6.1 Research skills

The advantage of grounding the research project in a learning taxonomy (such as Hansen’s proficiencies) is that it explicitly identifies the research skills we want our students to develop. Consider, for example, a research project that is designed so that students create new knowledge. This requires that students use their research skills to understand a body of literature, choose a topic and then develop an effective economic research question. The summative part of the evaluation process would include a measure of the students’ success in demonstrating that they have a command of the foundational knowledge that supports such a question and the extent to which they could justify it in terms of the components – problem-oriented, analytical, interesting and significant, amenable to economic analysis and feasible (Greenlaw, 2006: 14–18 ) –  required for the question to be effective. But it is also critical at this juncture to provide constructive feedback (formative evaluation) to the student as they simply cannot continue until their research question is viable. Similar arguments can be made for other research skills that would be expected of a student for a project that is intended to have them create new knowledge including: locating key literature relating to this question, properly identifying an area of contribution, developing economic evidence in support of their hypothesis, and contextualising the results of their work.