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The Importance of Teaching Research Methods to Undergrads
Unformatted Document Text:  making it a requirement just formalizes what many of them are already doing and allows them to get credit for it. 3. Make more explicit efforts to tie Research Methods into what they encounter in other courses. For example, include: lessons on how to read an article; how to critique other studies’ methods, measures, and analysis; learn the different types of research methods (both qualitative and quantitative); and the inherent strengths and weaknesses of different approaches. They should be introduced to the different perspectives offered by a variety of approaches, such as: case studies, longitudinal or panel data, content analysis, etc., and not just large-N analysis of surveys. The idea is to learn how to select the best research design for the question at hand. “I have found that when students have to articulate what makes a question interesting, or what they might or might not learn from a given question, they are more likely to internalize the criteria for strong question and hypothesis generation.” (Hojnacki, 2001:5) Research Methods should reflect the field, which should also help coincide with the variety of research the students come across in their classes. Instead of focusing on one particular approach, disputes and controversies about methodology should be encouraged. Especially as we can’t expect buy-in from other faculty or expect others to make overt efforts to draw attention to methodology in other courses, we need to make Research Methods more practical to what students encounter everyday to help encourage the transfer of their newfound skills. 4. Make very explicit and continual moves to impress upon the students the need to be critical. This reminds them of how the course is more about logic than math and encourages them to turn critical thinking into a habit, not just an exercise. There are some 14

Authors: Gjestland, Jade-Celene.
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making it a requirement just formalizes what many of them are already doing and allows
them to get credit for it.
3. Make more explicit efforts to tie Research Methods into what they encounter in other
courses. For example, include: lessons on how to read an article; how to critique other
studies’ methods, measures, and analysis; learn the different types of research methods
(both qualitative and quantitative); and the inherent strengths and weaknesses of different
approaches. They should be introduced to the different perspectives offered by a variety
of approaches, such as: case studies, longitudinal or panel data, content analysis, etc., and
not just large-N analysis of surveys.
The idea is to learn how to select the best research design for the question at hand. “I
have found that when students have to articulate what makes a question interesting, or
what they might or might not learn from a given question, they are more likely to
internalize the criteria for strong question and hypothesis generation.” (Hojnacki, 2001:5)
Research Methods should reflect the field, which should also help coincide with the
variety of research the students come across in their classes. Instead of focusing on one
particular approach, disputes and controversies about methodology should be
encouraged. Especially as we can’t expect buy-in from other faculty or expect others to
make overt efforts to draw attention to methodology in other courses, we need to make
Research Methods more practical to what students encounter everyday to help encourage
the transfer of their newfound skills.
4. Make very explicit and continual moves to impress upon the students the need to be
critical. This reminds them of how the course is more about logic than math and
encourages them to turn critical thinking into a habit, not just an exercise. There are some
14


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