PREPARING STUDENTS FOR POSTGRADUATE RESEARCH? TECHNIQUES FOR IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF THE UNDERGRADUATE DISSERTATION

McKeogh, Kay and Breathnach, Prionnsias (2010) PREPARING STUDENTS FOR POSTGRADUATE RESEARCH? TECHNIQUES FOR IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF THE UNDERGRADUATE DISSERTATION. [Conference Proceedings]

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Research Teaching Linkages Practice and Policy Conference Proceedings NAIRTL 3rd Annual Conference.pdf

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Abstract

This poster will focus on the role of the dissertation as an essential element in the preparation of undergraduate students for research at postgraduate level. The Bologna framework emphasises the importance of research skills as an outcome of level eight honours degree programmes. Completion of the dissertation is an invaluable preparation for postgraduate research, and is also an indicator of the students' research capacity, yet increasing enrolments present challenges to effective supervision with obvious consequences for quality, leading some departments to dilute or abandon the traditional individual project. This leads to a situation where students enter postgraduate programmes with few or no research skills or experience of carrying out a substantial independent research project. Institutions are then required to provide what might be considered 'remedial' programmes to assist students in acquiring these skills. However, research skills can be developed at undergraduate level through adoption of innovative pedagogical approaches, within the current context of diminishing resources. This paper presents the outcomes of a pilot project in the geography department, National University of Ireland Maynooth, which used the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Moodle to support a collaborative and group based approach to teaching research skills and to supervising the final year undergraduate dissertation. The approach combined online exercises, discussion forums, peer reviews and group supervision. The project was informed by student views on the experience of carrying out the research project in previous years, which identified a number of issues of concern, including feelings of isolation and lack of support. Evaluation of the approach indicates high levels of student satisfaction and an improvement in quality of research outputs and performance. It is suggested that the techniques developed can be applied to postgraduate research training and that their wider use at undergraduate level would, in the future, facilitate the development of higher level research skills at postgraduate level.

Item Type: Conference Proceedings
Depositing User: National Forum
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2015 21:55
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2015 08:37
URI: http://eprints.teachingandlearning.ie/id/eprint/2987

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