Data-Driven Approach to Teaching Research Methods: iMethod, a Proof-of-Concept


  • Ben Daniel University of Otago



Courses in research methods play a critical role in postgraduate education. However, postgraduate students face considerable challenges in learning the subject matter. The present paper introduces iMethod, a software application designed to track students' engagement with the content of research methods courses. iMethod harvested data, analysed students' engagement, and presented the outcome to a teacher through a dashboard rendered in real-time. As a proof-of-concept, a usability study on iMethod was conducted with a sample of postgraduate students and early career academics (n=37) at a research-intensive university in New Zealand. Key findings suggest that students and academic staff found iMethod a valuable application for enhancing research methods learning. In particular, students value its content for understanding fundamental concepts while valuing its inquiry facilitation and providing helpful information on research methods. Participants said iMethod could expand knowledge, offers guidance, and the content is accessible to a diverse range of students. Lastly, participants reported that iMethod facilitated easy knowledge sharing, and the interface design was user-friendly and intuitive. The paper contributes to the growing need to promote research into the curriculum design of research methodology programmes and the quality of teaching research methods courses.