Not To Be Trusted With Knives

I was about to write a blog posting entitled “Can’t Blog. Marking Papers.” But that title seemed eerily familiar to me, so I Googled through my blog and discovered that I’ve already used that same title1.  I’m so original.

Anyway.  I’m pretty beat after a long day of a nutrition symposium + lunch with friends I haven’t seen in ages + Christmas shopping + dinner with Kalev, but I’m trying to get some more papers marked before I go to bed because my poor students have been waiting forever for me to mark their papers.  Because I’ve been spending every waking hour working on a ridiculously large grant application that was due yesterday.  I mean, remember when I sent out this report?  That pile is not even as big as one copy of the grant application I just submitted yesterday.  And I had to submit the original plus FIVE copies.  I was going to take a picture of this behemoth report, but we2 were scrambling to get the final package assembled in time for the FedEx guy3 to pick up, so I didn’t have a chance to run back up to my office to grab my camera. I do have my own copy of the submission, so I’ll snap a pic of that and then you can imagine it x5.  Suffice it to say that it filled up nearly two full boxes – the kind of boxes that you get photocopier paper in (you know, with like 10 packages of paper per box).  So, yeah, I killed a small forest and I hope it results in me getting the grant that we were applying for, so I can still have a job.

And speaking of jobs, I have another one and it requires that I go mark some more papers now!

1Or 3/4 of that title, anyway.
2 We = the four people it took to assemble the damn thing!
3Who we had to ask to give us 10 more minutes to finalize our package.


{November 14, 2008}   Research Methods Rule!

So, I’ve picked up a new class to teach next term: Research Methods. I am stoked because I *love* research methods.  This may or may not be because I’m a nerd.

Thus far, I have two issues with this course.  One is trying to find a good text book.  As you can see from the photo, I’ve got quite a sampling of books (plus I have a number of other evaluation copies on their way to me).  I haven’t reviewed them all in depth yet, but from scanning them, I haven’t found one that gives me what I want.  The problem I’m having with a number of them is that they overwhelmingly focus on quantitative methods and barely even touch on qualitative methods.  I should clarify here what I mean by “Research Methods,” as I’ve discovered from talking with people, “research methods” means different things to different people.  I’m not talking about library research (which was a number of people’s first impressions when I said I was teaching RM); I’m referring to designing scientific and social science research projects – experiments, quasi-experiments, survey research, qualitative interview type research, etc.)  It includes things like the philosophy underpinning different research approaches, research ethics, research writing and a bit about analysis of research results (but not super in depth as there is a separate statistics course).   I’d been hoping to get a kinesiology methods text (as this is a Kin Research Methods course), but so far the books I’ve seen have really skimped on the qualitative.  Like, a 400 page textbook will have 20 pages on qualitative research.

The second issue I’m having is that, while I’m super stoked to be teaching this course because (did I mention?) I love research methods, but everyone keeps telling me that it’s a course no one wants to teach because students don’t like it.  I even got a book on “best practices for teaching stats & research methods” and the whole intro was all “Students hate taking research methods. It’s like torture to them!”  And I’m all “*gasp*! How could anyone not love methods??” I think methods is super interesting and can be readily made interactive (hello! create a research proposal! hello, critique a research paper! hello, conduct a research project!) and relevant (even if you aren’t going to go to grad school and do research yourself, you need to be able to critically assess research that other people have done to, say, know what the best evidence is for any given situation).  And making things interactive and relevant, in my experience, is key to catching students’ interest and helping them learn.  But, seriously, I’ve been told by multiple people that students are really resistant to research methods course.

So, I’m putting the question to you, dear blog readers: Have you ever taken a research methods course?  If so, what did you think of it?  What would you recommend?

et cetera