Entering the final year in the university is always an exciting feeling for undergraduates. They just can’t wait to write their degree examinations and defend their project works. In the center of this excitement, one thought weighs them down. It’s RESEARCH.
The course “Research Methodology” is an important and excited course where undergraduates are expected to learn and understand the process of collection, presentation, analysis and interpretation of data for the purpose of describing vividly existing conditions, prevailing practical beliefs, attitudes, on-going processes etc.
Unfortunately, most undergraduates see research as an uphill task and devise many strategies to maneuver it. Such as:
Operation Copy and Paste
This is one act prevalent in most tertiary institutions in Nigeria. This involves searching for past works and copying them verbatim with little or no modifications. Such works can be found in the university libraries or from friends and relatives who conducted the studies.
Most students resort to researchers for project writings and other related services. The researcher fixes his/her fees and if the deal is struck, he/she writes, type and print the project for the students. At the end of the day, such students pick up the work and summit for defense.
Perhaps they may or may not defend their project well, but one thing is sure; acquisitions of certificates while the researcher smiles to the bank.
Goodness! It’s an information communication and technology world where almost everything can be obtained online. Most students surf the net to search and purchase project reports. Fortunately for them, there are thousands of bloggers and researchers who are praying for clients like them.
Most students who utilized this platform feel they have used one stone to kill thousands of birds. But on the contrary, they are killing their brains’ capacity in one million ways.
Using one stone to kill thousands of birds, in the sense that online project materials are cheap ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 Naira. Second, they either do not worry about the typing cost or stress themselves typing the work in their systems, since it a typed and well packaged work.
On the contrary, they are killing their brains’ capacity to brainstorm and enhance their creative, critical and innovative skills.
It is as a result of these anomalies that most lecturers in tertiary institutions have adopted strategies to compel students to carry out research with little or no assistance.
First, lecturers restructure almost every proposed research topics submitted by their students. This is done in order to render useless any project work the students have in mind to do the usual ‘copy and paste’.
Second, some lecturers request for 10 to 20 copies of current academic research journals related to the students projects’ topics. This is done to encourage students to surf the internet and be familiar with scholars’ works related to the students’ area of study.
Third, some lecturers mandate students to submit their projects in handwritten form. It’s funny bah? Or do you think its wickedness? Haha, maybe it is, maybe it’s not. But it is done to make students to read their projects word for word, especially when lecturers are suspicious of students’ copy and paste syndrome.
Lecturers that is hell-bent on this strategy believe that ‘shebi you wan copy and paste, atleast you go suffer copy every every come give me ’.
Fourth, some lecturers request copies of the filled questionnaire from students as evident they truly went to the field. This strategy is geared towards ensuring that students went to the area of study and administered the questionnaire to the target respondents.
Fifth, students are requested to explain how they analyzed their data at the lecturers’ office, to ascertain if they actually carried it out or it was done by research consultants. The lecturers are of the view that; even though someone helped a student with the data analysis, the student should, atleast have a little idea on how it was analyzed as well as the interpretation of results.
Surprisingly, despite these strategies that look like effective checks and balances, trust students nah, they are having a filled day engaging in copy and paste.
“After all, there are many ways to kill a rat”
After giving this a thorough thought, I came to a conclusion that the root cause of most students’ inability to effectively carryout research is the poor curriculum duration of research method in tertiary institutions.
It is shocking to know that an important course like “Research Method” is a one semester course in most tertiary institutions. A course of this nature with five chapter outlines shouldn’t be a one semester showdown.
Example, lecturing students on how to; identify, frame and choose researchable project topics; write statement of the problem; show research objectives are related to research questions, hypotheses and literature review; review related literature to identify gap in literature; conduct statistical analysis with SPSS, Minitab, Eview etc. and interpret results.
With the limited time allotted to course-works in tertiary institutions, research lecturers find it difficult to cover the course outlines in research method.
As a result, research is thought like every other course without ample time for students to practice what they learnt theoretically. Hence, when they come face to face with the reality, they do all it takes to maneuver it.
The National University Commission and tertiary institutions should modify the curriculum duration of research method and make it a three semester course. This is vital in order to allow lecturers ample time to effectively educate students on research and enhance their capacity to acquire innovative, creative, critical and problem solving skills.
If the general goal of tertiary institutions is teaching and research, then what’s this fuss about research among undergraduates?
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