Skip to content

Empirical Studies Using the RSD Framework

Journal articles

    Bugarcic, A., Zimbardi, K., Macaranas, J., & Thorn, P. (2012). An inquiry-based practical for a large, foundation-level undergraduate laboratory that enhances student understanding of basic cellular concepts and scientific experimental design. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 40(3), 174-180. (Undergraduate; biomedical science). The final publication is available from Wiley.

    Feldon, D., Maher, M., Hurst, M., & Timmerman, B. (2015). Faculty mentors’, graduate students’, and performance-based assessments of students’ research skill development. American Educational Research Journal, 52(2), 334–370. (Undergraduate and graduate; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). The final publication is available from Sage.

    Gyuris, E. (2018). Evaluating the effectiveness of postgraduate research skills training and its alignment with the Research Skill Development framework. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 15(4). (Postgraduate; natural sciences). The final publication is available from JUTLP.

    Jacobsen, M., McDermott, M., Brown, B., Eaton, S., & Simmons, M. (2018). Graduate students' research-based learning experiences in an online Master of Education program. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 15(4). (Master's; education). The final publication is available from JUTLP.

    Loveys, B., Kaiser, B., McDonald, G., Kravchuk, O., Gilliham, M., Tyerman, S., & Able, A. (2014). The development of student research skills in second year plant biology. International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education, 22(3), 15-25. (Undergraduate; agricultural sciences, viticulture & oenology).

    Missingham, D., Shah, S., & Sabir, F. (2018). Student engineers optimising problem solving and research skills. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 15(4). (First year; engineering). The final publication is available from JUTLP.

    Pretorius, L., Bailey, C., & Miles, M. (2013). Constructive alignment and the Research Skills Development Framework: Using theory to practically align graduate attributes, learning experiences, and assessment tasks in undergraduate midwifery. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 25(3), 378-387. (Undergraduate; midwifery). The final publication is available from EBSCOhost.

    Torres, L. (2018). Research skills in the first-year biology practical - Are they there? Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 15(4). (First year; biology). The final publication is available from JUTLP.

    Wilkin, C. (2014). Enhancing the AIS curriculum: Integration of a research-led, problem-based learning task. Journal of Accounting Education, 32(2), 185–199. (Postgraduate; accounting information systems). The final publication is available from Elsevier.

    Willison, J. (2012). When academics integrate research skill development in the curriculum. Higher Education Research & Development, 31(6), 905-919. (First year to master's; multidisciplinary). The final publication is available from Taylor & Francis.

    Willison, J., & Buisman-Pijlman, F. (2016). PhD prepared: Research skill development across the undergraduate years. (Undergraduate; health science). The fully open access version is available from Emerald Insight.

    Willison, J., Sabir, F., & Thomas, J. (2016). Shifting dimensions of autonomy in students’ research and employment. Higher Education Research & Development. (Master's; business). The fully open access version is available from Taylor & Francis.

    Wilmore, M., & Willison, J. (2016). Graduates’ attitudes to research skill development in undergraduate media education. Asia Pacific Media Educator, 26(1), 1-16, doi: 10.1177/1326365X16640348. (Undergraduate; media). The final publication is available from Sage.

    Yoshida, A. (2015). Facilitating learning and research engagement of 4th year undergraduate students: The outcomes of student self-assessment survey. Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries (QQML), 4, 871-881. (Undergraduate; nutrition). The final publication is available from QQML.

    return to top

      Conference papers, posters and published reports

      Kempster, C. (2017). Creating a 'thinking routine' by explicitly embedding the Research Skill Development framework into courseworkPoster presented at Australian & New Zealand Association for Health Professional Educators Conference 2017, Adelaide Convention Centre, 11-14 July 2017. (First year; oral health).

      Livingston, C. (2015). Explicit research skill development in pre-service teaching modules in a Bachelor of Education degreePoster presented at the Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa Conference 2017, Durban, 21-24 November 2017. (Undergraduate; education). 

