Research on Tourism: A Review Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 08:25:56
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The following is a review of three (3) completed research articles on the tourism industry, all taken from Higher Academy Network for Hospitality, Leisure, Sports & Tourism Network and administered by the Higher Education Academy.

All the above pedagogic researches pertain to processes and ideas in the teaching of tourism-related courses, which include, aside from Tourism, Sports Education, Leisure and Hospitality. Each one is aimed at contributing to the sustainability of education in these areas and in supporting students in their academic and project work. Two of the research articles use materials based on sources from the internet. Here the students are provided with assistance on how online reference materials can be useful in both their academic and extra-curricular studies.

These researches form part of the Networks intention to spread its work and coverage to the wider academic community through the Pedagogic Research Project Fund used in undertaking the research projects. The Hospitality, Leisure, Sports and Tourism Network covers a wide range of subject areas including Recreation, Events Management and Sports Science, as well as Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism.

The aim is to create a network within the subject grouping and this is being achieved through a structure where the Liaison Officers link with the different industry associations, Institutional Partners (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) contribute both an institutional and a geographical context, and Departmental Contacts who are located in the majority of institutions offer the subjects. The over-all objective of the Network is to share practices and ideas to make the processes of learning and teaching within the different subject areas simpler and more effective.

The Higher Education Academy is the lead agency in the network, working with the UK higher education sector for knowledge, practice and policy related to the student experience in higher education.

In the next section a review of each of the three research articles will be made, specifically covering the methods of research used, their effectiveness and appropriateness. There are several methods used in collecting data to be used in undertaking research. There is substantial online material which provide information on these. Among the general methods used are the following: questionnaires, surveys, checklists, interviews, documentation review,

observation, focus groups, and case studies.[3]  The Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction identifies five (5) research methods used in the social and natural sciences and these are: experiment, correlation, naturalistic observation, survey and case study.[4]  With knowledge of these methods, a review will be made of the three research articles.

Agenda 21 & Higher Education: Sustainable Development Education in Leisure and Tourism Degree Courses (by Tony Curson, University of North London) [5]

Based on the project brief about the research, this project was undertaken from April 2001 to March 2003 by Tony Curson from the University of North London. This was in partnership with the Tourism Concern & University of North London Business School and funded by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN). The project aimed to ensure the inclusion of Sustainable Development Education (SDE) within the leisure and tourism Higher Education sector, using Agenda 21[6] as a focus.

The project aims to identify the most relevant subject areas and arrive at the most appropriate means for introducing sustainable development education in the leisure and tourism undergraduate curriculum. The practical recommendations were changes in the appropriate areas of the leisure and tourism curriculum and their value and effectiveness monitored. A pilot program of student support was initiated for sustainability issues outside the formal curriculum and a guidance paper was produced.

The research methods used were the following: consulting with staff at all levels, mapping existing sustainability content, identifying opportunities for sustainability, identifying obstacles to sustainability, recommending integration measures, and disseminating the outcomes to others. The recommendation was a proposal to integrate the following subjects in the curriculum: First year: Business in Society, Second year: Tourism Business in Society and Third year: Sustainability tools and solutions for tourism. Specific guidelines were made to include the teaching methodologies, desired learning outcomes, duration of courses, course content, among others.

The outcome of the project is contained in the Guidelines for Integrating Sustainability into the Undergraduate Curriculum: Leisure and Tourism.[7] The Guidelines indicate that this is a well-organized research paper that observed the entire process of completing the work from the collection of data to its evaluation. Consultation was effectively used from start to finish and even after the completion of the research, a workshop was organized to obtain feedback. Even the methods used in organizing the workshop were well-processed. In getting feedback from the practitioners, the Guidelines were sent prior to the workshop, giving the participants time to properly evaluate them. The workshop articipants were properly selected as they were mostly those with the knowledge and experience about sustainability issues. Over-all, the methods used were effective in achieving the objectives of the research project. Research Gateway for Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism: A Project to Develop and Evaluate Online Materials to Support Student Project Work (by Dr. Tess Kay and Dr. Leigh Robinson, Loughborough University)[8]

As outlined in the projects Final Report, the aim is to develop, pilot and assess materials to support student research project work in hospitality, leisure, sports and tourism. Part of the objectives too was to produce generic web-based materials that could be used as models by institutions involved in student work of this type, and to evaluate the effectiveness of these online resources in supporting student research project work in the specified subject areas.

The method used was not identified in terms of concrete steps but from the summary report the following method was determined: A search of online materials was made following the formulation of a research structure in consultation with the persons in charge of supervising student projects. Then the students were asked to use the online materials identified. An evaluation of the students research projects was made at various points over their completion.

The findings showed that the information gathered for the research gateway was very useful because it was organized around the objective of helping them come up with good research papers. However, some were confused or overwhelmed with the amount of information available that they need not access all the sites.

While the method used was the conventional way of evaluating available reference material (by surfing the net), the way it was evaluated as to its usefulness and effectiveness was not completely organized. Some students were only encouraged to use the Gateway materials, some were not even told to use them at all. If an evaluation is to be made, there must be consistency in the methods used. A sample group must be made to uniformly undertake a particular action. This is the reason why the research project failed to evaluate the impact of the Gateway work. The student projects could not be evaluated as to the quality of their work since not all of them used the reference materials prescribed. This means that the impact of the gateway research could not also be determined.

Virtual Learning Environments in Hospitality, Leisure, Tourism and Sports A Review

(by David Botterill, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff) [9]

This projects objective is to scope the existing and potential exploitation of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) in the subjects Hospitality, Leisure, Tourism and Sports. The means of doing was through a survey of founding partner institutions in the subject areas and a benchmark exercise matching the findings of the survey against best practices in selected subject areas. Recommendations were made for the future of VLE in the different subjects.

Among the outcomes were: a review of the current status of VLE application in founding partner institutions of the Leisure, Tourism and Sports Network, examples of best practices from the subject areas adopted as benchmark indicators, a scoping statement on potential developments in VLE for the identified subject areas, and a written report of the project.

The method used was a two-fold qualitative research approach focused on seeking data at both the subject-specific and the institutional level, using survey research questions. This was participated in by the networks Institutional Partners (10 universities).  Subject level and institutional individuals were identified and asked to participate in either an email or telephone survey. Further, a snowballing technique was used to identify individuals with examples of current practice in using VLEs.

This research project is largely based on the use of the research questionnaire method. The outcome of the research indicates that the method was effective in attaining its objectives. The key to the success of the research is the questionnaire because this serves as the basis of the evaluation. All conclusions and recommendations are based on the information contained in the questionnaires.  From the survey, the research even contributed to increasing the levels of understanding among individuals and institutions regarding the learning environments used. The only limitation perhaps is that it failed to make specific recommendations on improving the application or delivery of virtual learning environments.

The three research projects made use of similar methods like the questionnaires, surveys, interviews, documentation review, among others but each method was used in a way that will make the research attain its individual objectives in a more complete way.

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