Integrating research in school education/curriculum


Sukhvinder Multani
ISC Coordinator and Section Head (Senior Secondary),Avalon Heights International School, Mumbai.

Teaching young minds about research is vital if we want to encourage them to evaluate evidence so that they make informed decisions. Let’s see how.

The term ‘Research’ sets a premise that it is a study applicable to higher education alone. In the present scenario, school education is going through transformation in terms of exploring myriad aspects. Research in this context is being understood as an integral part of school curriculum. The need for integrating research in school curriculum is a welcome change, however, the expertise to impart these skills in schools matter the most. Not many schools are equipped with resources congenial for facilitating research. Besides, there is a need of faculty who have the required skills and expertise to impart these skills in students, thereby making teaching–learning a unique experience. Teaching young minds about research is vital if we want to encourage them to evaluate evidence so that they make informed decisions.

Defining Research

Research is a systematic process of collecting and analyzing information to increase understanding of the phenomenon under study.

It is time schools recognize the significance of research and are prepared with resources to integrate it in the curricula. The moment children show evidence of questioning in their daily learning, the time is considered ripe for them to get involved in research and explore wide range of research techniques.

Finding answers to questions does involve research using books, media resources available, interacting with others to complete an individual project, home assignment or a task leading to investigation. This type of research is content driven and finding facts, however, filtering the content, using the right kind of resources and optimum utility of the information to sync with the given project/assignment needs to be taught, in the absence of which the student may tend to engage in the following:

  1. Wastage of time
  2. Collecting information, data which is not relevant.
  3. Browsing online resources which are inappropriate.
  4. Confusion in designing assignments and projects.

Children are also unclear about areas where research can be applied in future.

What does Research entail?

A wide variety of research tasks across subjects has specified that research can be conducted in different ways such as conducting field trips, survey, preparing questionnaires for interviews and working in the libraries to collect data/information.

It has become essential to make students practically understand the concepts learnt by way of giving them assignments and projects which apply surveys and sampling methods. This is not only a method away from classroom teaching but will also inculcate interest in students in terms of completely getting involved as the learning is not restricted to classroom. This widens the learning of any student who is unable to comprehend concepts in a usual way of learning in the classroom with chalk board method. Students can also learn to prepare questionnaire pertaining to a topic or concept and they can be encouraged to collect information and data by visiting libraries.

Research using internet

Internet, these days, has become the first source of information to students and they depend on this source largely. However, they need to be informed about the right sites to visit as there is no dearth of information available on the internet. Besides, there is information which is not appropriate. While doing research on the internet, the student needs to keep in mind the following aspects:

  • Usage of right terminology or keywords. This will help them to type right words in the search engines. In this regard, the teacher can guide them how to use keywords in the search engines.
  • Identifying and using search engines. Children should be encouraged to use more than one search engines than sticking to just one so that they can compare and contrast information and use what is best for them.
  • Assessment of reliable and unreliable sources. Giving them information that not all the sources on the internet is reliable is very important. Also, it is important to help children to decide about the reliability of a website.

Integrating research with teaching learning and training educators to impart these skills in students is no doubt a challenge at the moment which most schools have recognized. Across educational boards and curriculum, the need for subject enrichment activities and projects has been given significance in evaluation and assessment of subject specific knowledge of students by schools. This kind of evaluation also requires students to be at their creative best in terms of initiating and completing these activities. The role of research when integrated with these activities definitely adds value and enriches the students in three ways viz knowledge acquisition, deeper level of understanding of the knowledge with a unique way of application and the output in terms of understanding each aspect of the knowledge and thereby deriving inferences.

The subject enrichment activities and projects in almost all the scholastic subjects when synthesized with research will bear fruits and will also set base for students about its significance and role in higher education. Student’s familiarity with research will equip them for pursuing future research assignments at higher educational levels.

Besides, students will also learn and develop skills viz. writing a proposal, information gathering, information collating and referencing, analysis of information and data, drawing inferences and categorizing sources. Research skills will also encourage students towards writing research papers, publishing papers in journals/magazines and paper presentations in conferences and seminars.

Research skills also lead to development of cognitive and other skills in students such as:

  • Searching skills (secondary search)
  • Preparing hypothesis/arguments
  • Knowledge of research methodologies and their application
  • Knowledge of various data collection methods
  • Ability to analyze data
  • Draw inferences

Ways to develop learner’s research skills

The educator can take initiative and adhere to the following in order to develop learner’s research skills:

  • Encourage students to frame their own research questions which must certainly link to learning outcomes.
  • Discuss with children the different research frameworks across disciplines such as scientific method of research, historical method etc.
  • To emphasize that research is a systematic enquiry and does not provide any personal opinions.
  • Make them aware that research is relevant to diverse areas and is done by many professionals.

Subject beneficiaries

Research skills are applicable to almost all the subjects including languages. Therefore, there is an urgent need to integrate research skills with school curriculum which can happen through the following:

  • A change in pedagogy to inculcate research skills.
  • To revisit assessment criteria for evaluating research components.
  • To bring in and encourage more inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary research.

It is evident enough that when students were given better research experiences and orientation, they are better prepared for their future work. Research also enhances writing skills in students which is applicable in almost all the areas.

Sukhvinder Multani is an educationist and researcher. She has completed her Masters and M.Phil. with Political Science, her main area of interest. She has been in academics for over 20 years. Besides, she has taught at undergraduate and graduate levels. She has also been instrumental in designing curriculum for Under graduate and Law Courses of ICFAI University. She is a prolific Case Writer and has written case studies on International Affairs, International Trade and Business. Her Case studies have been published in the European Case Clearing House (ECCH), London, which is the largest repository of case studies. As researcher, she has edited and published books on diverse domains. She has also briefly worked with NGOs and currently she is associated with school education.Her other areas of interest include Defense and Strategic Studies, Women Studies and International Affairs.

Currently, she is ISC Coordinator and Section Head (Senior Secondary),Avalon Heights International School, Vashi, Navi Mumbai.