Application of RSD Framework at the UoW
The University of Waikato Library uses the RSD Framework to form the basis of a programme of contextualised research skills development, in personalised and group settings, that supports students throughout their research journey at the University of Waikato.
What does the RSD programme involve?
This programme comprises tailored, or bespoke, opportunities for students at the University to access non-subject-related research competencies in a manner and time that suits them best. The programme also reflects the flexible delivery approach considered by the University as student-centred and suited to effective learning.
The RSD programme incorporates a continually-developing suite of online resources and content created by Library staff with discipline knowledge and technical expertise. These resources are embedded within Learning Management System papers and also available to access from the Library website. Other options include face-to-face delivery, including in-class, small group or individual consultations.
One of the identified benefits for the University in using a pivotal tool based upon internationally-recognised standards of best practice, such as the RSD Framework, is the ability to apply a structured, scaffolded rather than segmented approach to research skills acquisition across the curricula. The ability to map research skills across the curricula also promotes consistency of approach and assessed outcomes. As such, a collaborative library-faculty RSD-informed approach exploring the benefits of systematically scaffolding assessment outcomes, building from pre-degree/transitioning students through to postgraduate study has been employed at the University of Waikato.
The RSD programme and...
Research shows that pre-degree and transitioning students often enter university with a lower level of information literacy and research skills than other commencing students. Consequently, the principles of the RSD framework are used to support transitioning students through the development and delivery of a suite of Library workshops which introduce students to university level expectations regarding research fundamentals. Specifically, in preparation for moving into the RSD learning model, students are introduced to a broad overview of what a library is and its purpose within the academic environment. A basic orientation workshop is also included. As students progress into undergraduate or postgraduate courses they will continue a phased approach to the development of their research skills.
The Library runs a series of workshops open to all students covering different skills including using the library, finding information, and referencing. The content aligns with the RSD Framework, where taught skills are mapped to the facets of research and relevant scope of student autonomy. The workshops are designed to equip students with research skills competencies which progress from basic to advanced levels.
The Library also works with lecturers and tutors to provide both general skills and subject-specific content to specific classes, focusing on matching the appropriate level of content to the students’ position on the research skills development framework. Initial sessions start by covering simple skills and subsequent sessions are scaffolded to more advanced skills either in first year or in subsequent years. Content is provided via a variety of modes, including face to face lectures and tutorials, online lessons and activities through Moodle, video guides and through the Information Literacy Resource (ILR) website.
The Information Literacy Resource was inspired by Mike Eisenberg and Bob Berkowitz's Big6™ model for Information Literacy and was guided by the Australia and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy Standards. It was created in line with RSD principles and directs students through the steps of planning, finding, evaluating, organising, synthesising and using information.
Information Services Librarians assist pre-degree, transitioning and undergraduate students, through both face-to-face and video consultations at point of need. Other communication channels include emails, instant messaging, text messaging and phone. The purpose of such personalised interactions is to provide a contextualised structured approach, that facilitates the commencement of students’ research skills and understanding.
Case study for Undergraduates - School of Education MMP (Mixed Media Presentation) students
MMP students study for a Bachelor of Teaching via distance education, with on-campus block sessions held two or three times during the year.
The Library works with this cohort of students throughout their three-year study period through face-to-face tutorials when on campus and continuous provision of distance support throughout their programme.
Tutorials are informed by the RSD Framework, with activities designed to introduce students to the facets of the framework. Each tutorial builds on the previous ones to guide students through the levels and increase their autonomy when researching. For example, first-year activities fall into the prescribed research category and therefore are very structured, focusing on closed inquiries such as locating a particular book or article. By their final year, the students have progressed through to more scaffolded and open-ended researching and are expected to find their own sources, critically analyse them and build arguments around their topics.
Studying at postgraduate level is the next step along the continuum of research autonomy. Students will incrementally develop the skills associated with researching, problem solving and critical thinking.
At the University of Waikato, Academic Liaison Librarians assist postgraduate students at all stages of their research journey through one-on-one consultations, including both face-to-face and video consultations, and introductory workshops. These are all designed around the RSD framework with the goal of facilitating the development of students’ research skills.
Apart from introductory workshops offered by the Academic Liaison Librarians, specific requests are received from academic staff members for the delivery of either an individual or series of discipline-specific research skill development workshops for their students.
Academic Liaison Librarians also provide research consultations to postgraduate students. The purpose of such discipline-specific personalised interactions is to assist the student acquire greater autonomy in their research understanding and capabilities.
Case study for postgraduates 1: Masters of Counselling
There is an expectation of all postgraduate students entering university that they commence with the skills that will enable them to undertake their studies successfully. At a minimum level, this includes the ability to carry out research at a Bounded (Level 2) or Scaffolded (Level 3) extent of student autonomy. It is relatively common for Masters of Counselling students to have had a long break between study, and initial sessions with these students often need to focus more on building confidence and Digital Skills Development. While these students often have a history of conducting academic enquiry at university level, such research may have taken place prior to modern library discovery platforms, and before the proliferation of ebooks. As a consequence, both assessment and library workshops do not assume prior research skills and confidence and aim to guide students through the processes and thinking involved in research, commencing with the RSD framework’s Prescribed (Level 1) scope for student autonomy.
The Counselling Academic Liaison Librarian delivers a number of workshops with the students that commence with ensuring students understand the modern searching landscape and technologies. Assessments at the beginning of the Masters of Counselling course would be categorised as mostly Prescribed and Bounded Research. As the course continues, assessment expectations and Library Workshops focus on students progressing to Scaffolded Research level and the final workshop supports a joint group Literature Review that is developed into an article submitted for publication, with students working at Open-ended Research level and approaching the Unbounded highest level of student autonomy.
Case study for postgraduates 2: Design Research Methods (DSIGN581)
A series of research workshops are delivered to students enrolled in the research methods paper, DSIGN581, on a yearly cohort basis, using a mixture of didactic and hands-on training approaches. The workshops are designed to map expected research skills at the postgraduate level to the facets of the RSD framework. Topics covered encompass themes that equip students with skills needed right from the first facet of the RSD framework, embarking and clarifying concepts, through to the last facet, communicating and application of understanding to different contexts. Given that the research skills developed by postgraduate students are expected to evolve as they progress through their postgraduate studies, students enrolled in this research methods paper are further introduced to topics like “Good practices in academic scholarship” to highlight the more advanced skills required by independent researchers, such as effectively using scholarly materials, plagiarism, copyright and publishing their research.
Doctoral level study involves an institutional expectation that commencing students are capable of demonstrating advanced research competencies in order to undertake independent research.
The Library runs a series of workshops designed to assist research students develop and improve their skills as researchers. The workshops are based around the research lifecycle, from planning and preparing research, to processing and analysing data and information, through to publishing and promoting research and engaging effectively with audiences. The workshops also reflect the six facets of the RSD Framework from the initial embarking and clarifying concepts and information through to communicating and applying understanding.
Workshops are held regularly throughout the year, both face-to-face and online.
Other available support
Other key touch points of support available to students include:
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