University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Sep 2017
EventBritish Educational Research Association Annual Conference 2017 - University of Sussex, Brighton, United Kingdom
Duration: 5 Sep 20177 Sep 2017


ConferenceBritish Educational Research Association Annual Conference 2017
Abbreviated titleBERA Conference 2017
CountryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


an essential skill. However, in seeking to deliver and support the development of practical knowledge and skill sets, the assessment of Research
Methods remain a significant challenge. This is particularly true in virtue of the need for assessment to satisfy complex Learning Outcomes that
include the conceptual, theoretical, methodological and analytical. Despite the shared academic and professional value of research competence,
Research Methods modules often carry a zero-credit weighting, attract restricted resource and suffer poor student engagement, presenting further
challenges for the development of effective summative and formative assessment.
With the rise of new forms of learning and teaching technologies, new resource-efficient opportunities have emerged to develop authentic, engaging
and interactive assessment. The development of student-centric approaches to the teaching and learning of Research Methods offers new avenues
for progress. The challenges associated with advancement in Learning and Teaching practices are compounded by discipline-specific norms
regarding epistemology, ontology and research design. Hence, contributing to the development of a broad-reaching solution that maintains discipline
relevance requires emphasis on a commonality across disciplines, on the learning journey.
The paper reports findings from a project exploring technological approaches to supporting student experience through the development of a
narrative-based assessment tool, which supports complex, practice-oriented research decision making. To address the challenges associated with
this development, a Soft-System Methodology was employed. This is an action-oriented approach, capable of facilitating the integration of both
technological and human aspects in complex problem solving and modelling. Such an approach enables continuous improvement and directly
mandates the inclusion of all stakeholders involved in those situations, in which the results are to be employed. Academics, technologists and
students are engaged in a systems-thinking approach to the iterative development of practicable solutions. Furthermore, this approach affords
opportunities to integrate additional subject-specific knowledge with the application framework.
The findings are drawn both from the development process and from the formal evaluation of software piloting through the use of survey and focus
group data. The paper contributes to the development of an application framework that acknowledges the temporality, sensitivity and need for
internal coherence involved in making decisions pertaining to research methods across disciplines. In doing so, it draws out potential implications for
inter-disciplinary comparisons and contrast between approaches to research methods learning and teaching and practice.


Phillip Mason, Mariana Dodourova, ‘Exploring Technological Solutions to Research Methods Assessment: Methodological Storyboarding towards an MBA Dissertation’, abstract presented at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference 2017, Brighton, UK, 5-9 September, 2017.

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