Thoughts and Reflections on my Research Methods class

I would first like to start out by saying that this class was so much more than what I expected. To be honest with you, I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I when I had taken my research methods class as an undergraduate,  we did not really go into great deal of research methods. It was because of this that I was not sure if I would be able to keep up. I knew what I was hoping for as far as my goals were concerned, with the end goal being to earn an MA degree in history. I wanted to meet like-minded individuals, who wanted to work in the field of history, especially in the museum field. I also wanted to find out more about the actual museum field, the theory and practices, and how to garner knowledge to get a job working within a museum setting in a curator, or museum educational director type job.

Overall the readings were very helpful, except that some were very dense and heavy, which caused me great consternation and worry. I enjoyed the discussion format of the course, as it was was extremely helpful and I was able to incorporate a lot of ideas into my “toolbox” of ideas, however, some of the theory was something that I couldn’t really wrap my head around.

I enjoyed the way that the topics of discussion each week built upon the previous one and the variety of subject matter gave me a real feel for the intentions for the class. I feel that with all that I have learned in the class; this will be extremely helpful in my chosen career path and that the ideas and theories set forth in the class were meant to allow me to think about things in a different light. The chosen readings, were for the most part very enlightening (even if I had to read through them numerous times) and made me definitely want to know more.

I also enjoyed the various topics from everyone’s personal research, especially the ones which included the video and music portions, which were, in my opinion very helpful to help to grasp the key concepts intended for the class. The opportunity to choose our own topics and build upon those was also an aspect of the class that helped me focus on using the lessons learned in the class sessions to improve my thinking skills.

As I mentioned previously, I was a little unsure of what to expect from the class at first, I just knew that I had to take this class and it sounded kind of interesting as well. I did learn quite a bit as a historian and I know that the skills learned will help me become a better researcher, a better writer, and the critical thinking skills I have learned, I will be able to look at different topics in history in a much different light. I have come to realize more so than  before, that everything is not black and white when it comes to history and analyzing history. There are any number of shades of gray involved.

If I had to find anything wrong with the course, I would like to have focused more on the practical side of history, like museums or education and less on the theories, some of which seemed outdated and very dense, some feeling almost TOO scholarly. What I mean by this, is that some of the theories that we discussed  definitely seemed like the writers were trying too hard at sounding scholarly and that they were focusing on an already scholarly audience, not for students studying an MA degree. What I mean by this, is that we seemingly skirted around this topic all semester, I just would like to have seen more in regards to the actual day to day, hands on aspect of the education field, or the museum field as opposed to the theoretical side so much.

In conclusion, I would just like to say thank you and I really appreciate everything I learned so much more from the course than I expected. I do firmly believe that my research skills, my critical thinking skills, my reading and writing skills have all improved since I started this course. I do look forward to moving towards the end of the degree, so that I can take the skills learned and polished in this course, out into the career path of my choosing and make a difference as a historian.

4 thoughts on “Thoughts and Reflections on my Research Methods class”

  1. Hi Tiny,
    I’m a little confused about which course you are talking about or if you are talking about the entire first year experience. If it’s Research Methods, I’d really like to hear more about what you considered theory, what might be eliminated, where other topics might be added? If you mean the overall experience, then I guess you mean Historical Methods? To make any changes to these required courses or other, I think we need a bit of clarification. When you have time.

  2. Hi Tiny: What a year! Since we have similar goals, I thought I’d share my perceptions with you about our coursework. I, too, have enjoyed and appreciate all that I have learned over the last several months. Sometimes it was frustrating because it wasn’t as hands-on as I would have liked, but I realize that is just because it is was I’m used to. But, I didn’t come here to just reinforce what I already know–I came here to learn! That’s how I approached all of our readings, as opportunities to learn something new and to add to my experiences. I think it’s especially important for museum professionals to have a strong background in history and historical methods, since they are the ones interacting with the public on a daily basis. I’m sure you’d agree that our classes have definitely helped to teach us more about this, and have given us new and important skills to employ in public history. 🙂

  3. Tiny,

    It’s good to hear how you have grown as a historian this past year. The second draft of your proposal is a testament to that! After reading your post and learning about your thesis project, I’m interested to see what direction you take in the future…will you continue to be a public historian or become more of a traditional historian in the classroom or a department? Regardless of what path you choose, good luck!

    Laura

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