Exploring research methodologies

Before we begin our journey into the field of research, we must take time to understand the playing field and put everything in context. You are all entering into this program from different perspectives and levels of expectations which are rooted in what you “know” about this course. The purpose of this module is that we all have a firm understanding of what we will be studying in the hope of setting clear expectations.

We will also be covering fundamental concepts that will be needed in your studies and you will understand the learning methodology that you are expected to follow as you make your way through the course. You will be keeping a journal of your adventures, which will be useful when we complete our “Literature Review”. This module will be setting the stage for our studies throughout the year.

This module represents the meat of the course and will be where groups spend most of their time learning how researchers approach a problem and conduct studies into techniques they can apply towards a solution. With the faculty at Caltech acting as mentors to our groups, students will be taking the lead from top researchers in their respective fields as they and go through the process that all post-undergraduate students are all too familiar with.

Leveraging the resources of one of the top research universities in the world, students will be given the tools to take part in the iterative process of research in the hope that through the course of the year they will be imparted with perspective and appreciation for the academic arts.

At the end of our journey, students have actively pursued research in an area of personal interest. They have kept a journal of their meandering path of newly learned concepts and vocabulary. They have transcribed a narrative of the application of those techniques towards the problem at hand. Lastly, they have studied the core components of a dissertation document and taken a look at how the research process is formally presented to the public.

Now is the time to use this framework to focus, organize, and compile a summative report of their exploration through the year. In addition to a summative report, teams will also be creating a Powerpoint document that will be used during the end of year presentation.