Previous research has indicated that undergraduate student learning can be enhanced through active involvement in research. Furthermore, creating an academic environment where teaching and research are intimately linked can facilitate the induction of students into a community of learners where new knowledge is created, explored and critiqued. Scaffolding and supporting student learning via engagement in authentic research experiences can work to ensure graduating students have the capacity to generate and investigate important questions that contributes to the development of new knowledge. This paper presents a case study that outlines curriculum design and pedagogical strategies aimed at integrating teaching and research within the first year of an undergraduate course. First year Food and Nutrition students were asked to partake in a research project where they were asked to complete a series of diet and food related questionnaires, analyse, interpret and critique the resulting data. Students were supported through this learning activity via small group tutorial support and question and answer sessions within the learning management system. Anonymous evaluation of the teaching and learning experience was conducted at the end of the teaching period and the results indicate that the students welcomed the opportunity to engage in an authentic, research based learning activity. Students’ found the assessment tasks were clearly explained to them (88% agreeing), and felt well supported in approaching this research based assessment task. Furthermore, the qualitative comments indicated that the students’ found the learning environment to be meaningful and relevant. This case study indicates that it is possible to effectively incorporate authentic research experiences within the curriculum of a first year course. The experiential, inquiry based learning approach used supported the students’ participation in a systematic, rigorous data collection process required in a structured research environment and blended these requirements with authentic learning of discipline specific skills and knowledge.
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Field of Research
130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy
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