Open Educational Practices (OEP) for Research Skill Development in an Online Graduate Program

In this presentation, we will describe results from a design-based study showing how graduate students enrolled in a course-based Master’s program developed research based skills as a result of participating and engaging in a program designed and delivered using open educational practices (OEP). The program was designed to reflect the principles of OEP, which were understood as “collaborative and pedagogical practices that involve the creation, use, and reuse of OER as well as participatory technologies and social networks to interact, learn, create knowledge, and empower learners” (Cronin, 2017). Willison and O’Regan’s (2006/2019) six facets for research skill development were used as a framework to align the desired skills for graduate students with the assignments in the program. The program was designed to support each learner to be an active agent who builds knowledge within the learning process rather than a passive recipient of knowledge. Some argue that when people recognize that open knowledge can be enriched by individual academic experience, they will feel more motivated to know and participate not just as an audience member but as a protagonist (Jordan et al., 2017). As protagonists of their learning, graduate students can become producers instead of consumers of knowledge (Schwartz & Fischer, 2003). In addition, Scardamalia and Bereiter’s (2010) knowledge building in community helps to describe the connections between social interactions, access to resources (content and people), and the participatory and collaborative learning opportunities that develop research skills with OEP. The following research question guided the study: How do open educational practices support the conditions for student learning of research-based skills? Interview and survey data gathered from participants (n = 13) provided evidence that the use of OEP created the conditions for graduate students’ research-based skill development. These students demonstrated how they developed research skills through layered assignments and multiple rounds of peer review, edits, and revisions of their work. Students also engaged in self-reflection and idea-sharing using collaborative online spaces and social media. We identified three key conditions that supported students with their learning, development, and continual improvement of research-based skills: (a) design of layered assignments, (b) formative feedback, and (c) peer learning. Each condition encouraged graduate students to become co-designers of their learning as they developed research skills; this meant having the agency to pursue a topic of personal and professional interest, seek feedback and insights from within and outside the boundaries of their course, and develop an appreciation for the social process of knowledge-building alongside their peers. Students were asked to focus less on content and learning via knowledge borrowing, and more on learning in collaboration with peers, course instructors, and external experts through knowledge building (Schwartz & Fischer, 2003). Using examples from the research study, this presentation will inform participants about how to create high quality, online learning experiences and design conditions that support graduate students in research skill development in post-secondary programs using OEP.
Open Education, Graduate Program, Research Skills
Roberts, V., Brown, B., Jacobsen, M., Hurrell, C., Neutzling, N., & Travers-Hayward, M. (2023, April 5). Open educational practices (OEP) for research skill development in an online graduate program [Conference session]. OER23 Conference, Inverness, Scotland.