A Research Question – The Hardest Part

After looking at Byron’s presentation I went and took a good hard look at what I was doing in my Games in Education course.  I had two projects that were supposedly “linked”.  Students were to make a game and connect it to education concepts discussed in the class.  The students were also asked to select a research topic related to the game they were making and tie the game, concepts in class and the research all into a connected understanding of how games in education worked.  So, one of the first questions I had to ask myself was, “Is this research?”  I think I will be starting my personal RSD framework decision matrix with this question.  The game assignment is designed to have students wrestle with educational concepts as they design a game – not an easy task and thus one of the points.  The activity serves as a great culminating task and an assessment but it isn’t research.  This left me with the research paper which also serves multiple functions.  One is for students to do a basic research paper.  The other is to integrate readings and information from the course.  I spoke to Byron Anderson about his model.  He expressed doubts that his model was sustainable in part because students had a difficult time generating their own research questions.  It was difficult for them.  I spent this week introducing my research project and I am more cognizant of student thinking at this point in time.  Along with the assignment to define a research question, I also gave students a survey asking them to identify questions/concerns related to the course that they currently had.  Student responses indicated that they are not getting the connection between the course content and the research paper.  To some degree the students are expressing doubts about its relevancy.  I did not introduce the RSD Framework to this group of students.  I just assigned the research paper.  Next time I will introduce the RSD Framework on some level.  I also saw what Byron expressed.  That is the difficulty the students had in generating their own research question. My strategy was having students post their research question to the course discussion board.  I then responded with suggested tweaks in wording, explain the null hypothesis, and suggested revisions to help students obtain a focus to their question.  There were library resources that helped and I spent one class period using these to have students identify the who, what, where, when so they could really get a “good” question started.  Students still struggled.  We spent the class period today starting a search with the library data bases and talking about annotated bibliographies.  I don’t think that I am going into enough depth and I am relying on students to go to posted links for additional information.  I am wondering about the approach I am using and whether I should spend more time on this assignment, chunk it differently, assign more scaffolded assignments, or just give them the assignment, provide support and hope they get it or ????   I am assuming that students have some background knowledge from their general education courses and are willing to visit online and library resources to pull this assignment off.  I need to really go back and focus on what elements I will require and what I am really  going to be asking students to complete.

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