Strengths and limitations of a learner-centred approach to teaching research methods


  • Simona Pantiru Sheffield Hallam University
  • Sarah Jolley Sheffield Hallam University
  • Ruth Barley Sheffield Hallam University


Evaluation, student led, learner centred


Evaluating teaching, learning and assessment methods at module-level is essential, particularly in enhancing academic quality. However, module evaluations are usually designed and conducted by the University to serve their own purpose of maintaining Academic standards and often do not consider student involvement in the process of module evaluation. In our project named Students as researchers, students were appointed as researchers to gather student perceptions on a large first year undergraduate (Level 4) research module for social science students. This is a compulsory module for Politics, Sociology and Criminology single and joint honours students. This module was recently revalidated and incorporated an applied approach towards teaching research methods after feedback from previous years.

The research has taken a mixed-methods approach. This encompassed an online survey questionnaire that has been distributed to all 467 first-year students on the module. To accompany this quantitative data, interviews were organized for richer, in-depth data to inform positive change on the development of the module.

The findings of this work have fed into further development of this module for future cohorts. This evaluation has offered teaching staff an opportunity to reflect on our research findings and their own academic practice both within the department and within other disciplinary areas. It has also offered students an opportunity to feedback on their own student experience at module level and in doing so to enhance the quality of teaching and assessment of the module for future cohorts. It has additionally allowed student-researchers to gain knowledge of the practicalities of action research methodology and evaluation research through taking part in the project.