“Getting on the same page”: Negotiation and intellectual collaboration in student research groups
There is a growing interest in what constitutes effective practice in faculty-led research based learning experiences that involve students learning research by doing research. There is a particular need for research-based evidence about the student experience, their intellectual and personal gains, and the learning processes that contribute to those gains. To address these concerns, this qualitative case study investigates the intellectual collaboration—the meaning making practices—in two research groups of faculty and students doing qualitative data analysis. Negotiation is a key aspect of coding and reliability methods that use measures of agreement among multiple coders to ensure rigor. Negotiation means that participants worked through their differences until they reached agreement. The groups were cooperative not competitive but there was a tension between research productivity and learning goals. "Getting on the same page" required getting novice coders up to speed in a short period of time. The lens of negotiation revealed that there was significant producing and learning occurring. Negotiation was both an intentional and emergent training and organizing process. Students learned about how research is done and gained increased confidence in their ability to do and contribute to research. They also negotiated an understanding of norms such as reflexivity and their roles in the group. Such gains indicate the ability to "think like a researcher" and were associated with participation in reliability exercises. These negotiated activities involved multiple perspectives, collaboration with participants of different levels of experience, and tools and processes that provided common objects for negotiations. This study suggests that structuring research and other intellectual collaborations around negotiation processes can contribute to both inclusion and rigor, balancing productivity and learning and goals. These approaches increase the likelihood that students will be productive and learn about research despite the short time frame and complexity of the tasks. These same qualities provide benefits to faculty and establish the value of research based learning experiences as curricular offerings.