Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) recently conducted a series of workshops for teachers about its Secondary School Research Experience Program (SSREP), drawing attendees from secondary schools across Qatar.
Through these workshops, QNRF presented its policies and guidelines for preparing final reports on SSREP projects and addressed concerns previously raised by teachers and students, including how to correctly reference academic material from a third party. SSREP, a joint initiative with the Supreme Education Council (SEC), is one of QNRF’s key funding programs, and aims to promote a culture of science and research at an early stage in students’ lives.
QNRF officials led the workshops between 5 and 7 March at their offices in West Bay, with the first day catering to male secondary school teachers and the second day designated for female teachers. The third day saw attendance from teachers of both genders from private schools across the country.
Dr Abdulla Al-Kamali, SSREP Program Officer, described the purpose of the Program and its workshops, saying, “SSREP is intended to enrich the learning experiences of secondary school students by helping them develop science and research skills, which will be valuable in their future academic and professional careers.”
He added, “Our workshops are an effort to ensure that teachers understand the Program’s requirements and explain how it will benefit their students if they participate. Once teachers are comfortable with the processes and procedures, they are better equipped to guide their students, and the experience is more rewarding for all.”
SSREP plays an important role in enhancing productive collaboration between teachers and students. Pupils are encouraged to undertake research, under the mentorship of their tutors, in projects that are directly derived from SEC-accredited curriculum standards.
QNRF invited Dr Khaled Saoud, Assistant Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar to present during the three days of workshops. Dr Saoud, recognised locally for his efforts to encourage student interest in science and mathematics, offered an educator’s perspective on the importance of scientific research in daily life and sparked thought- provoking discussion among the teachers in attendance.
Ms Hanane Hafri of Rabaa Al Adawiya Secondary School for Girls, one of the workshop participants, expressed her enthusiasm for QNRF’s initiative, saying, “These workshops are helpful. They give us a better understanding of the format of the program and a clearer picture of the research criteria. My students are keen to participate and so we need clarity on all the requirements and issues such as correct citation. With QNRF leading the way, we are encouraged to participate in SSREP and can explain the process better to our students.”
In previous cycles, secondary school students have completed research on a range of topics. These include an exploration of environmentally-friendly methods for maintaining comfortable temperatures in buildings in Qatar, an examination of the effects of participation in sport on respiratory volumes, heart rates and blood pressure in adolescent females and a study assessing the impact of wives on their husbands' lives in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Macbeth.