Coaching Students to Become Active Researchers

Bernhard Riecke

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipientBernhard E. Riecke, School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT)

Project teamLiaqat Ali, research assistant

Timeframe: July 2013 to April 2014

Funding: $5,000

Course addressed: IAT 802 – Quantitative Research Methods and Design

Course website:  

Final report: View Bernhard Riecke's final project report (PDF)

From the final report: "We used and online questionnaire to gather the Graduate students ideas and thoughts on what should the IAT802 course should focus most on (see Figure 1 for results). While all aspects of the course that we intended to included were rated as important by a large percentage of students, they valued most highly how to analyze data using statistical methods, how to design effective research questions, hypotheses, and and effective experiment, and how effectively present/plot data and write it up and present in scholarly manner (means > 3.5 on a scale from 1=least important; 5=most important)." Read more >>

Description: The overall goal of this proposal is to investigate how best to improve an existing course, IAT 802 Quantitative Research Methods and Design, using novel teaching and learning approaches, which include Just-in-Time-Teaching (JiTT), Team-Based Learning, experiential learning, aligned teaching, and flipping the classroom. The main goal of the course is to best coach students to become active and engaged researchers. In order to reach this goal, several questions are taken into consideration while designing the course:

  • How can we tailor our teaching/learning instruments to effectively teach such a diverse audience without boring the more advanced students and loosing the less advanced students?
  • How can we make the course content engaging, relevant and useful for such a diverse audience?
  • How can we design this research methods course to optimally fit into the specific context and ecosystem of SIAT?
  • How can we best gather the data needed to design and iteratively improve this course?
  • How can we best take advantage of actual face-to-face time and go far beyond what online courses can effectively do?
  • How can we take advantage of web-enabled opportunities (as well as video-tutorials and traditional textbooks) and free up time for interactive and experiential teaching/learning in a physical classroom?
  • How can we create a community of engaged learners that can inspire and support each other?
  • How can we apply team-based learning approaches to support this?
  • How can we judge/investigate which “novel” teaching/learning approaches to use, and how best to integrate them in our specific teaching and learning context?

Questions addressed:

1. Using a structured creativity-fostering process for devising aligned teaching/learning activities:

  • How can we adapt Affinity diagramming (a tool frequently used in design and project management) as a systematic tool for more effectively devising aligned teaching/learning activities, together with students?
  • What are the actual “user” needs and desires, and can we help students become more actively involved in shaping a course to better suit their needs?

2. Using JiTT and online surveys during the course offering to guide it better and evaluate the effectiveness revised flipped classroom material and the associated teaching-learning activities:   

  • How can we use regular student feedback to iteratively refine the course offering during the semester?
  • How do students evaluate the effectiveness and usefulness of the different teaching/learning activities and assignments?

3. Using findings of 1&2 to design multi-dimensional grading rubrics and guidelines/checklists to support students in conducting their own small research projects and disseminating it in scholarly manner:

  • How can we best support students in conducting their own research projects and disseminating it in scholarly manner?
  • Can we use the information gathered in 1 & 2 to guide the design and improvement of multi-dimensional grading rubrics and guidelines/checklists that are effective for both grading and helping/guiding students?

In order to investigate the research questions, the data will be collected by using multiple methods: (1) Surveys, (2) Guidelines/Checklists, and (3) Multidimensional grading rubrics.

Knowledge sharing: A summary of the outcomes will be made available across Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology through the appropriate channels. Final project presentations will be video-recorded and freely available on the web. Findings, conclusions, and further insights might be disseminated through appropriate venues such as online reports/blogs or conference/journal publications.