Assessing Autonomous Learning in Research Methods Courses: Implementing the Student-Driven Research Project

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Student Research

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As empirical assessments of teaching strategies increase in many disciplines and across many different courses, a paucity of such assessment seems to exist in courses devoted to social science research methods. This lack of assessment and evaluation impedes progress in developing successful teaching pedagogy. The teaching— learning issue addressed here incorporates active learning teaching strategies with autonomous student learning. The strategy was implemented in research methods courses with inherently complex material not conducive to passive teaching and learning strategies. This work implemented a pre/post-test assessment of undergraduate students in a research methods course who participated in a semester-long tiered-assignment research project. Findings suggest that students’ learning preferences increased over the semester for each type inquired; students felt, upon completion of the semester, that they could conduct a research project if asked to do so; their interest in research methods and appreciation for the subject increased over the semester; and they enjoyed learning about their peers’ behavior.


This article was published in Sage Journals. Vol. 11, Issue 1. (2010). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1469787409355877