanya Broesch, Department of Psychology

Project team: Senay Cebioglu and Puneet Sekon, research assistants

Timeframe: April 2016 to December 2017

Funding: $5,000  

Description: Students struggle with primary source material in psychology undergraduate courses. Yet, discerning and understanding this material is critical to success in the field (honours, research assistants and graduate school). Furthermore, understanding how to read and make sense of primary source material can also make students better citizens as they can evaluate evidence outside of the classroom.

My goal for this project is to facilitate deeper understanding and critical engagement with primary source research material by allowing students a chance to ‘interview’ the authors of this material. I will determine whether ‘grounding’ the research in this way is an effective method for enhancing critical engagement with research material in the classroom.

Questions addressed:

  • Are students better able to understand and discern information from primary sources with direct exposure to a primary author?
  • Throughout the course, are students learning how to extract and understand critical information from primary source material? And, are they aware of this new knowledge/ability?
  • Does student perception of primary source material and their confidence engaging with primary source material change throughout the course?
  • Is an increase in student confidence linked to an increase in performance?

Knowledge sharing: I will present the method at department or area meeting and submit the manuscript for journal (or conference) publication.

Keywords: primary source research materials; critical thinking; engaging young scholars