The importance of research
The way in which we are best taught new information varies from person to person. Every teacher has a different teaching style, and every student has a different learning style. There are seven main learning styles that you may be aware of:
- Visual (spatial): You prefer using pictures and images.
- Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using music and sounds.
- Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words (speaking and/or writing).
- Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your hands and body.
- Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic and reasoning.
- Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
- Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.
Take a moment to think about how you learn or teach best. What is your preferred style?
Traditionally, schools favoured a repetitive, logical teaching approach, where students were expected to passively learn facts and recite them out of context. Nowadays however, schools accept that for students to thrive in the modern world, they need a mixture of both fundamental skills such as reading, writing and maths, and 21st century ‘life’ skills, such as problem solving, teamwork and researching.
For centuries, research has been used to expand knowledge and discover new and exciting theories, technologies and innovations. Take Isaac Newton (1643–1727) whose three laws of motion form the basis of classical mechanics. Or, Marie Curie (1867-1934) who directed the world’s first study into the treatment of neoplasms, using radioactive isotopes and who founded the ‘Curie Institutes’ in Paris and in Warsaw, which remain major centres of medical research today. Then there’s Albert Einstein (1879–1955), who used his research to develop the general theory of relativity, one of the two foundations of modern physics.
Research has helped form some of the most important parts of our lives and our survival that we take for granted, particularly in medical fields. While Curie and Einstein were recognized for their geniuses by being awarded Nobel prizes, research is not necessarily undertaken with the sole purpose of finding fame or fortune. A great quote from the famous Stephen Hawking goes:
“No one undertakes research in physics with the intention of winning a prize. It is the joy of discovering something no one knew before.”
The joy of discovering something new is something that most of us can relate to. Research can be seen as a tedious activity by some students, and often, this is because they assume it has to be done by reading a book or sifting through websites like Wikipedia. But there are no limits when it comes to carrying out research.
As part of the Computing curriculum, schools are being tasked with promoting ‘digital creativity’ alongside the more technical programming activities. A large part of being creative is researching different methods and ideas, and then playing around with things to see what works. Finding a new discovery is something that can improve motivation for a subject. Research leads to an expansion of knowledge and discoveries, and on the whole, is a great basis to have. Every good project starts with research. As a creative, research is undertaken to look for, and gather, inspiration. Students with curiosity and initiative often make great researchers.
Often, the internet presents the ideal platform for students to carry out research. However, we shouldn’t limit it to just there. Computing classes do not necessarily mean that children have to sit on a computer all lesson. Why not encourage students to get out and about around the school to gather some inspirational research! Some ideas are:
- Taking photographs (which can be edited and used to form a creative collage, perfect for a brainstorming session)
- Recording videos (which can be used as ‘tester’ material to try out special effects)
- Drawing sketches (which can be used a basis for Quickshapes and freehand drawing)
With this creative (and fun!) approach to learning, most children will subconsciously make the movement from simply having fun to becoming engaged with learning.