Methods of Educational Research: Teaching This Course in a Novel Way

Article excerpt

This article is a description of a simple, yet exciting way of capturing student interest while teaching an introductory, graduate course in educational research entitled Methods of Educational Research.

Perhaps some readers of this article have very sophisticated, high tech computer systems to teach a course called Methods of Educational Research. Other readers may use a student-centered, problem-solving approach, while some may use straightforward, teacher-centered lectures.

Those of you who teach this subject or almost any other know that students easily can become disenchanted and "tune themselves out." Methods of Educational Research is particularly prone to this type of student reaction because of the myriad technical details of the course.

Following is a description of a relatively simple, yet exciting way to capture student interest while teaching this required research course. My unique approach came to me after I experienced several marvelous overseas vacation tours.

On day one, the first comment I make to the class, which consists of 20-40 graduate students, is "This is not a course and I am not your professor." This remark gets their attention, even that of those students who, as soon as they enter the room and take their seats, fold their arms across their chests and develop that glazed "I'm in a required course" look.

I continue by explaining that instead, the class will experience a "15-day tour of the wonderful world of educational research." I tell the students they are "tourists" and I am the "tour director." The students may think this is a classroom, but it is not. Instead, it is a tour bus, and this is not a chalkboard; rather, it is the windshield of the bus. I tell my students to make certain they have good seats on the bus so they can see through the windshield. I continue with the metaphor by telling them that the paper I am passing to them is not a syllabus, but an itinerary that indicates all the fascinating research topics we will visit, what activities will be included, and the date when each will occur. Also, I inform them that this item that may appear to be a textbook is really a detailed description of the places we will visit. Further, I explain that there will be no mid-term examination. …