Teaching Research Processes: The Faculty Role in the Development of Skilled Researchers. By William B. Badke. Cambridge, U.K.: Chandos, 2012. 222 pages. ISBN 978-1-84334-674-6. $71.48.
Article first published online: 1 JAN 2014
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Teaching Theology & Religion
Volume 17, Issue 1, pages 87–88, January 2014
How to Cite
Shaffett, J. E. (2014), Teaching Research Processes: The Faculty Role in the Development of Skilled Researchers. By William B. Badke. Cambridge, U.K.: Chandos, 2012. 222 pages. ISBN 978-1-84334-674-6. $71.48. Teaching Theology & Religion, 17: 87–88. doi: 10.1111/teth.12169
- Issue published online: 1 JAN 2014
- Article first published online: 1 JAN 2014
After finishing a Master of Library Science degree and starting a dual appointment as Associate Professor and Librarian at a theological school, William Badke came to the conclusion that students do not know how to do research. His next discovery was that he and his fellow professors were doing very little to teach them how to do research. Twenty-five years later, the author is still convinced that college students do not know how to do research and professors are doing very little to teach them how to do research. Badke believes teaching students the process of research must be required if the students are going to be properly educated. He explains the process of research: “Identify a problem, determine the information needed to solve that problem, acquire that information skillfully, sift through and evaluate what has been found, then use that information critically to address the problem” (xii). Badke contends that a student is not educated if she cannot perform these tasks.
Badke has taught information literacy to undergraduate and graduate students for over twenty-five years, written articles on information literacy, and is the author of a very popular textbook about information literacy: Research Strategies: Finding Your Way Through the Information Fog, now in its fourth edition.
In chapter one of Teaching Research Processes Badke claims, “Research processes represent the procedural side of the academic disciplines” (24). Because the professor requests a product from the student without teaching the research process for producing this product, Badke believes these processes must be taught to the student. In chapter two he uses different studies to show that students are ill-equipped to do research. For example, a study of junior and senior undergraduates by Alison Head shows that these students struggle with research. Head notes, “Most students are baffled by college level research, especially when they just begin the process and define their information needs” (39). In addition, they struggle with accessing and evaluating quality resources. They are “overwhelmed by the plethora of available resources” (39) and have trouble with all the different steps of the research process.
Badke shows that teaching research processes has not been a priority in higher education, and he gives reasons why this is the case. In chapter four he provides examples of ways in which schools are trying to teach research processes including: ACRL standards for Information Literacy, one-shot sessions by librarians, “credit-based courses,” and teaching information literacy across the curriculum.
The first four chapters cover teaching research processes generally. Starting with chapter five the emphasis shifts to teaching research processes within the disciplines and disciplinary thinking. Badke argues that the best way to do this is by “having students begin to do (author's emphasis) higher educational disciplines, rather than acquiring just what constitutes a discipline's knowledge base” (93). The idea is that faculty must teach students how to practice the discipline. In chapter six Badke argues that the professor's role is not only to provide information, but “to guide students, to help them navigate through the subject matter, especially through the problem-solving and critical thinking skills that make the discipline work” (124–5). In chapter eight the author provides suggestions on teaching research processes in the classroom. The first suggestion is to use autobiography in the classroom. Second, “teach through the literature of the discipline” (165). For example, in history, the professor could use primary sources to teach the subject. In the social sciences and sciences faculty can use literature reviews to teach the research process. A third suggestion is to use “guided, modular assignments” (166). The professor could break up the research process into multiple parts. Last, teachers can involve students in their own research.
Badke provides a compelling argument that students do not know how to do research and that faculty are not addressing the problem. He shows that librarians and faculty can work together to teach the process of research to students. Until professors see the need for teaching research processes, students will continue to fumble their way through them. Teaching Research Processes could be a helpful resource for a faculty retreat or a conversation starter.