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Break Away From Teaching Versus Research

Tomorrow's Research

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This recent research moves the issue away from the focus on individual staff and whether the best researchers are the best teachers to reshaping teaching and research to better ensure they connect.


The posting below presents an interesting perspective on the continuing research versus teaching issue. It is from Alan Jenkins of the Westminster Institute Oxford Brookes University and the LTSN Generic Centre (UK). It draws on Jenkins A , Breen R , Lindsay R and Brew (2003) Reshaping Teaching in Higher Education : Linking Teaching and Research , London ,Kogan Page and distributed by Stylus in the USA. Reprinted with permission.

Regards, Rick Reis

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Tomorrow's Research


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"I believe that the main hope for realizing a genuinely student centered undergraduate education lies in re re-engineering the teaching -research nexus." Paul Ramsden (2001,4) , Pro Vice Chancellor, Learning and Teaching, University of Sydney.

In Scholarship Reconsidered Ernest Boyer (1990, X11) challenged US higher education to "break away out of the tired old teaching versus research debate." Since then scholars and institutions world-wide have sought to reshape the potential connections between faculty research and student learning . In doing this they have developed our understanding of the research evidence; focused on issues of course design; and started to reshape institutions in creative ways

Developing Research Understanding

At face value much of the research evidence questions whether there is a positive relationship between (faculty ) research and student learning. Much research has been statistical, examining mainly at the level of the individual academic research 'quality' and teaching 'quality'. In a meta analysis of this research, Hattie and Marsh (1996, 529) argued that "the common belief that teaching and research were inextricably intertwined is an enduring myth". However recent research, often using different research methodologies and focusing much more on the student experience, does argue for the importance of the teaching-research nexus. For example Baxter-Magolda (2001) sees involving students in research and research-like activities as supporting them in developing more sophisticated conceptions of knowledge . In a study of an intensive undergraduate summer research programme (at the University of Oxford ,Ohio ), she concluded that students who took part in the programme became more confident as learners and more capable of thinking independently.. Baxter Magolda (1999, 9) sees such research as validating what she describes as "constructive development pedagogy ?(in which) teachers model the process of constructing knowledge in their disciplines, teach that process to students, and give students opportunities to practice and become proficient at it." Research at Oxford Brookes and the University of East Anglia in the UK strongly reinforce the benefits students obtain from research in including 'knowledge currency' and faculty credibility; but also demonstrate that too often courses and overall institutional structures do not support them in realizing these potential benefits. (Jenkins , Blackman ,Lindsay and Paton-Saltlzberg , 1998 ;Lindsay ,Breen and Jenkins , 2002, and Zamorski 2002).

This recent research moves the issue away from the focus on individual staff and whether the best researchers are the best teachers to reshaping teaching and research to better ensure they connect.

Focus on Course Design

Consider this course from the geography department at University College London (UK) , in US terms a 'research one university'. In term one year one, all students in tutorial groups of about four interview a faculty member about their research .

*Individual faculty tutorial groups give tutorial groups their CV and three pieces of writing which are representative of their research.

*Before the interview students read these materials and develop an interview schedule, etc.

*On the basis of their reading and the interview, each student individually writes a report on a) the objectives of the interviewee's research; b) how that research relates to their earlier studies c) "how the interviewee's research relates to his or her teaching, other interests and geography as a whole".( Dwyer , 2001, 366).

Clearly the context is particular , small class sizes and all staff involved in high level research .But aspects of it are relevant to all institutions; in particular that the nexus is not automatic and has to be designed into courses.

Most of the many texts on course design totally ignore how to realize the nexus . Here is a model of course design from a student learning perspective that supports faculty in realizing the nexus .


Linking teaching and research is achieved when:

*Students learn how research within their disciplines leads to knowledge creation.

*Students are introduced to current research in their disciplines.

*Students learn research methods

*Students are motivated to learn through knowledge of and direct involvement in research.

*Students carry out research.

*Students participate in research conducted by their faculty .

*Students learn and are assessed by methods resembling research procedures in their discipline.

*Students learn how research is organized and funded. ( Based on Jenkins ,Breen, Lindsay and Brew 2003).


