Planning for questions on research methods

RM

Exam questions about research methods are very common

  • Discuss one or more research methods used to investigate the relationship between the brain and behaviour.
  • Evaluate one or more research methods used to study the interaction between technologies and cognitive processes.
  • Contrast two research methods used to investigate cultural origins of behaviour and cognition.
  • To what extent can any one research method be used to investigate factors influencing diagnosis?
  • Contrast two research methods used to investigate developing as a learner.
  • Evaluate one or more research methods used to study one health problem.
  • Discuss one or more research methods used to investigate social responsibility.

This means that planning is vital, as early as possible in the course

  • Decide which options/parts of options and which approaches you will teach, based on your preferences and the possibility of using the same studies as broadly as possible
  • Take one of the questions and choose two studies from the relevant curriculum topic area, that have contrasting methods. Focus on WHY a certain method was used, as well as HOW it was used in a particular study. 

Eg. Discuss one or more research methods used to investigate the relationship between the brain and behaviour.

Research method 1 –  Quasi- experiment, using *brain-imaging technique (MRI). Study – Maguire (2000 or 2006)

Research method 2 –  Case study, also later using *brain-imaging technique (MRI). Study – HM (Milner & Scoville, 1957; Milner & Corkin, 1968; Corkin 1987)

(Note – brain-imaging is not a research method, but a research tool.)

Both of these studies look at memory, but the careful student will plan an answer showing that while Maguire’s cross-sectional (short-term – at one point in time) study gave precision regarding changes in the hippocampus related to employment and training, Milner’s longitudinal case study approach gave a broader and more complex picture of how brain damage can affect a person’s memory and whole life. If the question is not ‘Discuss’ but is instead ‘Contrast’ or ‘Evaluate’, exactly the same information can be used from each study to draw out the differences or show how one research method might be preferable to another.

So, before starting to teach or study a topic, ensure that you have examples of two different research methods (observation vs. interview; experiment (including lab, field, quasi or natural) vs case study; survey vs experiment, etc.) 

This can be used to plan your course, and then research methods becomes embedded in your material, rather than an ‘add-on extra’. Don’t forget to have fun doing a few of your own experiments, interviews and observations as well!

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