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The Importance of Teaching Research Methods to Undergrads
Unformatted Document Text:  The best way to engage the students is to play to the course’s strengths, because learning critical thinking skills is a natural draw for the students. I’m not advocating “dumbing down” the course, but rather giving the students the opportunity to develop these important skills more thoroughly. Recommendations: 1. Make Research Methods a lower division course or pre-requisite for upper-division courses. Although no significant effect was seen in this study, if the goal is to encourage an effect on student performance in later political science courses, then it becomes important to ensure the students take the Methods course first. This might also encourage the students to view the course as necessary. If they’ve already gotten through a lot of political science courses before taking Methods, and have done fairly well, they are less likely to see why they need it. 2. Split Research Methods into two courses: one for Research Methods and one for statistics and/or conducting research. This can be done by either requiring a pre-Statistics course or have another Research Methods course geared towards students conducting their own research, data collection and analysis. The statistics version, if not required, should at least come highly recommended for the students who do want to go to graduate school. This recommendation has the benefit of giving students more time to engage with both the qualitative and quantitative material, without cramming it all in together and overwhelming the students. This may be especially crucial for schools operating on the quarter system. Moreover, requiring an extra statistics course shouldn’t be too much of a burden considering how many come in having already taken a statistics course. According to the surveys, 64% of students had already taken a course in statistics, either in high school, college, or both, prior to taking the Research Methods course. Thus 13

Authors: Gjestland, Jade-Celene.
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The best way to engage the students is to play to the course’s strengths, because learning critical
thinking skills is a natural draw for the students. I’m not advocating “dumbing down” the course,
but rather giving the students the opportunity to develop these important skills more thoroughly.
Recommendations:
1. Make Research Methods a lower division course or pre-requisite for upper-division
courses. Although no significant effect was seen in this study, if the goal is to encourage
an effect on student performance in later political science courses, then it becomes
important to ensure the students take the Methods course first. This might also encourage
the students to view the course as necessary. If they’ve already gotten through a lot of
political science courses before taking Methods, and have done fairly well, they are less
likely to see why they need it.
2. Split Research Methods into two courses: one for Research Methods and one for statistics
and/or conducting research. This can be done by either requiring a pre-Statistics course or
have another Research Methods course geared towards students conducting their own
research, data collection and analysis. The statistics version, if not required, should at
least come highly recommended for the students who do want to go to graduate school.
This recommendation has the benefit of giving students more time to engage with both
the qualitative and quantitative material, without cramming it all in together and
overwhelming the students. This may be especially crucial for schools operating on the
quarter system. Moreover, requiring an extra statistics course shouldn’t be too much of a
burden considering how many come in having already taken a statistics course.
According to the surveys, 64% of students had already taken a course in statistics, either
in high school, college, or both, prior to taking the Research Methods course. Thus
13


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