2015 Winning Proposal

Being Creative in Research Methods Workshops

Peter Reilly, Business Librarian, University of Limerick

PR-e1456248052748-223x300Several 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
  • Powtoon
  • LibGuides

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.

Click here to find out more about this project.

Feedback from our Judge: Claire McGuinness, Lecturer School of Information and Communication Studies, University College Dublin

CMThe 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.