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KINE 4060, the Independent studies course in the school of Health Science and Kinesiology at York University, is a research practicum course that allows students the unique opportunity to obtain research training,  applied practical training, and specialized laboratory training. It allows you to develop a close working relationship with a professor and gives you the chance to dive deep into a topic in your field you are passionate about. Completing these credits is known for requiring a lot of hard work and dedication, but students can thrive and make the most of this experiential learning opportunity with the following tips!

1. Explore your area of interest.

The first step in ensuring success in your research is reflecting on what interests you personally. You will need to ask yourself which topics related to Kinesiology excite you and spark your interest. Do some exploring on the web, search the school’s library databases, and get a feel for what the field of existing research looks like. Is there a specific population you are interested in learning more about, a specific health behaviour or condition you are curious about? Reflect on the topics you have focused on in your courses and which ignited the most curiosity within you. These are all potential focuses for your research.

2. Pick a Supervisor Carefully.

For the Independent study course, it is the student’s responsibility to approach a professor who will be their supervisor – this is the individual who they must seek prior consent from, who will provide them with guidance, and who will evaluate their project. You will often be undertaking research related to your supervisor’s specialization or current research so the first thing to do is to go to the faculty page on the school of health science and Kinesiology website to explore the professor profiles. Here, you will be able to view the kind of research the professors in the department are currently doing or have done in the past. You will want to then email the professor whose research aligns with your personal area of interest and inquire whether they would be willing to supervise you for the course. Do this early as professors generally get approached by many students and can only take on a limited number. It is a great idea to pick a professor who you have taken a course with as you will be more familiar with their research area and have a better understanding of whether you might be able to see yourself working with them.

3. Plan ahead and create deadlines for yourself.

Completing an Independent research study course requires a lot of self-discipline and time-management skills. This is due to the fact that much of the course is self-paced. You won’t be given many deadlines, but the deadlines you will be given are for larger amounts of work than you would normally complete in a course. You are given a lot of time to complete the steps in the research process and reports but if you don’t remain mindful throughout the semester, it can be easy to end up pinched for time days before a deadline. You want to avoid this because your overall mark will be dependent on a smaller number of assignments that have a heavier weighting. It is important to keep yourself accountable by creating additional deadlines for yourself and planning out the semester in advance as you will have limited guidance in how to structure your work.  Set rewards for yourself when you hit personal deadlines and make time for plenty of breaks.

4. Communicate With Your Research Partner.

You will often be assigned a research partner to carry out the research with. This is usually a fellow undergraduate student also enrolled in an independent study. You will be working together on portions of the research and working closely with each other for the duration of the semester. You will report to your supervisor for assigned deadlines and some guidance, but ultimately, it will be tasked to the two of you to keep each other accountable, organized, and productive. Create a plan with your research partner at the beginning of the semester, dividing up tasks and making plans to meet and check in with each other throughout the semester. You will need to communicate clearly with your partner and figure out each other’s strengths and weaknesses – this will help in deciding which tasks are most suited to who.

5. Get excited! Stay motivated!

The best way to ensure success in the Independent study course at York University is to start with a positive attitude. You will be diving deep into a topic you are interested in and passionate about and that should excite you! Sometimes, there are even opportunities to get published with a professor in this course and the opportunities for growth are endless. Stay motivated by talking about the exciting work you’re doing with your peers, family, and friends. Talking to others about your work will open up your mind to new considerations in your work and keep you engaged in the work. Remain focused on your larger vision and goals and the real-life applicability of your studies. At the end of the day, you are contributing to a larger body of research that is out there- ultimately playing your part in changing the world.
While taking on an Independent study credit has its challenges, it is a rewarding experience that allows students to grow and network in an invaluable way. The skills you will take away from this kind of experiential learning are incredibly transferable and applicable. If you want to get your feet wet in research and truly understand how research in academia works, taking on an independent study course is a great way to start. It is also a great way to get some killer reference letters and become familiar with what graduate studies may entail should you choose to pursue further studies after your undergraduate degree. With these tips, your experience with KINE 4060 is sure to be a success.


Sahar J

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