Research Methods – Spring 2021

Welcome to Research Methods online! A full syllabus is here. Our goals in this class are:

(1) to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design, and then:
(2) to reflect on that process and name its characteristics, so that:
(3) you might one day support your students in this kind of inquiry and design.

For 13 weeks of the course, you will be developing and pursuing a research question. However, within this broad structure, we have smaller two-week “make cycles”: readings, reflections, and “makes.” The themes below are somewhat flexible. After a week of developing questions, we may decide to reflect on “making mistakes” a little earlier than expected, say. I’ll update those in advance.

In addition to this website, the main platforms we will use are Perusall (for reading papers together) and Currents (for posting your homework and commenting on others).

Week 1: Making Friends: Introductions (January 11)
Weeks 2 – 3: Making questions (January 18)
Weeks 4 – 6: Making observations (February 1)
Weeks 7 – 8: Making mistakes (February 22)
Weeks 9 – 10: Making footholds (March 8)
Weeks 11 – 12: Making progress (March 22)
Week 13: Making a point (April 5)
Weeks 14 – 15: Making a statement (April 19)

You should expect to spent about 10 hours per week on class (guidelines say that a 3 credit class is 3 hours in class and 6 – 9 hours out of class). I would structure it something like this (starting Week 2). If not exactly this schedule (maybe your weeks are busy and weekends are not? you work nights and sleep until noon?), we highly recommend creating a similar schedule that works for you and putting it in your calendar:

Monday: sign into Perusall and respond to any comments on the reading (due by midnight), adding comments and questions and replying to others; then check in on Currents to be up to speed on what others have done last week, raise questions, reply to any questions on your posts, and be prepared for Tuesday (~ 1 hr)
Tuesday: come to class on zoom from 12:00 – 1:15. – This is our Lab Meeting time. Plan to discuss your progress/questions/ideas and get feedback. (~ 1 1/2 hrs)
Wednesday: consider this a “lab” day – set aside a chunk of time, turn off all distractions (where possible!), and spend time with materials, questions and ideas. Use your notebook, take some photos, document ideas, vexations, questions. Post a photo of your workspace on Currents; update questions on Currents. (3 hours)
Thursday: Office hours! – You might be ready to continue with your project and questions, making progress and posting to Currents. Or maybe on Wednesday you tried something and it failed and you need to bounce ideas off of others. Then check in on zoom if you have questions or want to bounce ideas off of us. Either way, plan to use 12 – 1:15 today to make progress (~1 1/2 hrs)
Friday: Read the Perusall reading and take time to reflect on your work this week. You’ve done about 5 hours on your research and another 2 hours on reflection/reading this week! – Make sure your workspace photo and questions are posted. (~2 hours)

Monday: your “make” is going to be due this week: be sure you’re well on your way. Check in on Currents to be up to speed on what others have done, raise questions and be prepared for Tuesday (~ 1 hr)
Tuesday: come to class from 12:00 – 1:15, prepared to discuss – This is our Lab Meeting time (~ 1 1/2 hrs)
Wednesday: “lab” day! – set aside a chunk of time, turn off all distractions (where possible!), and spend time with materials, questions and ideas. Use your notebook, take some photos, document ideas, vexations, questions. Post a photo of your workspace on Currents; update questions on Currents. (3 hours)
Thursday: Office hours! – you have a “make” due this week, so you might use office hours to chat about this, or use this time to make progress on your “make.” (~ 1 1/2 hrs)
Friday: Make is due by 5 pm Sunday! Turn off distractions, focus and finish today and your weekend is free 🙂 (~2 – 3 hours)