Last term I was course tutor on a core unit for taught masters students at Bristol’s Graduate School of Education. The unit – Introduction to Educational Inquiry (‘IEI’) – is a pre-dissertation research training course that covers research philosophy and design, data collection and analysis (quantitative/qualitative), ethics, and dissemination. Students work in groups to undertake projects, the findings of which are presented at the end-of-term IEI conference. Assignments are then submitted involving reflection on the research process. The unit is notorious for being an intense introduction to research but it gives students a strong grounding in the theory and practice of educational inquiry before they plan their dissertations.
I’ve taught research methods before and helped run research workshops for MSc/PhD students, but this is the first time that I’ve taught a full unit on the topic. I was blessed to have a wonderful group who were more than happy to challenge both me and each other throughout the 10 week course. Having a diverse student body in terms of culture, education, and professional backgrounds made for a wonderful experience. We had mathematicians, scientists and psychologists entrenched in post-positivism debating with teachers, philosophers, and feminists who identified more with interpretivist traditions. Seminars became fertile spaces for debating epistemology, ethics and a whole plethora of issues that some established academics shy away from! The volume of A-grade students was impressive, and it was lovely to get a round of applause in my final lecture.
Because of fieldwork commitments in the new academic year I may not be teaching IEI in the Autumn. Instead, I’ll be leading a unit called Controversial Issues in Special and Inclusive Education – another fantastic space for debating hot topics. Roll on October 2016!
(Pictured: Berkeley Square, home to Bristol’s GSoE.)