The purpose of this course is to give you a foundation in research methods specifically for management studies. This module is only the first of two. In this module you will work online, self-guided, using lessons and exercises to get an overview of relevant research methods. In the following term, a second module will be taught to specifically prepare you for your master thesis.
Content is listed in the course schema (Fig. 1). Especially for quantitative and qualitative methods of research, only a subset is presented. We must restrict ourselves to providing entry information to deeper studying of specific methods, which you will have to choose in connection with your thesis topic anyways.
The table in Fig. 2 gives a breakdown of the different course components, the recording medium and the platform used. See Fig. 3 for course infrastructure components and Fig. 4 for the learning process embedded in the course.
You can access all the material via the course home and via the HWR Moodle course which means that you have to handle two platforms (if you want to pass the course) or one platform (if you only wish to look at the material and work through the quizzes).
During the beta phase of the official course duration you will have access to a lecturer through the (Moodle) forum to clarify content issues, requirements and to iron out possible issues with the material. For technical difficulties and mishaps there will be a help line (email/phone) and (during beta) a weekly chat.
Learning using the materials only is self-paced but if you wish to pass the course (e.g. as part of a Master program at Berlin School of Economics and Law), you must submit short written exercises and participate in the peer review process. This process consists of anonymous review of a given number of submissions from your peers and a self-evaluation.
All other learning takes place as, when and how you wish using the different online channels (see Fig. 2) available.
Some of the material is made available only for each lesson. At the end of the course, the material will be available for another a few months until you are well into writing your thesis.
We will employ different platforms (see Fig. 1) for different aims though at this point not all final decisions have been made. Wikiversity and Moodle will surely be the central platforms for instruction & interaction.
How to begin
You should always begin how you mean to continue. The secret of successful distance-learning from the point of view of the learner is to establish a routine aligned with real life. As a rule, you should overestimate the time necessary to view & understand the material and complete the tasks. We estimate about 2-4 hrs / week workload for this course. This means for you:
If you've already got experience and foundation knowledge in research methods, e.g. if your Bachelor thesis relied heavily on research methods or if you've written many scientific term papers (and done well), you should be fine with 2 hours per week.
If your grasp on research methods is rather tenuous, and you found it rather difficult during your thesis or comparable, substantial pieces of work (scientific essay or report) then you will need 4 hours per week to complete the course.
How to continue
When you hit your stride (usually after 2 to 3 weeks), simply continue to the end. If you find that you have difficulty establishing a study routine with the material, ask other students first: perhaps they know a trick that you can copy or a behavior that you can imitate. Or it may be that we've made a mistake (if you think that's the case: contact us). Or online learning simply is not for you — in which case we hope that you'll manage all right anyways. And who knows: if you give it a spin, perhaps you find you like it more than you think!
How to finish
You finish the course best by passing it. You pass with at least 50% of the available points. 80% or more gives you a distinction. Less than 50% means that you have to enter an oral exam. Passing the course is required to enter the subsequent taught course on research methods.
How to improve this course
Your feedback is needed and always welcome: this course is an add-on, targeting Master students across different programs of the school. It can only improve if you help us improve it! We'd also like to hear from you if you wish to contribute to the course (through an audio interview, a source or the like). Or you can just correct (small) mistakes that you might come across. You find our contact data below at the bottom of every page.
This is only a selection of the books I picked up in our local library or that were recommended to me by colleagues (Thomas, 2004; Recker, 2013). Most of the material is canonical, at least at the beginner's stage. I enjoyed the book by Recker for its brevity and the book by Thomas for its focus on management studies. If you're not at HWR Berlin, your library will have these books or others like them. Make sure you have at least one of these by your side throughout the course, especially if you're hungry for more case studies and examples. This basic course for beginners does not replace a good book!
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