Our HRM students have to write their dissertation to end their studies. For most of them, this is the very first time they engage with a real time project, crafting a research question, and with designing and last not least applying research methods. Aiming at HR functions, they chose case studies, including qualitative approaches.
In this module, and aligned with the lectures, I allow the students to experience the research process from the idea to conducting the research, to interpreting and discussing the findings. Students gathered in groups of 4-5 and conducted their own project. Core workshop time was used to teach the research process but at the same time to apply it, breaking up in small group work to allow the students to work on research questions, interview guide – and whatever was at stake at that particular session. In the tutorials, students could further discuss their progress. All groups had to conduct 4 interviews and workplace observations.
To integrate some of the student’s creativity and innovative potential, the students presented their findings on a poster presentation mini-conference, where the teaching staff assesses the outcomes but also discusses the student’s experience in the field.
I ran this teaching tool for two years now. The students have been very engaged with their field work. The presentations have been creative, and the feedback was very positive. Though a clear evaluation of the impact on their further studies is still lacking, HRM teaching staff suggests so far that at least some of the dissertations benefited from the experiences.
In regards to the feedback from the students, they emphasise it was helpful to them to understand the complexity of experiences of job quality (one umbrella topic for the research). They also seem to acknowledge the differences between qualitative and quantative approaches much better.
Clearly the poster presentation mini-conference, where other departmental staff showed up and engaged in discussions with the student’s making them feel like equal partners in an academic discussion increased their motivation.
The challenges are the increasing student numbers in regards to the lack of rooms that are fit for purpose. It is crucial to have a room where you can split up in groups to run the workshops and the group activities. In the allocated lecture theatre, it can be done, but it is time consuming to try and find some space.
When I run it first, I did not think about the student’s and how they would hand in both the interviews and the poster presentations. I would definitely make sure to set up the groups on MyPlace so that each group has a proper upload area.
The teaching tool was used in a class of 135 students, with three tutors and some other teaching staff support. In essence, this is scalable, but then it would need some more tutorial support to accommodate all groups accordingly.
Below are some images showing the student activities