Being a research intern with Professor Stephen Gallagher and Dr. Ann-Marie Creaven, I got the opportunity to attend my first seminar, and it was such a wonderful and invaluable experience.
Our guest speaker, Dr. Kate Button came over from the University of Bath to talk about working with students while promoting open science while Dr. Creaven discussed research-led teaching. In attendance were lecturers from both UL and MIC and also some PhD students.
Dr. Creaven began by speaking about research-led teaching and what it is. She discussed changing research and teaching and advocated for students taking part in and engaging with research to develop their skills and capabilities and to gain some experience. She also supported teaching that is heavily informed by research for a deeper understanding of the content. Dr. Button then focused on collaborative student projects using the consortium structure. She gave examples and explained the benefits in relation to limited funding and time for individual projects. She also discussed research in relation to those – from common research mistakes to bad research practices. At the end, the discussion was brought together by talk of open science and why it should be encouraged and actively used in science research.
As someone who would is considering doing a PhD and going into research and teaching in the future, this seminar gave me an insight into what that would be like. As a student, I felt like I had a different perspective on lecturers and researchers and what they do. As a student, I never really thought about the “behind-the-scenes” processes of planning and discussing that higher educators do to make sure everything goes well in class with the students’ best interests kept in mind. Sitting there and learning about research-led teaching and the consortium structure approach and how they both take more time and effort from lecturers but that they were all willing to do it for the benefit of their students was humbling and made me grateful to attend such a great university with such wonderful people.
The event was funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, and hosted by Dr. Creaven. There were so many interesting questions and discussions. Everybody left with a lot to think about and wishing that we had more than the two hours allocated.
Before this, I had never had an opportunity to attend this kind of an event but I am incredibly grateful that I finally did. It was so intriguing and insightful and gave me a lot to think about.
A Supervisor’s Perspective - Ann-Marie Creaven
I’m grateful to Dr. Button for taking time to travel to UL and share her consortium approach with us. There were lots of take-home points from the seminar and from the discussion! Here is some of what I took away from a supervisor’s perspective:
The consortium approach is an excellent way of collecting data for studies that require a substantial sample size.
To support the consortium model, hold a consortium meeting in Semester 1 (where students present their study hypotheses) and in Semester 2 upon completion of data collection (to discuss overall study findings).
Design a study that will be completed within an academic year – this ensures you have the team accessible to submit the paper by the end of that year (done and dusted in time for the next study & team).
You can use the model with longitudinal studies, but it might be helpful to have single-wave studies within that for the reason above.
It’s important to have a PhD candidate/post-doc have oversight and ownership of the bigger study, and preferably, data curation (bear this in mind for ethics).
Each consortium should apply for ethics as soon as possible. If approval is granted for one institution before another, it could be used to accelerate approval in the other partner institutions (depending on the policies). Don’t rely on getting approval in one institution to submit to your institution, as any hold-up in the first institution will have knock-on effects for you.
If social loafing is an issue, you can make individual study projects reliant on only the data that group/person collects.
Pre-registration for the overall study will be a considerable amount of work, so should happen well in advance. The students can complete briefer pre-registrations using aspredicted or similar, for their own projects.
Given differing deadlines for UG project completion, ensure that the deadline for data collection suits the earliest UG project write-up deadline.
Use authorship guidelines to determine authorship (usually, with the PhD/post-doc as first author).
Students tend to enjoy and benefit from this model – and advertising this model as the way you work well in advance, can help prepare students for this way of working.