Monday, July 15, 2019

A large scale capstone research course connecting students to researchers and careers #RBE2019

I'm going to do a bit of liveblogging from the Research-Based Education conference I'm attending at the University of Adelaide, Australia. As usual, these are my instant impressions of what was said. Nichola Thompson talked about development of a capstone research placement course in the final year of an undergraduate Health and Medical Sciences degree. The course has about I think) 300 students per year. The capstone course involves joining a research group in a research topic relevant to their major interest. They had 55 projects in the last year. The projects vary e.g. they may be lab based, systematic reviews, using existing data sets. The research is supported by core modules (online) concerning research methods, ethics etc., and support in areas such as using the research literature. In semester 2, activities include a journal club. There are multiple modes of assessment e.g. recording a presentation about the research, and presenting a final poster on the research, as well as reports and marks associated with the core modules. The students have been very positive about this initiative, but there are challenges. These include finding enough projects and willing researchers to lead them, costs of the lab projects, perception that some of the projects are more challenging/interesting than others, the marking load (and quality assurance of marking). Some students are uncomfortable with projects with no "right" answer, or don't want to commit enough time, or don't see the relevance of research to their future careers. The researchers may not be used to engaging with undergrad students, so expect a higher a level of skills and may not be used to engaging with unmotivated students, and might also expect that they only get the "top" students, and workload. I asked, and they did involve the librarians!

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