Writing the Methods Section

In her Expos section, Jerusha Achterberg teaches how to clearly describe the methods that will be used in a subsequent paper.  This activity was motivated by the fact that students were having trouble writing the methods section in their final paper proposals.

In groups, the students are prompted to write as if they are explaining to an audience what to do with a mousetrap, given that they have mice and do not want to have mice anymore. Jerusha gives the students mousetraps with popsicle sticks, and the students have to play with the contraption and figure out how it works.

The idea here is to have the students struggle with trial and error and then create a proposal that describes what to do. According to Jerusha, this helps their papers as they learn that good proposals have "sufficient details for another qualified researcher to actually implement the study or intervention."

Jerusha notes that the students often forget to even mention mice in their instructions.  This helps them realize that "success" must be defined and the audience has to understand what success is and how it is achieved.

See below for the corresponding handout.

3-15_writing_about_processes.pdf113.79 KB