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Fostering Active Learning in Research Methods Courses Through the Use of Survey Research Projects
Unformatted Document Text:  6 require that topics have some demonstrable social-political relevance, will remain “ripe” for the next dozen weeks or so and will maintain the interest of the team and the KSU community they will be surveying. Topics must also be unique to each of the three groups in the class. A sample of research questions from past groups is provided below. • What is the impact of various political and demographic factors on the degree of local, national, and international political knowledge? • What factors influence a person’s party affiliation? • What factors influence the level of support for socialist policies and socialism as an ideology? • What factors impact belief in and concern for global warming? • How do religion and other factors on attitudes regarding euthanasia? • What is the influence of various political and demographic factors on attitudes regarding illegal immigration? • Why don’t young people vote? As an instructor, I find observing this topic selection process to be a fruitful education in the nature of group dynamics – from names and introductions to brainstorming and winnowing out of plausible topics toward the final selection. Ultimate topic selections are often spin-offs from the discussions surrounding one of the group member’s individual research interests, which may signal the types of leadership (or not) roles each group member will assume. Theory, Concepts, and Variables The alignment between textbook material and active learning through survey project tasks is especially clear for this next series of exercises. As we discuss the theoretical importance of concepts and variables using assigned readings and examples, research groups are responsible for effectively putting these themes into action in accordance with their project. First, teams must convert often vague working topics into properly formulated research questions, with concepts and measurable variables.

Authors: DeWitt, Jeff.
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6
require that topics have some demonstrable social-political relevance, will remain “ripe”
for the next dozen weeks or so and will maintain the interest of the team and the KSU
community they will be surveying. Topics must also be unique to each of the three
groups in the class. A sample of research questions from past groups is provided below.
What is the impact of various political and demographic factors on the degree of
local, national, and international political knowledge?
What factors influence a person’s party affiliation?
What factors influence the level of support for socialist policies and socialism as
an ideology?
What factors impact belief in and concern for global warming?
How do religion and other factors on attitudes regarding euthanasia?
What is the influence of various political and demographic factors on attitudes
regarding illegal immigration?
Why don’t young people vote?
As an instructor, I find observing this topic selection process to be a fruitful
education in the nature of group dynamics – from names and introductions to
brainstorming and winnowing out of plausible topics toward the final selection. Ultimate
topic selections are often spin-offs from the discussions surrounding one of the group
member’s individual research interests, which may signal the types of leadership (or not)
roles each group member will assume.
Theory, Concepts, and Variables
The alignment between textbook material and active learning through survey
project tasks is especially clear for this next series of exercises. As we discuss the
theoretical importance of concepts and variables using assigned readings and examples,
research groups are responsible for effectively putting these themes into action in
accordance with their project. First, teams must convert often vague working topics into
properly formulated research questions, with concepts and measurable variables.


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