Teach Research Methods: Start With a Culture of Inquiry

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Throughout August MethodSpace will focus on teaching and learning about research methods, in and out of the classroom. In September we will explore the next stage: supervising, guiding, or mentoring researchers.

One principle is common across all methodologies and methods: research is about asking questions. We conduct research to find and test solutions to problems. A researcher’s mindset is not set, instead it is open to new insights– or to being proven wrong. How do we teach in ways that help our students learn how to approach problems with open minds, and to craft and conduct research?

Let’s begin by taking another look at previous posts from MethodSpace about creating a culture of inquiry, using inquiry models of instruction, fostering critical and creative thinking, teaching with collaborative methods, or using research cases for active learning. The ideas presented can be put into practice in research courses or in courses in other curricular areas. They are discipline-agnostic, and can be adapted for any academic level, for child through adult students.

Creating a Culture of Inquiry in the Classroom

How can we use build a culture of inquiry in classes we teach? This post contains some suggestions from a learning-to-research, researching-to-learn orientation. Depending on the available time and the nature of the class, you can use these ideas to reframe discussions are written assignments, or as the basis for research projects that involve collecting and analyzing data.

Using Inquiry Models to Learn How to Ask Questions

 If we are not curious, if we don’t know how to ask questions with an open mind, it is hard to be a good researcher. How do you teach someone to be curious? How do you motivate someone to cultivate an inquiring mind? How do you encourage students to develop the creative and critical thinking skills they will need as researchers?

Two Perspectives on Critical Thinking and Research

A conversation with Tom Chatfield about critical and creative thinking and research

Teaching Research Methods using Collaborative Learning

How do future researchers learn the skills they will need to succeed in academic research and related professional work, where collaborative and interdisciplinary teamwork are increasingly expected?  One way is by using collaborative learning methods that allow students to gain the experience of working together to conduct, analyze, and/or write about research while still in the classroom. 

A Case for Teaching Methods

Research cases offer one way to gain a holistic and realistic view of the empirical process and allow us to learn from the trials and errors of successful researchers.

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