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Thursday, December 10 • 2:00pm - 2:30pm
Teaching Real Research through Experience: Undergraduate Learning in Hamilton Community-based Environmental Projects

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The SOTL literature suggests that undergraduate education – especially in less “accessible” areas such as research methods – benefits from application of “real” projects involving experential models tied to communities outside the university. The literature supporting these models emerged first in the work of John Dewey (1938) and has been developed around PSE more recently (c.f. Hamilton, 1980; Smith 2001, and Kolb and Kolb, 2005).

Starting in 2010, 60-100 students in the McMaster University Communication Studies core 2nd year research courses have participated annually in a range of qualitative and quantitative research on the communication outcomes of education components of local school boards in partnership with a local environmental group (BARC). The pedagogical process of learning and applying social research methods involved a re-focusing of course delivery, the development of instructor and graduate students teaching teams, and a range of institutional community relationships.

Evidence shows that students conducting experiential community research were more engaged in designing and executing a mix of social research techniques such as surveys, in-depth interviews, focus groups, and textual analysis when they worked with community partners (alongside faculty and graduate students conducting their own related research). 

This short presentation will tell the story of the process and outcomes in terms of teaching & learning best practices and improvements over a five-year period of implementation and development. It will be led jointly by faculty member Dr Philip Savage in conjunction with two recent CSMM MA graduates, Mr. Steve Watts and Mr Tom Wiercioch (who also at different points acted as TA’s in CMST 2A03/2B03). Follow up discussion will be moderated to discuss audience members' own experiences with similar projects.


Philip Savage

McMaster University

Thursday December 10, 2015 2:00pm - 2:30pm EST
Meeting Room A

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