USING CONCEPTUAL MAPPING TO DEVELOP CONCRETE RESEARCH PROPOSALS: AN ACTION RESEARCH
Objectives: Higher education institutions are in front of a great challenge of how they can equip their postgraduate students with an appropriate collection of foundation skills with which they can start their careers as researchers. This study investigate conceptual mapping as a tool to aid postgraduate students in developing a viable research proposals.
Methods: An action research design was used in this study with baseline and follow-up data. The sample consisted of ten postgraduate students who were studying on a course of four months. The course aimed to provide participants with an in-depth understanding of research methods. At the beginning of the course every student was asked to write a research proposal. They then were given a training session on conceptual mapping. This technique was used throughout the course to develop research proposals. A rubric was used to assess research proposals.
Results: Scores at baseline and at the end of the intervention were compared. All students displayed significantly higher scores at Post-intervention assessment.
Conclusions: Change in scores reflects real change in students' ability to develop concrete research proposals. Conceptual mapping provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the knowledge of their area of study. Mapping out their ideas and identifying key concepts help them to question their own proposals. This practice aid students to reflect on every element of their proposals.