Oct. 21, 2020

Hands-on workshops boost nursing faculty, staff and students’ research skills

Researcher Development Initiative (ReDI) workshops offer evidence-based practical skills training
Researcher Development Initiative (ReDI)
Researcher Development Initiative (ReDI)

Amy Beck is a doctoral student at the Faculty of Nursing who’s currently studying sleep in adolescents. As part of her study, she had a parent and teenager wear an actigraphy watch which collected data on their movement 24 hours a day.

Faced with a huge amount of raw data to process - 10 days of broad movement for both the parent and child plus additional raw data, Beck says she turned to the Nursing Research Office (NRO) for assistance with SPSS, a software package used for statistical analysis. That was her first introduction to a Researcher Development Initiative (ReDI) workshop.

ReDI is an evidence-informed practical skills training offered by members of the NRO staff for nursing graduate students, research staff and faculty to improve their research capacity and confidence in selected areas.

Participants can earn digital badges and meta-badges by successfully completing hands-on workshops on a variety of topics including participant recruitment strategies, qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis, scholarly writing and dissemination, research grants, project management and more. Currently, there are 33 individual badges to take in 12 meta-badges areas.

ReDI badges

“I’m a huge proponent of them,” says Beck. “I’m always finding stuff to use these ReDI workshops for. I feel I got way more practical skills that solidified the knowledge. This isn’t the same thing as a regular workshop where you might not use it after. You’ll use it right during the workshop, and then the learning is retained longer because you did it.”

Since ReDI launched September 2019, the NRO has delivered 29 workshops to date covering 19 different badges (some workshops were offered several times). Some workshops are a single two-hour session, while others comprise 2 two-hour sessions. Participants must successfully complete a post-workshop assessment to earn their digital badge. While workshops began as in-person sessions, due to COVID-19, the NRO has been delivering ReDI workshops via Zoom since early 2020.

Beck has personally completed eight individual badges and one meta-badge so far.

“I’m glad I am doing them now, but I wish I had started sooner. If you’re a new grad student, you might not be thinking recruitment because you haven’t hit candidacy yet but the stuff that you’re learning from these workshops will inform your project.”

To date, 124 badges and eight meta-badges have been issued to individuals across the Faculty of Nursing. In order to obtain a meta-badge, individuals must successfully complete all individual badges in a given area along with a summary assignment.

Heather Bensler, nursing instructor and director of International and Global Health, UCalgary Nursing, has also taken a variety of ReDI workshops and has even completed several metabadges.

“I’d encourage all [nursing] instructors to take advantage of it,” says Bensler. “They’re research-based but they’re also practical – I use it in my teaching all the time. I think I make a Qualtrics survey almost every day. Doing surveys is something that makes my job easier as a director and instructor.

“They’re super practical,” she continues. “Sometimes it’s a good refresh; other times, it takes a topic that you think is complex and then realize it’s not that complicated or difficult. It raises my confidence that I can do these things.”

To learn more, visit nursing.ucalgary.ca/research/ReDI.