WVPU Research Methods Roadmap
Effective: May 15, 2018, Updated: April 2, 2019
WVPU prides itself in preparing its students to engage in incrementally rigorous scholarly research activity commensurate with their level of study. Specifically, this means that students need to learn about the importance of positing research questions, constructing research designs, distinguishing among methodological approaches, and then choosing appropriate qualitative and quantitative methods to address the research question and design, applying them with increasing frequency and depth culminating in a final bachelor thesis. This is additionally important because WVPU obliges its faculty, whether employed or adjunct, to incorporate substantial research-based writing assignments in their syllabi and assess accordingly.
In order to support student growth in the area of research and writing, WVPU requires all of its undergraduate students to take a series of at least four methods related courses over the span of their first six semesters with the option to take more advanced method or tool specific courses as they progress toward their thesis project. These include:
1. FRSH 1200 - First Year Seminar;
2. STAT 1100 Descriptive Statistics (STAT 1100) or MATH 1430 - College Algebra;
3. ANSO 2750/SOCI 2750/PSYC 2750 - Introduction to Measurement and Statistics or BUSN 2750 - Introduction to Statistics;
4. Program-specific methodology course: BUSN 2825 - Introduction to Research Design and Methods (As of summer 2019) or
INTL 2700 - Methods of Political Inquiry or
MEDC 3190 - Introduction to Media Research or
PSYC 2825 - Introduction to Research Methods
Together, these four classes sum up to 22-24 ECTS depending on the discipline. Aptly named the WVPU Research Methods Roadmap, or Methods Roadmap for short, the program serves students in every program, building the fundamental expertise necessary to produce research papers and assignments in all other classes throughout the curricula.
The core of the Methods Roadmap consists of three universally required courses and one discipline specific methods course. In the First Year Seminar (FRSH 1200), taken immediately upon entry into the university (first semester), students learn about the importance of the research question as basis upon which to launch any scholarly inquiry. The First Year Seminar is unique in that while its topic areas vary, students are exposed to social and scientific issues and are asked to formulate research questions about the phenomena they are examining and thus marks the first foray into intellectual inquiry that sets the tone for the rest of their studies.
The second course in the Methods Roadmap sequence is Descriptive Statistics (STAT 1100) in which students learn the fundamentals of statistics, probability, data handling, etc. thus guaranteeing that all WVPU students are literate in basic quantitative approaches. This course will traditionally be taken in the second or third semester. Both of these first two courses cover key areas of the university’s Global Citizenship Program thereby guaranteeing that key components of the liberal arts centered approach at WVPU affirmatively supports and is directly related to their program of study. Students studying in Business and Management related programs may alternatively take College Algebra (MATH 1430). Either of these two courses (STAT 1100 or MATH 1430) serve as a prerequisite to the next level in the Methods Roadmap.
The third course in the sequence, optimally taken in the third or fourth semester is what WVPU calls the 2750 series. The 2750 series consists of any one of three courses in the areas of Anthropology/Sociology (ANSO 2750, SOCI 2750) and Psychology (PSYC 2750), which are both titled 'Introduction to Measurement and Statistics' or BUSN 2750, which is titled 'Introduction to Statistics'. Although the naming conventions differ among the 2750 courses, the content remains consistent across disciplines and instructors are rotated among professors from different departments. In order to guarantee uniformity in knowledge transfer, these courses are cross-listed, i.e. one professor teaches the course, but students can sign up under different coding according to their degree program. This third level requirement closes the loop on bringing all students to an equitable understanding basic academic research methods, guarantees that every student is ready to begin learning the prevailing methods used in their field of study, and allows them and their faculty to turn their focus to the fourth domain specific course in the sequence.
The fourth course in the sequence, optimally taken between the third or fourth semester, is discipline specific with Introduction to Media Research (MEDC 3190) required by Strategic Communication and Media Communications, Methods of Political Inquiry (INTL 2700) for International Relations, Introduction to Research Methods (PSYC 2825) for Psychology, and Introduction to Research Design and Methods (BUSN 2825) for the Business and Management programs. These courses are designed to build upon an already strong foundation in research design and quantitative approaches to answer well reflected research questions. Hence, by the beginning of their junior (third) year and armed with the added value of having that foundation behind them, students can begin focusing their in-class research and writing assignments on the topics and approaches prevalent in their fields enhancing their performance and raising the standard of their output and the level of assessment throughout the remainder of their studies.