Empowering first year (post-matric) students in basic research skills: a strategy for education for social justice
Post-matric students from under-resourced (historically disadvantaged) black high schools generally encounter difficulties in their academic work at university. The study reported here was intended to empower first year (post-matric) students from these schools with basic research skills in a bid to counteract the effects of their high school under-preparedness. The context of an English and Academic skills module was used to offer a hands-on collaborative research skills experience based on John Dewey’s concept of “learning-by-doing”. The students were an intact class of Human and Social Sciences first year students involved in a research endeavour based on student-generated topics. The research project was carried out in small groups during the second semester of the year. Qualitative data were collected by means of an open-ended questionnaire and a written report at the end of the year. Students reported that the collaborative research experience had a positive effect on their basic research, reading, writing, and critical thinking skills, and it empowered them to work in groups on a project. They had not been exposed to this experience at high school.
Keywords: collaborative research experience; empowerment; learning-by-doing; post-matric students; social justice