Chance favours the prepared mind: strategies to enhance educational research experiences

Kiely, Etain, Cummins, Gail, Watson, Rowan, Savage, Margaret and Walsh, Orla (2011) Chance favours the prepared mind: strategies to enhance educational research experiences. [Conference Proceedings]


Educational research for many academic staff may be regarded as an additional layer on top of a very intense work schedule. The chances of integrating authentic enquiry into education practice in a collaborative and supportive environment can depend on many variables including time and resources. This case study paper demonstrates how a small group of researchers are maximising emerging technologies to enhance educational research experiences in a flexible yet systematic way.Experiences are presented through the lens of a supervisor and four research students undertaking level 9 and 10 educational research. The case study explores three key sub themes including collaboration, collecting and analysing data and research management.A collaborative web-based workspace was established for each of the four research projects using a free cross-platform compatible system called Dropbox. This allows the research teams to share, synchronise, and edit the most up to date version of files. Project proposals, timelines, papers and chapters are stored and shared online using this system. Research meetings have been facilitated online using web conferencing systems. Scribe liven pens are used as a primary tools to collect rich qualitative data for interviews and focus groups. This allows the researchers to simultaneously record audio with handwriting, which can then be uploaded to a computer for analysis and coding. The use of Survey Monkey and interactive clickers has resulted in increased response rate for quantitative studies inside and outside the class environment. Free research management tools such as 2collab and Mendeley are enabling the team to share, bookmark and generate bibliographies that can be exported directly to word.The experiences of a supervisor and research students in using these innovative tools and strategies is presented within the paper in terms of advantages and pitfalls. The paper concludes with recommendations for educators on how to integrate educational research into their practice.

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