Being Creative in Research Methods Workshops
Peter Reilly, Business Librarian, University of Limerick
Several innovative teaching strategies were developed during the course of delivering Research Methods workshops to Graduate Business Students in UL, ensuring engagement and deeper learning occurs. These focus primarily on students adopting a creative approach to formulating a valid research question for undertaking a dissertation successfully. These techniques are applicable to most subject domains to ensure student engagement.
They also address the various multiple intelligences and learning styles existing within groups. While ensuring the sessions are student centred and conducive to a collaborative learning environment.
A suite of multi disciplinary resources are drawn upon which includes, blogs, interactive tutorials, online videos, and posters, to develop both their cognitive and metacognitive abilities. Emphasising to students the skills being taught are life long learning and applicable to both an academic and work place environment. Novelty images are used to appeal to a groups’ curiosity and as an interpretive device to explain the value of approaching a topic holistically rather than analytically.
Main strategies used to engage students:
- Harold Jarche’s “Seek Sense Share” framework from Knowledge Management
- Six Ds of Solution Fluency
- Dave Gray’s Visual Thinking
Introducing Harold Jarche’s Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) framework of ”Seek ,Sense, Share” from the Knowledge Management (KM) domain provides a different reflective lens from which to view their research journey . Contrasting this strategy are the six Ds of “Solution Fluency “ a universal creative problem solving approach providing greater clarity to the process.
Applying Dave Gray’s visual thinking techniques cultivates a habit of drawing and doodling which aids defining and communicating complex ideas easier. Producing instructional videos using Powtoon an online animation tool simultaneously engages and informs.Developing LibGuides serves both as a platform for sharing this knowledge and as a teaching resource.
The real lesson learned from applying these strategies is encouraging students to experiment and make mistakes which are all part of the learning experience. Providing both an opportunity for reflection and exploring a concept further.
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Feedback from our Judge: Claire McGuinness, Lecturer School of Information and Communication Studies, University College Dublin
The winning submission was the one that really gripped me, and made me stop and think about how IL instruction could and should be delivered. I found this to be a deeply impressive programme, especially insofar that it is fully grounded in the theoretical basis of learning, collaboration and engagement, in addition to constructs drawn from the area of Knowledge Management. There is a focus on creativity and problem-solving, as well as a concern for the specific needs of this student group, who, as high achievers, bring extensive prior knowledge, skills and experience to the table. The learning methods used represent an unusual and innovative approach and it clear that they were effective in the classroom, and engaged the students.
In IL instruction in recent years, there has been a demonstrable shift away from the direct teaching of resources and processes to the teaching of concepts, and the inculcation of a critical mind-set. The use of ambiguous visual images to promote a holistic way of thinking about research and problem-solving is a fascinating approach in this submission.
I found the learning approaches described in the programme to be novel and creative, and represent an interesting blend of low- and hi-tech approaches. Of particular interest is the repurposing of children’s games to support reflection, as well as the use of the Powtoon software to create animations. The clear link between theory and practice that is evident in this programme is also comparatively unusual, and very instructive. These are simple and effective methods that could easily be used in different contexts.