California Council on Teacher Education
San Jose, CA
In any academic context, when one mentions the term research, students immediately panic and assume this research is something they cannot do under any circumstances. This response seems fairly common among students new to undergraduate and graduate level research. The tendency on the part of the students is to make this a daunting project, impossible to complete. The faculty leaders know how to conduct research. The goal is to describe the research steps, have students practice each step, and then have them build their research work in stages. Collaboration between and among faculty in exploring and teaching research tools helped us develop a road map for students.
To implement this approach to teaching research, we developed a collaborative partnership, exploring research skills that worked, refining our teaching approaches, and establishing a guided student practice component. After several years of an informal relationship, linking academic librarianship to education programs, our collaboration moved to a more formalized relationship with the permanent assignment of faculty librarian, as liaison to the School of Education graduate students. Community interest in having university students research locally based projects helped strengthen this connection.
Now in our sixth year, the collaborative relationship has produced a level of improved scholarship in student research, with increased student understanding of academic research explorations linked to their own research focus. Additionally, students have improved in scholarly writing and citation skills application in their written work.
Student improvement in research and writing skills is reflected in the increased number of students whose work is accepted by Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) and by professional conferences for inclusion in presentations. Systematic data collection on the effect of this collaboration needs further documentation.
Persuading students of the importance of producing scholarly work has not been easily achieved. Yet, in a time where documentation is essential, we had to move students in this direction to increase their understanding and appreciation of professional research and writing. The effort continues each semester.
The purpose of this article is to describe in brief the steps taken over the last six years while moving toward developing student understanding and application of the research process on their individual master’s theses. The particular focus is on assisting students in locating scholarly material in building their review of the literature as part of the graduate thesis.