The Use of a Scoring Rubric in an Online Research Methodology Course

By Bartlett, Kayla; Floyd, Jacqui et al. | International Journal of Education, April 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

The Use of a Scoring Rubric in an Online Research Methodology Course


Bartlett, Kayla, Floyd, Jacqui, Davis, Shanda, Haas, Greg, Cox, Kathy, Onwuegbuzie, Anthony J., Frels, Rebecca K., International Journal of Education


Abstract

Research methodology courses can be the most difficult courses in master's-level programs representing the social, behavioral, and health sciences because, in these courses, students typically are expected to learn to think critically and contextually about social and/or academic problems in addition to learning new terminology and methodological concepts not previously part of each specific discipline. Further, the challenges of online learning might increase due to the nature of research methodology courses and the new concepts taught. Thus, as students and instructors of an online research methodology course, we describe the use of a scoring rubric as a performance assessment and provide our student research proposal project as an exemplar of effectively developing research knowledge, skills, and dispositions for use in future online learning of research methodologies.

Keywords: research course, performance assessment, online, research methods, rubric

Research methodology courses often represent required courses in graduate-level programs-particularly, master's-level programs-among virtually all disciplines in the social, behavioral, and health science fields and beyond. In these courses, graduate students typically are expected to learn to think critically and contextually about ways that research impacts social problems (Vandiver & Walsh, 2010). As noted by Onwuegbuzie, Slate, Paterson, Watson, and Schwartz (2000):

Their experiences in these courses might -cement their attitudes towards the field of research, and thus determine whether they become consumers of research in the future (Onwuegbuzie, DaRos, & Ryan, 1997; Ravid & Leon, 1995). However, although the goal of many educational research instructors is to produce students with research consumer skills (i.e., the ability to read, to interpret, to synthesize, and to utilize research) and research production skills (i.e., the ability to design and to implement original research studies) (Ravid & Leon, 1995), many students who have completed research methodology courses report being inadequately prepared either to understand or to conduct research (Fleming, 1988; Green & Kvidahl, 1990; Rackliffe, 1988). Moreover, many students typically experience lower levels of performance in these courses than in their other graduate-level classes. These students often view educational research courses as merely a hurdle, which they must overcome in order to obtain their degrees... (p. 53)

Further, many students experience a unique anxiety in such courses (Kracker, 2002; Murtonen, 2005; Onwuegbuzie, 1997a, 1997b; Papanastasiou & Zembylas, 2008).

According to the Sloan-C (2009) national survey of online learning, the number of students taking online courses in higher education has grown at a higher rate than has the number receiving face-to-face instruction, with approximately 30% of the total higher education student population enrolled in at least one online course. The combination of teaching a research methodology course and teaching online, thus, can be problematic. In fact, pedagogical strategies differ tremendously between research methodology courses taught online and research methodology courses taught face-to-face. Indeed, as surmised by Ivankova and Stick (2007), online courses create the need for instructors of research methodology courses to change their pedagogical roles from being teachers to serving as facilitators of cognitive development, learning, educational growth, and achievement. Yet, regardless of the instructional format, two components are critical in order for students to be successful in research methodology courses: autonomy and self-directed learning (Girod & Wofcikiewicz, 2009; Onwuegbuzie, Frels, Leech, & Collins, 2011). As such, the purpose of this article is to provide support for instructors of online research courses through the use of a scoring rubric both to guide and to assess the comprehensive project that is assigned in many research methodology courses-the research proposal. …

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