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The Importance of Teaching Research Methods to Undergrads
Unformatted Document Text:  books which might help with this. The students responded well to Joel Best’s book Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics. Another good option might be selected chapters from Deborah Stone’s Policy Paradox. Although it is more geared for public policy analysis, I think some of the main ideas are important for both and may even help encourage the students to see how Research Methods is applicable to real-world domains. 5. Include assignments that might help provoke “transfer”. For example, bring in theories from American, Comparative or IR courses and have students brainstorm different ways to operationalize the main concepts and test the theories. How is the problem being framed, and are there any important constraints imposed by the framing? What do we mean by certain variables? What assumptions are being made? How do we know our understanding and measures are both reliable and valid? What kinds of data are necessary to support the theory? What kinds of data might falsify the theory? What is the best way to collect such data? Are there any problems in the feasibility of collecting the data? Or another assignment might be to analyze a particular public policy problem and find logical and scientific ways to propose a solution. This includes analyzing the cause of the problem, coming up with a variety of possible solutions, and then proposing ways to determine whether the solution worked. We all do this to a certain extent in our discussions but the more time and practice we give the students to continually examine the same concepts from other courses from a research standpoint, the more we can encourage a dialogue across the classes. Finally, making projects out of these assignments leaves students with tangible additions to their resume and portfolios to show future potential employers what they can do. 15

Authors: Gjestland, Jade-Celene.
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books which might help with this. The students responded well to Joel Best’s book Lies,
Damned Lies, and Statistics. Another good option might be selected chapters from
Deborah Stone’s Policy Paradox. Although it is more geared for public policy analysis, I
think some of the main ideas are important for both and may even help encourage the
students to see how Research Methods is applicable to real-world domains.
5. Include assignments that might help provoke “transfer”. For example, bring in theories
from American, Comparative or IR courses and have students brainstorm different ways
to operationalize the main concepts and test the theories. How is the problem being
framed, and are there any important constraints imposed by the framing? What do we
mean by certain variables? What assumptions are being made? How do we know our
understanding and measures are both reliable and valid? What kinds of data are necessary
to support the theory? What kinds of data might falsify the theory? What is the best way
to collect such data? Are there any problems in the feasibility of collecting the data?
Or another assignment might be to analyze a particular public policy problem and find
logical and scientific ways to propose a solution. This includes analyzing the cause of the
problem, coming up with a variety of possible solutions, and then proposing ways to
determine whether the solution worked. We all do this to a certain extent in our
discussions but the more time and practice we give the students to continually examine
the same concepts from other courses from a research standpoint, the more we can
encourage a dialogue across the classes. Finally, making projects out of these
assignments leaves students with tangible additions to their resume and portfolios to
show future potential employers what they can do.
15


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