Motivating and enabling adult learners to develop research skills

Author: Grace McCarthy, University of Wollongong

Edition: Volume 55, Number 2, July 2015

Summary:  Adult learners undertaking a coursework masters are understandably nervous about undertaking research projects. However if done well, such projects represent a way to encourage the quantity and quality of practitioner research, which is important in all management disciplines, not only the emerging discipline of coaching. This paper offers an alternative to the individual master-apprentice model to which many research students are still exposed. Addressing the motivational needs identified in self-determination theory (autonomy, competence and relatedness) as well as self-efficacy and incorporating good practices in feedback, it outlines a way to make the process of learning how to do research more engaging than sitting listening to lectures. The paper reports the findings of a survey of the participants in the 2012 cohort who were asked if their competence and confidence in undertaking a research project had changed before and after undertaking the class, and if so, to list what they, their peers or staff had done to contribute to this change. The paper concludes that the approach offers a useful way to help adult learners develop research skills.

Keywords: coaching, research skills, adult learning, self-determination theory.


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This article is part of AJAL, Volume 55_2. The entire volume is available in .pdf for purchase here.

Posted in Higher Education, Refereed article, Research report