Investigations into the Research Preparation of Masters Students for Independent Study (RPIS)
journal contributionposted on 22.09.2016 by Gavin Brown
Any type of content formally published in an academic journal, usually following a peer-review process.
One of the academic understandings that formed the basis of the merger of the Auckland College of Education and The University of Auckland, School of Education to form the Faculty of Education was that evidence-based research would inform faculty teaching. For three years prior to the merger, the School of Education and Auckland College of Education had cooperated in offering postgraduate programs through the Institute of Education. During this time, the role of research methods courses became a source of discussion. They were made compulsory in the new qualifications but the Institute was faced with requests to include a range of courses within the ‘research methods approved’ category. This gave rise to discussions about the purposes of the regulations and of the research methods courses themselves. It was generally agreed that they were ‘required’ because of the preparation they offered for independent study for either a thesis or dissertation However, the criteria for evaluating the suitability of
particular courses remained ill-defined. In response to these emerging concerns and with the intention of promoting high quality research within the Faculty, it was decided to
formally evaluate the quality of research preparation provided by the Faculty.
Thus, from September 2005 to December 2006, a series of studies and investigations into the preparedness of masters students in the Faculty of Education for independent
study was conducted. The research was commissioned by the Dean of Faculty and the former Head of the School of Education, City Campus. The studies were designed and
conducted by Dr Gavin Brown and a research advisory group consisting of the Head of Postgraduate Programmes and the Associate Deans of Research and Academic. All
studies were conducted with the approval of the Human Participants Ethics Committee (Ref. Numbers: 2006/Q/004 and 2006/207) and data were collected through voluntary
participation of the faculty’s staff.
The major goal of the studies was to inform the review of research methods courses and curriculum within the Faculty, and contribute to decision making about future
regulations for masters level research preparation. The involvement and cooperation of the Faculty masters supervisors was sought in an initial meeting held in November 2005 where it was agreed a multi-project process should be undertaken. Three studies were
proposed and undertaken:
(1) a review of (a) current regulations and research methods provision in the Faculty of Education and (b) literature on the preparation of masters students in education for independent research;
(2) a survey of supervisors’ opinions about requirements for and responses to identified needs; and
(3) surveys of student satisfaction and current quality of assessed student performance in research methods classes.
It should be noted that due to low levels of participation this group of studies could not be completed and are not reported here.
This report brings together the literature and regulation review studies and the supervisor survey studies and provides discussion points to assist decision making within
the Faculty of Education about provision of research methods instruction.