A survey of the effects of a fourth year Introduction to Research Methods course

V.C. Galpin, S. Hazelhurst, C. Mueller, and I. Sanders

Technical Report TR-Wits-CS-1999-14, Department of Computer Science, University of the Witwatersrand, 1999.


Research skills are important for any academic and can be of great benefit to any professional person. These skills are, however, difficult to teach and to learn. In the Department of Computer Science at the University of the Witwatersrand we have for a number of years included the completion of a research report as part of our Honours programme. This paper is a case study of how we have implemented an introductory research methods Honours course to increase our students' exposure to research and to help them cope better with the research reports. This course provides an effective way of introducing research to a relatively large class of Honours students. It has now been given twice. 

Included in this study is a survey of students who took the course in 1999, focussing on the usefulness of the course for the research report, potential changes to the courses, plans for further research qualification and usage of LaTeX. Generally, the course was seen as useful. The results are presented and discussed, and suggested changes for future versions of the course are described. 

Our experience with the course is positive and we believe it has made a major impact on the way research is done by Honours students. Many of the problems we encountered with the Honours research reports prior to the introduction of the research methods course have been alleviated. 

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