Incoming graduate students typically have varied prior experience with research in terms of course work and application. Curricular experiences need to be such that all students, regardless of prior knowledge, achieve the desired learning outcomes. A related issue is anxiety related to research-related courses, which are oftentimes viewed with great trepidation. These courses are perceived as being difficult and mathematics-intensive resulting in students beginning the courses with a high degree apprehension about their performance. The related anxiety leads to procrastination and avoidance of the coursework, sometimes until the very end of their programs of study. This research avoidance results in students missing out on the benefits of acquiring and developing a research knowledge base and related information literacy, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills that would have supported their other learning experiences throughout their programs of study. Thus, the challenge is to provide a set of integrated learning experience that supports the development of research-based competences for students with varying prior knowledge while lowering the anxiety and frustration that accompanies these courses.
This presentation describes the development and implementation of a competency-based, foundational graduate research methods course that utilizes inquiry-based approaches and instructional strategies.