Traditionally learning process is perceived as a very complicated process creating a variety of difficulties both students and teachers face. Many students acquire learning experience making a lot of errors and attempts which eventually lead them to academic success, which, in its turn, create the basis for a further successful professional career. Unfortunately, not all students achieve positive academic results that often deprive them of specific opportunities in their professional career, and one of the reasons of such a failure is their inability to cope with the challenges they face in the learning process.
At the same time, it is necessary to underline that learning lasts as long as human life endures and an individual should acquire new skills, abilities, knowledge during his/her life that makes it particularly important the learning experience and individual’s ability to cope with the challenges he or she faces in his/her learning process. One of such challenging learning experience is the research students have to do, and this is probably one of the most important and challenging skills they face. By the way, it is evident that not only students are challenged with research this is why, if it is a problem for an individual, then its role increase dramatically, regardless his/her educational level.
Initially, inexperienced learners find research a tough challenge they can hardly cope with, but it is necessary to emphasize from the beginning that the positive results of an investigation are probably the most potent stimuli and motivation for further learning and self-development. Nonetheless, returning to the first problems students face while working on research, it should be said that if they are not acquainted or, to put it more precisely, not experienced in the study they will face difficulties both practical and psychological. The problem is that students face a variety of new learning experiences, which are “composed of a knowledge component (the representation of the facts, concepts, principles, procedures and/or theories in a certain subject, characterised by learning, remembering and/or reproducing) and a task performance or skills development component” (Cutler 1981:125).
In such a way they have to solve the problem of not only the research proper but its presentation as well. Naturally, it poses new challenges for students. For instance, they should be able to research independently, paying attention to a theoretical background of their research and technical aspects needed for proper analysis. Moreover, they also need to present their research in a possible persuasive form so that theoretical and empirical facts they discuss in the study were perceived and accepted by the audience, whoever it consists of.
Naturally, it creates a number of purely technological difficulties such as planning, gathering, and analysis of information, work with statistic data, structuring of the research, in such a way, research contributes to “enabling learners to blend theoretical frameworks with real-life experience” (Nyden 1991:399) and, finally, persuasive presentation, which needs a high level of eloquence and self-esteem, which are essential for the student’s research was persuading enough and, consequently, successful. Another problem the researchers regardless their degree and experience may face is the problem of objectivity. In fact, the less experienced is a researcher, the higher is the risk that his/her research will be subjective.
Naturally it is practically impossible to achieve absolute objectivity, but still, this is very important for good research and, unfortunately, the beginners are not very successful at solving this problem.
As a result, facing such practical obstacles and problems, researchers risk being trapped by many psychological issues. For instance, for the beginners, it is difficult to combine such a variety of activities, both theoretical and practical, which proper research demands. Moreover, sometimes they may find the results of their study to a certain extent paradoxical or contradicting to their traditional views, opinions, and beliefs. All this may lead to psychological problems such as higher level of anxiety, sometimes re-evaluation of their self-esteem, and as they have a new experience such as situation may be quite stressful for students as well as other researchers since often they are influenced by their rigid activities and routine learning process.
Despite the difficulties and obstacles researchers have to cope with, research is a very useful learning experience for it involves multiple types of learning beginning from the fact that they have to work independently, develop their research till the moment of its presentation but this, actually does not mean that they are deprived of any consultation as well as cooperation with other researchers.
Anyway, it should be pointed out that research is really effective learning experience, especially if it is successful since during research students “will have their curiosity aroused, will have an increased motivation to learn, and will be able to translate what they have experienced meaningful insights into the subject matter” (Nyden 1991:401) because it will be their success from the beginning until the end.
However, it is important to underline that research creates opportunities for personalized learning that includes “that which the learner has learned, which has not been directly taught, or what a learner has learned beyond a given subject area” (Eisner 1979:311). In such way research, being highly personalized contributes to the effectiveness of learning.
Finally, it is possible to discuss some recommendations as for this learning experience briefly. In this respect, it is to refer to such specialists as Cutler, Nyden, Takata, and Leiting, according to which learners have to be involved as fully as possible in a research project. Furthermore, ‘learning by doing’ approach may also be quite useful if provided amply to learners since it “does address the issues the learners’ research expectation at the onset of their research projects, of increasing learners’ understanding of the realities of the research event” (Takata and Leating 1987:507).
Thus, in conclusion, it is possible to say that research is quite a useful and challenging learning experience, but if it is provided with an excellent guide and if learners have enough practice it may contribute significantly to the growth of learners enthusiasm and motivation.
Cutler, S. J. (1987). The A.C.E. freshman survey as a baseline instrument for surveying projects in research method courses. Teaching Sociology, 15, 121-127.
Eisner, E. (1979). The educational imagination. New York: Macmillan.
Nyden, P. (1991). An interview with Phil Nyden. Teaching Sociology, 19, 396-402.
Takata, S. R., & Leating, W. (1987). Learning from doing: The teaching of sociological research practice to undergraduates. Sociology, 15, 505-512.
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