Encouraging students to become researchers through collaborative research.

Over the past decade an increased emphasis on undergraduate research has led to the introduction of compulsory research methods courses in the second year of undergraduate social science degrees. Although the study of research methods is seen to be of critical importance in terms of preparing students to undertake independent research in their final year, the most appropriate pedagogical approach for its teaching remains hotly debated.
One pedagogical approach which offers a refreshing alternative to the traditional didactic style is to involve students as ‘co-creators’ and ‘partners’ in the teaching-learning processes. This approach has been applied in a wide variety of courses and found to produce higher levels of student engagement, increased ownership of their learning by students and enhanced transferable skills. When applied to the teaching and learning of research methods, this approach could be described as a ‘collaborative research approach’ where students learn about research through collaborating with their tutor on a shared research project. The staff and students work as partners on this project, sharing responsibility on selecting the direction and design of the research as well as its execution.
This paper will present the findings from a study carried out to evaluate the impact of implementing a collaborative research approach in an undergraduate research methods course. The study itself is the product of one of the staff-student projects on the course and combines both staff and student reflections on their engagement with this approach to learning research methods. Initial findings, showing that the use of a collaborative approach in the study of research promotes both student engagement and the development of a researcher identity among the students will be discussed.