How does acting as a research participant impact undergraduate students' experience(s) as researchers?

Rand, Jane (2015) How does acting as a research participant impact undergraduate students' experience(s) as researchers? In: BERA 2015, Belfast. (Unpublished)

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Critical reflection action learning builds on experiential learning theory and draws on Mezirow’s (1981) work of transforming perspectives (McGill and Beaty, 2001). In my doctoral research I used action learning as a data-generation strategy, to support my exploration (and theorisation) of training teachers’ practice (Rand, 2013; 2015 in press). As a researcher, I was both action research participant and also action learning participant. Post-doctorate, critical reflection action learning remains central to my lecturing practice.
Following my ‘experienced problem’ (Coghlan and Pedler, 2006: 129) of undergraduate Education Studies students being disappointed with the outcome(s) of a second-year introduction to qualitative research module, I found myself curious about how I could effectively support these students in their third-year dissertations. In these, students are required to ‘design and pursue a self-selected programme of original research’. As their tutor, my experience was that the students did not readily identify themselves as both students and also researchers (something which had very clearly been a part of my own identity as a doctoral student). I am interested therefore to learn whether the lived experience of participating in a research study can support undergraduate students to develop this more nuanced identity. My intention (during the 2014-15 academic year) is to model the process of undertaking a small-scale research project with students, thereby providing a research-focussed experiential learning opportunity. The outline research question for the study is: How does acting as a research participant impact undergraduate students' experience as researchers?
The data generation methods include participation in short review/evaluation activities at the end of taught sessions, attendance at an undergraduate research conference, and participation in an action learning set to explore students’ own ‘experienced problems’ as novice researchers. Early data from the research indicates that, (crude) feelings of nervousness, anxiety and being overwhelmed are initially dominant over excitement and curiosity. So far, collaborative analysis of our research data indicates that students are better able to articulate their feelings as researchers, and in research terms, following their lived experience(s) as research participants.
This research has the potential to inform the pedagogy of undergraduate social science research; it should be of interest both to qualitative/interpretive researchers and also to those who support them. It is relevant to the BERA community, notably to the domains of Curriculum, Assessment and Pedagogy, and Practitioner Research.

Dr Jane Rand
Faculty of Education & Theology, York St John University, UK.

Coghlan, D., & Pedler, M. (2006). Action learning dissertations: structure, supervision and examination. Action Learning Research and Practice, 3(2), 127-139. DOI: 10.1080/14767330600885797
McGill, I. & Beaty, L. (2001). Action Learning – a guide for professional, management and educational development (Rev. 2nd ed.). Abingdon, England: RoutledgeFalmer.
Mezirow, J. (1981). A critical theory of adult learning and education. Adult Education, 32(1), 3-24.
Rand, J. (in press) Dimensions of knowing: a conceptual alternative to an unhelpful polarity between knowledge and skill. Research in post-compulsory education.
Rand, J. (2013) Action learning and constructivist grounded theory: powerfully overlapping fields of practice. Action Learning: Research and Practice 10(3), 230-243.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Status: Unpublished
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
School/Department: School of Education
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/782

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