For the course Thesis Proposal, we ‘asked’ our students to experiment with 6 different research methods. The purpose of the assignment was to gain familiarity with different research methods & gain insight in how the method influences the outcome.
The set-up was simple. Each group of students received an envelope that contained: the introduction of a thesis (including research questions & the definition of a problem), a specific location (i.e., the place where they should perform their research), a research method, a method for analysis, and a blank piece of A3 paper. There was also a strict time limit: they only had 2.5 hours to complete the task.
After the research & analysis phase, they were asked to present their work. The class then discussed the following: What were their findings? What was the strength/weaknesses of the research method? What would they do differently if they had to do the same experiment? In what research phase would you use that particular method? Why?
The overall result of the assignment was positive. Although the results differed (due to the different locations & research methods), the students did immersed in the find… only if it was just for a little while. They observed, participated and talked with people on the street to gain insight in the problem. They were also able to identify connections between different phenomena. Indicating that they could recognise causal relations between objects, people and events. In all, a satisfactory outcome.