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Student Perceptions about my IT Research Methods Delivery

10 February 2016

Last semester (September 2015 – December 2015) I handled level 300 learners in Information Technology Research Methods. This is a course I love, and would like to teach it any day, anytime, anywhere, very well! There were three different classes made up of the Tuesday morning class of about 70 students, the Tuesday Evening class of about 45 students, and the Wednesday morning class of about 35 students.

The first day in class was interleaved with confessions of what I wish I did not do and/or did in the previous batch I handled. Such confessions were mostly followed with a promise to the students, that “I would make them do research“, because I did not see how one could learn research without doing research. I had only lectured the previous batch; weekly reading and explaining content slide by slide, and giving students some short quizzes here and there. Can you imagine I did not make them read a single paper when I taught them literature review? [now I am sounding confessional all over].

This is what I did with this class. I structured my 12-week course according to how they would write their final year project with the expectation that learners should be able to undertake design science research independently [with little supervision, for they will be assigned supervisors]. Ho! Week 1: I lectured an introduction to research and what it is all about. Week 2: I introduced Natural Science research and Design Science research, and hammered that the school expected them to undertake research of the latter type, then assignment 1: for them to identify and describe in 500 words a problem in government, an organisation or society which could be solved with ICT. They made the assignment look like I expected them to run a marathon in 30 minutes; they bargained for fewer words. I remained “cold”. They presented the following week, admirably. That week [Week 2] was for literature review. OMG, they made it feel like it was the last straw; they were to expand their 500-word description to include a Background to the Problem, Research Problem, Research Purpose, Research Objectives, and Research Significance. They did it nonetheless.

The following week when I took them through how to write a literature review, they were to identify and download 10 peer-reviewed journal articles relevant to their research problem. The papers were to be used to prepare a 1500-word preliminary literature review noting the articles’ main arguments, research problem, limitations, and suggestions for future research which relates to their research problem. Even the Dean heard about this, much less the previous batch students. I did not worry much, but stripped the review down to an annotated bibliography. The following week, I provided feedback, and asked them to expand the write-up they were to expand to 40 – 50 articles. I made them write a proposed methodology section as well. Then, I told them how all these assignments would be helpful in writing their research proposals the following year; appreciative smiles began to come forth.

Honestly, I could not go through to the end like a full project because I thought they had to develop the artifact as part of the requirements of a full design science research; so I stopped at the proposal stage which some took the entire semester to complete. It was worth it. Based on advise from a teaching and learning in higher education seminar, I decided to collect some impromptu feedback from my learners. I used a one-pager with eleven statements which learners were to grade using one of five options [strongly agree, agree, neither agree nor disagree, disagree, and strongly agree], and two open statements one requesting for general comments about the course, and the other for general comments about the lecturer. Here I share all sixteen comments about me; I will share the quantitative results later [I love qualitative data].

The lecturer was more pressing and made the course a (sic) bite difficult and plenty to learn but in the end, he was a good lecturer and my favorite too.

The lecturer was more pressing and made the course a (sic) bite difficult and plenty to learn but in the end, he was a good lecturer and my favorite too.

Very effective, patient and approachable

He seems friendly but too firm. His style of presentation is cool.

He made the lecture period more practical at certain period.

The lecturer did his best to cover all areas.


No comment

I think I like his way of teaching. It makes me want to know more about this particular course.

More quizzes should be organised.

So far the lecturer is good but I think the lecture should look for other methodology and approach to add to the existing one so that to help students see the course as interesting and relevant.

I can say, there have been changes with method of teaching compared to Systems Analysis.

He makes class lively

He did his best.

Thumps (sic) up to the lecturer. I think he is realy learned and was in absolute control over every topic treated.

The lecturer is good and understands the subject very well, making it much easier for me to understand and grasp what he taught. I really liked that.

The positives I take from these comments:

  1. I will keep giving practically relevant take-home assignments.
  2. I will use a learning management system to enhance my accessibility and learner engagement.
  3. Continue being friendly, effective, patient, approachable, tolerant and empathetic, but firm on principles.

Overall, I will keep making my learners’ brains work; they will sweat, but they will improve till they become the envy of all, and I their favourite lecturer, not because of popularity, but because they know, and I believe I made a positive difference!

What sayest thou about these perceptions, and my positives?

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