South African Journal of Higher Education

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Teaching research methods in a distance education context: Concerns and challenges

S Schulze


This article discusses an investigation conducted to identify challenges associated with teaching research methods in a distance education context. Constructivist learning was used as conceptual framework, in particular socio-constructivist theories, activity theory and Rich environments for active learning (REALs). Two research modules in a master’s programme in education formed the basis of the investigation. One module required students to complete a portfolio, while the other involved assignments and
an examination. Two cycles of action research were completed over three years. Data were collected by means of questionnaires and an analysis of study packages and other documents. The study revealed a need for improved cooperative support, the introduction of blended learning and the provision of anchored instruction by making more resources available in both modules. In addition, it was shown that the research methodology module would be improved through the provision of authentic learning contexts, opportunities for team research and more authentic assessment practices.
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