Thursday, May 30, 2013

Role for Teaching Resarch Skills to University Students

Greetings from the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, where Dr John Willison, University of Adelaide, is conducting a workshop on "Using the Research Skill Development Framework to drive initiatives in research-led education". He is discussing his Research Skill Development (RSD) Framework. This is a topic of particular interest to ANU, given it emphasis on international standard research. John argues that we can teach research skills, even to undergraduate students. While I agree this could be a useful technique (I have been studying research lead education for the last year), it may need different terminology for different disciplines. Most students who are studying at university will not go on to be academics, but instead be employed in industry and government. While they will use research and may undertake some as part of their day job, this will not be their focus. I teach computer science students, a small number of whom will  go into research, but most will be employed building computer systems. Telling these students they will be learning to do "research" will be a negative for them. However, if we teach students "professional skills" in how to conduct analysis of a problem and structure a task, that will seem relevant, just don't call it "research".

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