What will my research topic be?

So I’ve got my supervisor for my Research project – and she’s amazing. However, now I just need to dig into my topic and work out specifically what I’ll focus on. Sounds simple, but I’ve been circling around this for the last year or so.

The imperative need

We know collaboration skills are an essential skill. This isn’t even debated any more. Every article I’ve read states this as a clear and direct fact in the first few lines. The DET supports this, listing collaboration as one of our core directions. Universities support this, adapting many of their traditional assessments to collaborative learning structures.

My wonderings

Whilst we have this crystal clear message that collaboration is essential, on the ground I see excellent educators who are reluctant to move towards collaborative / team assessments for two reasons. Either a) they don’t feel comfortable managing team dynamics or B) they don’t know how to assess collaboration. Both are completely understandable.

The DET openly states whilst they have the need area, less research has been done on how to implement collaboration within teaching and learning strategies, and how to assess it. The methods of assessment we do have seem to come largely down to self assessment and reflection… something I don’t know that I’m entirely comfortable with. Yes I believe self reflection is important, however, it should be backed with evidence if we’re using it as an assessment tool. Which leads me to wonder if it could be merged with digital portfolios?

Something that has emerged from reading, is the need to individually assess collaboration. I’ve always assessed teamwork as a join team mark, figuring what the team produces is what we mark. However, I’m having a little ah ha moment in that collaboration is a progressive skill just like literacy, and therefore needs to be marked through formative assessment (early, mid and final) with clear and timely feedback. The final mark students receive, yes should be partly on their product, but also an individual mark showing how they personally are progressing with their collaboration skills.

So, at this stage, the research question is looking like it will have something to do with assessing collaboration. The actual how and what the methodology will look like is still anyones guess.