      Munns, S., & Chilton, L. (2014). Demand evidence and think critically: Building research excellence in tomorrow's scientists. Proceedings of the Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education, 134-139. (Undergraduate; biomedical science). The final publication is available from Sydney Open Journals Online.

      Peirce, E., Ricci, M., Lee, I., & Willison, J. (2009). First year Human Biology students in the ivory tower. Paper presented at 2009 National UniServe Science Annual Conference, University of Sydney, 30 September-2 October 2009. Download the PowerPoint slides from this presentation. (Undergraduate; science).

      Willison, J. (2014). Outcomes and uptake of explicit research skill development across degree programs. Prepared for the Office of Learning and Teaching. (Undergraduate; multidisciplinary).

      Willison, J., Peirce, E., & Ricci, M. (2009). Towards student autonomy in literature and field research, in The Student Experience, Proceedings of the 32nd HERDSA Annual Conference, Darwin, 6-9 July 2009: pp 483-491. (First year; human biology).

      Willison, J., Schapper, J., & Teo, E. (2009). Multiple measures of the improvement of research skills in business ethics and business law. Paper presented at QATLHEBEC conference, University of Melbourne, on 6 February 2009. (Master's; business law and business ethics).

      Willison, J., Lievre, K., & Lee, I. (2010). Making research skill development explicit in coursework. Prepared for the Australian Learning & Teaching Council. (Undergraduate to postgraduate; multidisciplinary).

      A History of Gathering Evidence of the Effectiveness of RSD Use

      Kerry O'Regan and I began working on the embryonic versions of the Research Skill Development framework back in 2004. It is no exaggeration to say that we went through 150 iterations before the October 2006 version was published on this RSD website, and then subsequently in Higher Education Research and Development journal. During that timeframe, we were road-testing the RSD with Eleanor Peirce and Mario Ricci of the School of Medical Science, University of Adelaide. The earlier versions were clunky, and caused us some grief when applied to learning and especially assessment, but thanks to great fortitude by Mario and Eleanor, a more finely-tuned product emerged. When Said Al-Sarawi and Brian Ng from Electrical and Electronic Engineering came to see us to discuss their International Master's students' writing problems, they saw that they could readily adapt and apply the RSD to their context.

      Since that time, there have been about 30 disciplines in eight Australian Universities, and in universities in Canada, the South Pacific and the USA, that have adopted the RSD. This, we feel, is not a substantial indication of effectiveness in itself, as there is a tendency internationally to follow the leader until an idea becomes unfashionable. It may be that some popular ideas ultimately lack substance, so sustainment over long time-periods may be a better indication of effectiveness than current popularity.

      We have been able to carry out substantial evaluations of the implementation of RSD in a variety of contexts. Our first grant of $26K was from the University of Adelaide to look at RSD spanning two faculties. This helped the emerging RSD team to obtain what was then the Carrick Institute for Higher Education Grant of $216K, for implementing and Evaluating RSD across 5 universities: University of Adelaide, Macquarie University, University of South Australia, University of Melbourne and Monash University. The detailed report and the resulting article reveal some surprise outcomes of explicit research skill development in a semester-length course:

      1. Students showed educationally and statistically significant improvements in perceptions of research skills associated with question posing, information finding and determining credibility of sources
      2. Interviews with students one year later revealed that the research skills explicitly developed in one semester-length course were pertinent not only in subsequent study, but especially in work environments
      3. Interviews with academics showed that the use of the RSD not only helped them to reframe learning tasks and assessment, but also challenged them to think about their own discipline research in fresh ways.

      If you have questions about the evaluation of RSD implementation, please email John Willison.

      Research Skill Development

      Established October 2006

      School of Education

      6.22, 10 Pulteney Street
      The University of Adelaide
      SA 5005


      Dr John Willison
      T: +61 8 8313 3553

      View a full list of contacts