Diving into the Wide World of Research

Recently I uploaded a post introducing a research project that I was intending to engage in. So now seems like a good time to update you all on how exactly my research is progressing. With a few minor adjustments, I have begun working on the project and developed a planning portfolio to outline the steps I intend to take, in order to answer my focus question.

I have altered the focus question of my research project as I found my original question to be far too broad and not suitable for a project of my size. There was simply not enough time for me to conduct a study that large. I narrowed my question down to something smaller and more manageable that would allow me to still cure my curious mind. The new question I am focusing on for my project is:

“How many hours do Communication and Media Studies student spend at University each week?”

I have been undertaking both primary and secondary research with the aim of answering this question as best I can (let’s face it, I’m bound to run into at least a couple of obstacles along the way).

research

I have compiled a set of survey questions as part of my primary research, aimed at students studying a Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies. These surveys will allow me to determine how long these students spend at university during an average week, as well as how long they study outside of university, whether or not they attend all classes and if they work or engage in other activities outside of their studies.

I have also been engaging in secondary research and intend to use my findings as a comparison for my surveys, to determine whether the results found by others correlate with my own. The sources I am gathering my secondary research from include university websites, academic journals and newspaper reports.

A contingency plan has been included in my planning portfolio to ensure any issues I run into along the way can be resolved. The contingency plan will also assist me in finishing my final project on time, regardless of the problems I encounter along the way. It allows me to be responsible as a researcher and produce my results no matter what the findings may be.

For now I will continue to engage in secondary research and begin to recruit participants for my surveys. I look forward to keeping you all updated on the next chapter of my research adventure.

Until next time,

Sophie.

 

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Education Frustration

As a university student, I often find myself becoming overwhelmed with the vast amount of study that is required for my course. Every spare moment I get becomes consumed with reading and studying and working on assignments. As a full time student, there isn’t a day that goes by where catching up on uni work isn’t on my agenda. Is every other university student in the same boat as me?

Just recently, I’m finding myself becoming increasingly curious as to how long students actually spend at university each week. I personally only have 12 hours of classes (which does feel like about 67 hours I must admit), but is this the average for every student studying full time, or does it depend entirely upon which course they are studying? Furthermore, is there a correlation between hours spent at university and the difficulty of one’s course?

I have chosen to further research this topic to gain insight into the university attendance requirements of students. The question I have chosen for my research project is; “on average, how many hours do students spend at university each week?” This question will focus on the time spent in a physical classrooms by full-time university students studying various courses. I also intend to determine whether there is a link between hours spent in class and the difficulty of one’s studies, for example, a creative arts student may spend less time at university than a mechanical engineering student would.

study

Image source: timesofmalta.com

My research will focus on a small sample of students from the University of Wollongong but will examine students from a number of different courses. I intend to engage in primary research by using online surveys and in-person interviews with students at the University of Wollongong. I will be interviewing numerous students from different faculties to determine whether students undertaking more difficult courses spend more hours per week in university classrooms. I also intend to carry out secondary academic research to offer a comparison to my findings, with statistics and information from previous investigations. I will be presenting my results for each faculty as separate figures then also presenting a figure for the average amount of hours spent in class by University students as a whole. This will allow me to show the link between the course type and the hours spent at university by students taking that particular degree.

In my preliminary research I have come across various articles that will be of great use in my research project. A British study shows that University students are only spending an average of 13 hours per week in classrooms (Shepherd, 2012). Could this figure be the same for students at the University of Wollongong? This study will beneficial to me as a comparative investigation that I can link to my own findings as I engage in my primary research.

Another article I came across that is interesting to note, found on the UOW website, stated that for each hour of face-to-face classes i.e. lectures and tutorials, a student is required to do 3 hours of extra study in their own time (University of Wollongong, 2016). Meaning for myself, I not only have to go to university for 12 hours per week, but am also required to do 36 hours of study per week on top of that. What does this mean for students who spend more time in face-to-face classes?

As I continue to research and investigate my topic I will gain more insight into my whether my question is appropriate or whether I need to reconsider my topic. I will also learn whether I have chosen the correct research methods to provide me with the answers I need in relation to my question. Overall, I aim to gain a greater understanding of the attendance requirements of university students and whether the difficulty of one’s course determines this.

References:

University of Wollongong 2016, Mature Aged Students, University of Wollongong Australia, viewed 24 March 2016
<http://www.uow.edu.au/future/mature/UOW076744.html#7&gt;

Shepherd, J 2012, ‘University student spend no more time with lecturers than six years ago’, The Guardian, 17 May, viewed 24 March 2016
<http://www.theguardian.com/education/2012/may/17/students-time-lecturers&gt;

 

Curious Minds

I have to admit, I am one of those people who turns to Google whenever I become sick. Coincidentally I became sick last week and once again used ‘ye old faithful Dr. Google’ to research my symptoms.

Runny nose. Check.
Sore throat. Check.
Chesty cough. Check.
Hot and cold flushes. Check.

Great, the internet says I have cancer and might have to get my leg amputated.

Using Google to research your illness is a very bad idea and I do not recommend it. But as a naturally inquisitive human being, curiosity gets the better of me and I constantly find myself aimlessly scrolling through a mountain of Wikipedia articles until all hours of the morning.

But not always does curiosity lead us in the wrong direction. Curiosity can lead to wonderful things and being a naturally curious person has its benefits. Curiosity increases our desire to research and learn new things and is an important part of the learning process. Okay so maybe Wikipedia isn’t the most reliable research source, but in my efforts to self-diagnose what turned out to be your average cold, I did actually learn some pretty valuable information (the main thing being, do not use the internet to research your cold and flu symptoms).

One’s eagerness to learn new things is often driven by curiosity and a burning desire to actively seek out new information (Stenger, 2014). A series of experiments conducted by researchers at the University of California revealed that changes occur in the brain when humans are particularly curious about learning certain information. When one takes particular interest in a certain topic, it is much more likely that the information learnt will be retained by the brain (Stenger, 2014). Sparking one’s curiosity also leads to greater activity in the “pleasure region” of the brain, releasing “feel-good chemicals” called dopamine (Stenger, 2014).

This shows a direct link between research and curiosity and how learning can be much more valuable through discovering information that one takes great interest in.

So long story short, if you’re particularly curious to know what baby dolphins look like at 3 in the morning, turn to google images and give your brain a bit of satisfaction.

References:

Stenger, M 2014, ‘Why Curiosity Enhances Learning’, Edutopia, 5 March 2016
<http://www.edutopia.org/blog/why-curiosity-enhances-learning-marianne-stenger&gt;