Research Grant Proposal and Simulation

Brief description

Students, in teams of three, write an application for a research grant In the example given, their proposed research is to increase understanding of Quaternary environmental conditions, using one type of environmental indicator. They are interviewed by staff and students about their proposal. They join the interview panel to scrutinise their colleagues' proposals. Linked to this may be a preceding, separately assessed, exercise, where students have to do a 9-page monograph, showing a background knowledge relevant to their research application - in this instance, of one environmental indicator. Alternatively they may use monographs prepared by another class, as in the example.

Aims and skills

Writing application forms; interviewing and being interviewed; writing a research proposal; co-operating as a team; doing a library search on a specific topic.

Courses used in

Physical Geography: particularly useful for science courses.

What the teacher does

Prepare a list of readily available 'lead papers' on all the possible choices which students can make the subject of their proposed 'research' , e.g. on a range of environmental indicators - students will assimilate these and follow up with a library search for other relevant material. Give tutorials or advice either to each student or to each team Prepare standard application forms. Circulate to each team completed application forms relevant to their interviewing role. Ensure that relevant monographs are available. Arrange the interview sessions (15 minutes per application). Run these sessions, joining and managing the questioning. Give a mark for the research application

Problems for the teacher

Finding 'lead papers' for a range of topic options (students can choose from 9 in the exercise discussed here). Making time to give tutorials and advice. Running the interviews fairly, and so that all the panel have opportunities to question. Occasionally arbitrating when a group fails to co-operate in their research enterprise. Encouraging 'suspension of disbelief' during the interview, and yet being realistic in probing the student's actual depth of knowledge of the topic, e.g. how important is it that students can correctly 'cost' their proposal?

The Geography Discipline Network would like to thank the Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA) for permission to reproduce material from this publication.

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Page updated 7 July 2000