What is Educative Research?
Put simply, Educative Research uses scientific research as a tool to train students in the practice and process of scientific inquiry in the context of solving real world problems. We need people – both scientists and non-scientists – who can work in diverse teams to find innovative, practical solutions to address real world problems. Research has shown that the most effective way to learn is by doing. Therefore, the overall goal of Educative Research is to apply TheCOM approach to learning by doing science. While our primary focus is training science students, many of the Diverse Skills we emphasize, such as critical thinking, problem solving, effective communication, working in a diverse team, etc., are highly desired professional skills both inside and outside of science.
What elements are required to be considered an Educative Research project?
All Educative Research projects must integrate TheCOMTM approach with 3 key elements:
- Strategic Career Management (SCM) – teaches students to identify and target the Diverse Skills needed for their career paths of choice. This element helps build student ownership of their learning by providing them with the information, resources and experiences needed to 1) explore their career options, 2) identify and select career paths most aligned with their interests and values and 3) develop SMART goals and strategies to achieve their career goals. TheCOMTM is used both inside and outside the classroom to introduce students to SCM and support them in navigating the education phase of their careers.
- Interactive Learning – enables students to learn Core Concepts & Competencies (see Vision and Change 2011) by engaging in hands on activities and interactive discussions. For example, TheCOM™ chats are used inside and outside the classroom to promote interactive learning through discussion. Along with other lab and lecture modifications, TheCOM™ chats will develop students’ critical thinking and communication skills and will provide them with direct access to a variety of scientific professionals.
- Authentic Research – provides a framework to facilitate student learning of Core Concepts & Competencies. Rather than developing a series of interactive but disconnected activities, students are introduced to a research question and engaged in the process of scientific inquiry to test that question.
What are the criteria for Educative Research projects?
To achieve the goals of Educative Research, authentic research projects are selected based on 3 criteria:
- Learning – Because the pace of technological advancement so quickly makes techniques obsolete, Educative Research emphasizes the process and practice of science rather than covering certain techniques. However, to be most effective, the research project must provide an appropriate conceptual framework for student learning of course-specific concepts and competencies. All experiments conducted must be appropriate for the research question and aligned with course-specific learning objectives.
- Impact – To produce professionals who will value and initiate working in diverse teams to help find innovative, practical solutions to real world problems we must train them within this same context. Therefore, Educative Research projects must exhibit demonstrable relevance to real world need on a local, regional, national or international scale. We anticipate this approach will also increase the diversity of our graduates, as the disconnect between traditional science education and real world application is one of the primary reasons for lack of retention of women and other underrepresented groups.
- Scale – To have the greatest impact, Educative Research projects should harness the increased capacity TheCOMTM approach provides to target and fill gaps rather than compete with existing research groups. Academic labs are often restricted by grant cycle, “fundability” and man power limitations while companies must focus their resources where they can be sure to make a profit to maintain sustainability. TheCOMTM‘s Educative Research Initiative provides a unique opportunity to address research questions that require a large, collaborative workforce and/or extended time scales that do not immediately result in a marketable product.
For an example of an Educative Research project, check out The BIOME project.