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Fostering Active Learning in Research Methods Courses Through the Use of Survey Research Projects
Unformatted Document Text:  14 Qualitative comments from the exit surveys were also illustrative and mostly encouraging. Feedback included the following: • “Although our group encountered some rifts between some members, everybody came together in the end, and are proud of our final product.” • “Group had bumps at points but worked out well in the end.” • ”Overall, our group worked very well together. When it came to gathering info and putting it together, everybody was friendly with one another. I enjoyed this experience and I don’t typically enjoy group work.” • “It is difficult to present a group project in which only half of the group is either not present or just completely unproductive.” Conclusion The survey research project outlined here is especially effective in presenting political science as an applied discipline, in that it affords students an opportunity to engage in an original research project from start to finish. It allows students to serve as principle investigators by going beyond theory, and moving toward the independent exploration of original research questions. In that sense, the survey research project proposed here is an encapsulation of Hubbell’s (1994) argument that research methods courses in general should “roughly mirror the research process itself and actively engage the student. It should approximate the research process by providing students with practice in formulating a research question; collecting data and information; and analyzing political phenomena” (Hubbell 1994, 60). In the end, survey research projects, and the various tasks that comprise them may serve as efficient active learning tools, which are highly instructive and also empowering for both students and instructors. I am hopeful that this paper may benefit other instructors as we work toward finding the best pedagogic approaches for courses in research methodology.

Authors: DeWitt, Jeff.
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14
Qualitative comments from the exit surveys were also illustrative and mostly
encouraging. Feedback included the following:
“Although our group encountered some rifts between some members, everybody came
together in the end, and are proud of our final product.”
“Group had bumps at points but worked out well in the end.”
”Overall, our group worked very well together. When it came to gathering info and
putting it together, everybody was friendly with one another. I enjoyed this experience
and I don’t typically enjoy group work.”
“It is difficult to present a group project in which only half of the group is either not
present or just completely unproductive.”

Conclusion
The survey research project outlined here is especially effective in presenting political
science as an applied discipline, in that it affords students an opportunity to engage in an original
research project from start to finish. It allows students to serve as principle investigators by
going beyond theory, and moving toward the independent exploration of original research
questions. In that sense, the survey research project proposed here is an encapsulation of
Hubbell’s (1994) argument that research methods courses in general should “roughly mirror the
research process itself and actively engage the student. It should approximate the research
process by providing students with practice in formulating a research question; collecting data
and information; and analyzing political phenomena” (Hubbell 1994, 60). In the end, survey
research projects, and the various tasks that comprise them may serve as efficient active learning
tools, which are highly instructive and also empowering for both students and instructors. I am
hopeful that this paper may benefit other instructors as we work toward finding the best
pedagogic approaches for courses in research methodology.




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