Organising, providing and evaluating technical training for early career researchers: A case study

Rachel M. van Besouw, Katrine S. Rogers, Christopher J. Powles, Timos Papadopoulos, Emery M. Ku

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper considers the importance of providing technical training opportunities for Early Career Researchers (ECRs) worldwide through the case study of a MATLAB training programme, which was proposed, organised, managed and evaluated by a team of five ECRs at the University of Southampton. The effectiveness of the programme in terms of the improvement in technical competency and the encouragement of interdisciplinary collaboration between the ECRs receiving this training was evaluated using measures relating to levels 1 (Reaction), 2 (Learning) and 3 (Behaviour) of the Rugby Team Impact Framework evaluation model. Overall reaction to the training course was extremely positive and data from pre- and post-course surveys suggest a positive change in the long-term behaviour of delegates. The ECRs who organised this project gained valuable experience in team working, grant writing, project management and the development of teaching materials. Details of the organisation and evaluation of the course are presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-177
Number of pages11
JournalInnovations in Education and Teaching International
Volume50
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
In a recent bid to improve technical training and networking opportunities for Early Career Researchers (ECRs),2 a group of five ECRs at the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR), University of Southampton, successfully submitted a proposal to the University’s ‘Roberts’ Skills Enhancement Fund to support a MATLAB training programme for ECRs in the Faculty of Engineering, Science and Mathematics.3 This funding was made available to the University by the Research Councils UK in line with the Roberts’ Review recommendations to provide support for the additional skills training of research students and ECRs (Roberts, 2002). Four two-day training sessions were organised. These sessions were delivered by the MathWorks (the developers of MATLAB) over the course of a year to 79 ECRs and Postgraduate Researchers (PGRs). The impact of this training was evaluated and the findings contributed to the report on the ‘Impact of Researcher Training and Development’ published by the Careers Research and Advisory Centre Limited. (Bromley, 2010, p. 55).

Funding Information:
We wish to thank Dr Adrienne James, Senior Application Engineer at The MathWorks Ltd., Cambridge, UK, for her support and encouragement, Prof. Steve Elliott, Dr David Simpson and Dr Ben Lineton from the ISVR who supported the Skills Enhancement Fund application, and Jo James (Graduate School Administrator), Dr Rachel Mills (Faculty Associate Dean) and Dr Julie Reeves (ECR Skills Training Coordinator) for approving the initiative. We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions.

Keywords

  • early career researcher
  • evaluation
  • technical training

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