Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Fostering Competencies in Research through Project-based Learning

R2 Highpoints
Photo: Emma Greengrass/IDS.
The Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS), through the AURA programme, recently conducted the Research 2 (R2) workshop focusing on strengthening the capacity of conducting research among MUHAS academic staff. The R2 workshop was conducted over a six week period from February to March 2016. It adopted project based learning approaches and blended learning approaches which included pre-online, face to face, and post-online learning activities. The teaching modality was participatory, and focused on independent learning, learning from instructors, and peer to peer learning and assessment. Some of the topics were completely new to participants (i.e. social network analysis, mixed methods) while other topics were familiar to faculty, such as topics on comparative and surveys research designs. Given their medical science backgrounds, MUHAS faculty members were not aware of some of the social research methods offered and were able to learn and appreciate these through R2.  They also learnt and appreciated the application of qualitative research approaches, and how they can combine both qualitative and quantitative research approaches in their practice.

Participants were also able to refine their individual research methodology, and gained practical knowledge on how to apply mixed research methods, especially sequential mixed methods. This kind of training was very important and also timely given the fact that MUHAS is currently implementing competency based curricular. Furthermore, participants were able to develop a group proposal, which was multidisciplinary in nature, to compete for funding. Through the group work, participants appreciated the fact that they were able to learn from their colleagues and to share what they knew regarding the topic they were working on. Participants were also able to expand their network of researchers to work with, through the task that of writing proposals as a multidisciplinary group.

In conclusion, the R2 workshop enabled participants to acquire useful skills on how to develop competitive proposals for grant application, various study designs, and to learn the advantages of working in multidisciplinary research groups. Participants also appreciated the teaching methodology and it is expected that they will adopt this modality into their teaching, especially the use of project based learning.

Dr. Doreen Mloka is a Medical Microbiologist/Molecular biologist. She is a Medical Education Fellow and the Director of Continuing Education and Professional Development at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS), Tanzania. She currently coordinates two medical education projects and several microbiology projects.


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