Monday, 1 August 2016

Summer Research Scholarships: Earn and Learn at the University of Waikato

I'm thrilled that a project I want to undertake has been approved for summer research scholarship funding. This means the university will pay a student to help me with my research project this summer! I feel compelled to write a blog post in order to help make students aware of the benefits of a summer scholarship, and to spread the word about my project so that it attracts some suitable applicants.

Each year, researchers from our university submit projects for summer scholarship funding, hoping to employ a student as a research assistant for ten weeks of full time work between November and February. In return the students who are employed receive $5000 tax free and learn a few research skills in the process.

Last year, I received funding for a project I was working on related to social media in tertiary teaching and learning. The summer scholar worked on a literature review related to this topic, learning how to search effectively using electronic library resources, and how to construct a Zotero group library full of annotated references. For the student (a marketing/management major), the work was flexible, mostly completed online, and an opportunity to learn about new searching tools and techniques, as well as to investigate an interesting subject area. The payment was a significant boost to a recent graduate, and the learning (attending sessions with library staff, and researching the topic) was a fun aspect too. In this win-win situation, I had the opportunity to learn and work alongside the summer scholar, and the annotated bibliography produced continues to be a useful resource in my research and writing.

This year, my project is about blended learning at Waikato, and I plan to investigate the instances of blended learning (see this previous post) that are happening in various faculties within our institution. As part of the data gathering process, I want to conduct video interviews with lecturers (or other university teachers) who are integrating aspects of online and on campus teaching and learning as part of their courses, across a range of disciplines. With appropriate ethics approval (of course), I am also hoping to talk with students taking the courses, to hear their views about the pros and cons of blended learning in our tertiary context, the varieties/forms it takes, and what enables and constrains the learning in a blended format. The intended outcome will be a series of small case studies, comprised of short video clips, and accompanying text. The project is #17 in this full project list.

To assist with this case study research, I am looking for a research assistant who is interested in video interviewing. The suitable candidate might be finishing their second or third year of undergraduate study, or could be a masters student taking taught papers, in any discipline at any university in NZ or Australia. The full regulations for the scholarship are here.

Could this be you or someone you know? One of your students? One of your peers?

The summer scholar for the BlendedLearning@Waikato project will be:
- eager to learn about interviewing as a method, and to have a go at interviewing with me at first, then independently
- confident with a video camera or willing to learn
- available to work in Hamilton during the summer period (with holidays in the middle encouraged)

I am interested in hearing from potential candidates, who then need to apply to the scholarships office by 31 August.

In summary, the summer research scholarship is a mutually beneficial opportunity for me to work with a research assistant to progress my project,  while the scholar learns and earns at the same time!

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