Research skills modules for further education college based top-up degrees

Braun, Martin (2023). Research skills modules for further education college based top-up degrees. Research in Education (Early access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/00345237231207715

Abstract

This case study investigated to what degree the research skills needed for college based top-up degrees differ from each other. The four academic areas studied ranged from natural and formal science subjects to social science and visual arts. They were explored by means of a thematic analysis of both their individual module handbooks on research skills and interviews with lecturers on these modules. The results were compared against the relevant subject benchmark statements, Biglan’s framework of classifying academic fields and related research. The interviews suggest that the research skills development needs of students at top up degree level can be met through a dedicated module in an effective way. Both the handbooks and the interviews intimated that there is a certain amount of overlap when it came to secondary research, which may be effectively met by a suitable librarian. Furthermore it was found that only two dimensions of Biglan’s framework are necessary to explain the needs of detailed ethics consideration for student projects and the existence of primary research tools and techniques peculiar to a certain field. Further work could include the definition of more generic primary research tools and techniques for academic fields where a paradigm consensus is relatively weak.

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