Departmental and Institutional Structures

One of the limitations of the correlation based research studies is that they seldom consider the institutional structures in which faculty and students work . Much of the international moves to connect staff research and student learning has sought to reshape these structures to better ensure fruitful connections . Many recognize the faculty are a 'mosaic of many talents'. To highlight some initiatives:

*US readers will be aware of the influential Boyer Commission ( University of Stony Brook 1998, 3) and its clarion call that "The research universities have too often failed, and continue to fail, their undergraduate populations." Much of the reform movement that this report helped stimulate has focused on institutional policies with respect to undergraduate research , first year inquiry based courses and capstone seminar,s etc. A recent study clearly demonstrates the "considerable headway that research universities have been making in recent years ?(but) that most efforts have been directed at the best students ; the challenge ?is to reach a broader spectrum of students" (and institutions) . (Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University, 2002, 2) . US organisations such as the Council on Undergraduate Research and the Conference for Undergraduate Research do invaluable work outside the research elite . The Reinvention Center focuses support on research universities

*In Canada, institutions such as McMaster University with an institutional focus on inquiry in year one and now upper level courses, and the University of British Columbia with a major redesign of the undergraduate curriculum are reshaping teaching to support the links .

*In Australia a government sponsored research study revealed how three very different institutions have sought to develop the nexus: the 'sandstone' research rich University of Western Australia , the more technology professional based Curtin University and the regional access focused Ballarat. (Zubrick ,Reid and Rossiter 2001) . Sydney University has a strategic plan to bring teaching and research together, and is experimenting with performance funding for departments to 'encourage' the link .

*In the UK there have been a range of initiatives including the research on the student experience described above. See Many institutions are making awareness of the nexus and course design to deliver it a central component of the ( compulsory ) courses for new academics that are a significant part of the UK scene . The accrediting body for such courses, the Institute for Learning and Teaching is requiring established faculty seeking accreditation to demonstrate how 'you draw on your subject research, scholarly activities or other professional activities in the support of teaching and learning.' At Oxford Brookes University a major redesign of the undergraduate curriculum is requiring all courses to demonstrate how they link teaching and research.

*National and international disciplinary associations can also play key roles in supporting the nexus. UK national funding has initiated two such projects -the materials of which are available world wide: Project Link and Linking Teaching and Research in the Disciplines

*In New Zealand in 2000-2001 all universities were audited nationally for the extent to which they were linking teaching and research .This stimulated much effort to achieve the nexus.


Internationally, faculty and institutions are moving away from teaching versus research and succeeding to link them creatively. We have still much to learn as to how to effect these links . We often face evident problems of under-funding, the failure of institutions worldwide to really value teaching, and the dominance of discovery research that is not connected to other university roles. But we have moved forward and our (potential ) students and society need our best efforts to build on this good work.


Baxter Magdola, M B (1999) Creating Contexts for Learning and Self-Authorship, Vanderbilt University Press, Nashville, Tenn.

Baxter Magdola, M B (2001) Interview with Alan Jenkins, April

Boyer, E L (1990) Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, New Jersey.

Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University. Shirley Strum Kenny, Chair .University of Stony Brook ( 2002) Reinventing Undergraduate Education : Three Years After the Boyer Report , University of Stony Brook , University of Stony Brook.

Dwyer, C (2001) Linking research and teaching: a staff-student interview project, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 25, pp 357-76.

Hattie, J and Marsh, H W (1996) The relationship between research and teaching: a meta-analysis, Review of Educational Research, 66 (4), pp 507-42.

Jenkins A , Breen R , Lindsay R and Brew (2002) Reshaping Teaching in Higher Education : Linking Teaching and Research , London ,Kogan Page and distributed by Stylus in the USA.

Jenkins, A , Blackman, T, Lindsay, R O and Paton-Saltzberg, R (1998) Teaching and research: student perceptions and policy implications, Studies in Higher Education, 23 (2), pp 127-41.

Lindsay R , Breen R and Jenkins A ( 2002) "Academic Research and Teaching Quality: the views of undergraduate and postgraduate students, Studies in Higher Education, 27,(3), 309-327.

Ramsden, P (2001) Strategic management of teaching and learning, in Improving Student Learning Strategically, ed C Rust, OCSLD, Oxford, 1-10.

University of Stony Brook (1998) The Boyer Commission, Reinventing Undergraduate Education: A blueprint for America's research universities, Stony Brook, New York.

Zamorski B ( 2002) Research-led Teaching and Learning in Higher Education; a case. Teaching in Higher Education, 7 (4) , 411-427.

Zubrick , A ,Reid I and Rossiter P ( 2001) Strengthening the Nexus between Teaching and Research , Canberra , Department of Education ,Training and Youth Affairs.