Teaching research methods

This semester I’m teaching a section of History 298: History Practicum, the second half of a two-course methods sequence for our majors. In the first half of the sequence, we focused more on historiography, and students finished the semester by writing a literature review. In the second semester, they develop their own unique topics and work closely with primary sources to eventually produce an 8-10 page research paper. In addition to a primary source analysis, short lit review, and other assignments building towards that final paper, students will blog about their digital identity and research processes and experiences, and develop/maintain a website with an online portfolio and resume.

It so happens that I’m simultaneously beginning work on a project for a conference in June, a paper which examines a 1668 New York rape case involving Mary Miller and Nangenutch alias Will, a Montauk Indian. Since we’re working in parallel, I’ll be completing some of the same assignments as my students and using my own website to document that process, hopefully modeling for the class the website and research assignments they’re expected to complete. For the time being, at least, I won’t be making everything public/open–the final paper I’ll keep to myself–but much of my working process will be transparent, if anyone wants to follow along.

 The website is http://nangenutch.jasonsellers.org/

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2 Responses to Teaching research methods

  1. Steve says:

    This is a great approach to take. I do it myself when I teach research methods, at least when the course lines up with a project of my own. Modelling always has more of an impact than just telling students about research. There’s something more real about modelling that the students really see. I look forward to hearing more about your experience.

    • admin says:

      I’m excited to see how it works. This year is the first time I’ve taught a methods class at UMW, and I just happen to have a project that should work as a model; a lot of the stuff I do would be harder to relate quite so clearly, or is at such a different stage that going through the process in parallel with my class would be awkward. An extra benefit of this particular project is that it involves sources I used in my colonial America class last semester, so some of the students in the research seminar will be familiar with the basics of this case.

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