CETL-AURS funded a variety of projects between 2005 and 2010 that aimed to integrate research-based learning in to the undergraduate curriculum and to enhance the student learning experience. Our projects were based around four core themes:
- Creating access to primary sources
- Developing Enquiry techniques and resources
- Learning through practice
- Enhancing final year projects
Creating access to primary sources
The University's Museums, Collections and Archives represent a significant research resource. However access to them, particularly for undergraduates, has been an issue, often relating to:
- having spaces and facilities adjacent to where archives are stored to make access and use possible;
- developing visualisation technologies to enable small objects to be observed by a large group; or
- ensuring fragile material is maintained in a condition where it can be handled by students.
Our projects concentrated on enabling students to access these rich resources.
Developing Enquiry techniques and resources
The development of skills can be greatly enhanced by the use of more student-centred technuques such as Enquiry-Based Learning (EBL) in the curriculum. This has a long tradition of use in some disciplines, but much less in others, and we therefore funded projects that encouraged innovation in curriculum design.
Undergraduates also need to spend time in self-directed study as part of their degree programmes, as preparation for classes and to develop critical and analytical thinking skills. CETL-AURS funds were used to support projects that developed student-centred materials for use for independent study, both to support individual modules and to underpin the overall development of research skills.
Learning through practice
Many undergraduates at the University of Reading learn genuine and practical research skills through undertaking primary research, either attending fieldwork courses, undertaking laboratory work, or by completing a placement either amongst university researchers or in industry. Some of our projects have sought to develop opportunities for students on summer placements through our Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme, or as part of their degree programme through a year-out. Other projects have aimed to maximise student learning by ensuring that the most up-to-date equipment is available for students to use, and that additional materials are available to support student learning. A further strand of our work have been to develop volunteer work for students.
Enhancing final year projects
The majority of undergraduate degree programmes develop students' skills so that they are in a position to carry out independent research by their final year through completing a dissertation or project. CETL-AURS funds were used to make final year projects a richer experience for our students by creating opportunities for them to undertake primary research, either through using the archives and collections or through laboratory-based projects.