Preparing Students for Research: Reflecting Their Needs and Concerns

Preparing Students for Research: Reflecting Their Needs and Concerns

Zineb Djoub (Abdelhamid Ibn Badis University of Mostaganem, Algeria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4836-3.ch002
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Abstract

Conducting academic research is a requirement to obtain a degree at university. But, before judging the research work students come up with at the end, we need to question the quality of the research methodology courses and to what extent these are preparing them for such a decisive task. To this end, this chapter's focal concern is to find out about the challenges Master students face in conducting research at the department of English (Mostaganem University). This is through a case study investigating their needs, concerns, and views regarding their learning of the research methodology course.
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Introduction

Higher education’s role is not only concerned with disseminating knowledge and preparing students for the world of work, but its mission lies as well in developing critical minds who are able to solve problems and cope with the 21st century challenges. To this end, conducting research is a prerequisite process for graduate students’ academic achievement. It involves inquiry, reflection, collaboration and creative productivity; the necessary skills to thrive in today’s world.

In fact, involving in such a process is a great opportunity for students’ personal and career development since it is a source of learning and self-discovery that helps unveil the validity of their assumptions and ideas. However, because doing research is a demanding process, i.e., time and energy-consuming, students need to be actively engaged and feel more committed to coming up with the intended outcome. Therefore, preparing students for research and honing the necessary skills are pertinent in any graduate programme.

So, before shifting into their roles as researchers, graduate students are supposed to get prepared to handle this task more effectively through learning about the research methodologies required. Still, one may address the following questions: What are the challenges these students face in conducting research? What is the level of preparation and support needed? In an attempt to answer these questions, a case study has been carried out on a sample of second-year Master students of English at Abdelhamid Ibn Badis University of Mostaganem (Algeria). At this degree level, these students are supposed to do research, write a research paper and present it by the end of their academic year. To prepare them for such a task, students study the research methodology course for 9 semesters (during both the Bachelor and Master degree).

In this concern, this research aims to find out about students’ needs, both in conducting and writing their research papers. It is also concerned with unveiling the existing pedagogical gaps in the research methodology courses, i.e., to what extent are these effective and responsive to both students’ needs and the intended learning outcomes?

Before discussing the research findings, some definitions of research are provided along with its objectives besides discussing the impact of students’ research participation on their learning and some difficulties they may encounter within. Because this case study is concerned with students’ difficulties with doing research and to what extent research methodology courses have supported them to achieve such work, the literature review also aims to account for research methodology and its significance in conducting academic research. This chapter also puts forward a set of suggestions to help graduate students conduct research successfully. These concern pedagogical implications regarding the content and process of training them into conducting research.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Skill: Is the ability to perform an action with determined results often within a given amount of time, energy, or both. Skills can often be divided into domain-general and domain-specific skills. For example, in the domain of work, some general skills would include time management, teamwork and leadership, self-motivation and others, whereas domain-specific skills would be used only for a certain job. Skill usually requires certain environmental stimuli and situations to assess the level of skill being shown and used.

Research: Is creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of humans, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications. It involves the collection, organization, and analysis of information to increase our understanding of a topic or issue.

Method: Literally means a pursuit of knowledge, investigation, mode of prosecuting such inquiry, or system. In recent centuries, it more often means a prescribed process for completing a task.

Knowledge: Is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts (propositional knowledge), skills (procedural knowledge), or objects (acquaintance knowledge).

Research Methodology: Is the specific procedures or techniques used to identify, select, process, and analyse information about a topic. In a research paper, the methodology section allows the reader to critically evaluate a study’s overall validity and reliability.

Time Management: Is the process of planning and exercising conscious control of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity. It involves a juggling act of various demands upon a person relating to work, social life, family, hobbies, personal interests and commitments with the finiteness of time. Using time effectively gives the person “choice” on spending/managing activities at their own time and expediency.

Training: Is teaching, or developing in oneself or others, any skills and knowledge or fitness that relate to specific useful competencies. Training has specific goals of improving one's capability, capacity, productivity, and performance.

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