Calling It By Name?

I have been physically absent from the meetings (and for that I apologize), but RSD is mentally present many times a week. In this post I’ll talk about incorporating research on a course-specific level.

The first half of my communication course was focused on getting students getting used to the idea of research and also showing them that as journalists/communicators in the classroom, they were already doing lots of research (and would need to continue to do so in their fields). I slowed down the development of the research project they are working on and took a week with each stage instead of a class session with each stage. I’m curious to see how everything turns out a the end of the term. They started with independent exploratory research and moved to collaborative research. They developed research questions and identified secondary and primary sources and parameters for projects. And now the findings — the fun part (at least in my mind ; )

As I go through my lessons and this process, I started thinking about the indecisiveness I have about an aspect of RSD. My courses that have the most research components don’t have research in their course titles or descriptions and this might be a good thing. Students don’t come to the course with preconceived notions about what the course will be like. That said, I talk about research from day one, and I wonder if that is a mistake.

I love research because it’s a process of discovering and finding out things that are totally new (or at least new to me.) Would calling this process something else — like “discovery” or “investigation” — get students more engaged from the get-go? Or does that make it confusing when they start to compare research amongst their courses and the various disciplines on campus? Should prioritize having a common language across campus about what research is, or should we focus on getting students engaged on a course-by-course level?


3 thoughts on “Calling It By Name?”

  1. Kate, these are really excellent questions! I have similar questions, and Bryon, in his excellent video ended by asking questions on a similar vein. I hope our cohort can help us to come to some decisions about these and other compelling questions about research, inquiry, discovery, or whatever it is we decide to call it 🙂


  2. I am pretty excited about this posting. Look how far we have come in 2 short months. We have moved from the question, “What is research and how do we define it?” to discussions about how we introduce research to our students. We are no longer stuck in the cyclical discussion about do we do research and how do we define it. We are all still grappling with issues of integration but we have come a long ways!


  3. We have been more widely using the Mechanical Engineering tutors’ recent re-configuration of the RSD that was designed to ‘speak engineer’. Their take on the same six facets or skills of the RSD is called ‘Optimizing Problem Solving’ (OPS) which highlighted the need for terminology that fits the context. We tried to use the RSD in undergraduate Engineering for years with little buy-in, but OPS is really starting to take off. The OPS framework is available:

    I like Kate’s question ‘Should we prioritize having a common language across campus about what research is, or should we focus on getting students engaged on a course-by-course level?

    While I am keen on having an articulation in common, so that students see the connecting threads, I think fit-for-context is equally necessary. I sometimes call this ‘Researching, problem solving, critical thinking: same ship, different bay’: see ship, different bay’: see


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