Issues in Linking Teaching and Discipline Based Research: Disciplinary and Departmental Perspectives


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Professors Alan Jenkins (Oxford Brookes University) and Mick Healey (University of Gloucestershire) present Session 1 to the Higher Education Academy All Wales Research-Teaching Nexus Action Set Conference at Gregynog Hall, 1-2 September 2009 (near Newtown, Powys, Wales, UK). Session is introduced by the conference convenor Professor Simon Haslett of the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at the University of Wales, Newport (to skip introduction move to slide 2).

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Issues in Linking Teaching and Discipline Based Research: Disciplinary and Departmental Perspectives

  1. 1. While you are waiting for us to begin <ul><li>Please sit in groups of 3 with people from outside your institution </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss the issues in your institution / department / role which bring you to this session </li></ul><ul><li>This is a private discussion – at this stage! </li></ul>
  2. 2. Issues in Linking Teaching and Discipline Based Research: Disciplinary and Departmental Perspectives Alan Jenkins Professor Emeritus Oxford Brookes University (UK); HE Academy and QAA Scotland Consultant Mick Healey Professor University of Gloucestershire; Director Centre for Active Learning (CEAL); Director NTFS project: Leading, Promoting and Supporting Undergraduate Research in the New University Sector; Hon Professor University of Queensland; Visiting Professor Edinburgh Napier
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  7. 7. Our perspectives <ul><li>Student ‘understanding’ of the complexity of knowledge lies at the centre of higher education (Ron Barnett) </li></ul><ul><li>From the level of the academic, the student and the institution there are tensions between teaching and research </li></ul><ul><li>The research evidence cautions us as to whether students experience the potential benefits of learning in a research environment </li></ul><ul><li>We need to maximise the (potential) synergies and minimise the conflicts </li></ul><ul><li>This requires actions at a variety of levels: individual, course team, department, institution, national and international disciplinary communities </li></ul><ul><li>The link at undergraduate level is both most problematic and most important </li></ul><ul><li>There will be institutional variations in what can be achieved in different types of institutions / departments and discipline / professional areas </li></ul>
  8. 8. Developing a research active curriculum <ul><li>“… universities should treat learning as not yet wholly solved problems and hence always in research mode” </li></ul><ul><li>Wilhelm von Humboldt on the future University of Berlin (1810, cited by Elton, 2005, 110) </li></ul><ul><li>“ We need to encourage universities and colleges to explore new models of curriculum . Government and funding bodies should incentivise and support the radical realignment of undergraduate curricula: we require curricula that are transdisciplinary, that extend students to their limits, that develop skills of inquiry and research , and that are imbued with international perspectives. … There are several models that we might explore. They should all: … Incorporate research-based study for undergraduates (to cultivate awareness of research careers, to train students in research skills for employment, and to sustain the advantages of a research-teaching connection in a mass or universal system) …” </li></ul><ul><li>Paul Ramsden, Chief Executive of the Higher Education Academy, in his invited contribution to the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills’ Debate on the Future of Higher Education (2008, 10–11, emphasis added) </li></ul>
  9. 9. The shift from ‘teaching only’ universities -2003 UK White Paper <ul><li>“ We want all students to access the benefits exposure to teaching informed by research can bring. ... We believe an understanding of the research process – asking the right questions in the right way; conducting experiments; and collating and evaluating information – must be a key part of any undergraduate curriculum.” </li></ul><ul><li>Bill Rammell MP, Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education (2006, 3) </li></ul>
  10. 10. The evidence of practice and policy <ul><li>&quot;... The research universities have often failed … thousands of students graduate without seeing the world-famous professors or tasting genuine research&quot; (USA – Boyer Commission, 1998, 3) </li></ul><ul><li>“ It is surprising how few institutions have specific policies in place to … maximise these beneficial synergies” (UK – J M Consulting, 2000, 36) </li></ul>
  11. 11. Research evidence <ul><li>Loosely coupled </li></ul><ul><li>“ Based on this review we concluded that the common belief that teaching and research were inextricably intertwined is an enduring myth. At best teaching and research are very loosely coupled&quot; (Hattie and Marsh, 1996) </li></ul><ul><li>At arms length </li></ul><ul><li>Students at “arms length” from the worlds of university research (Brew, 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Research active </li></ul><ul><li>Increasing the number or proportions of research-active teaching staff in lower RAE-rated contexts is unlikely to affect the quality of student learning. However, the results do suggest that more could be done to help more students to experience the benefits of research-stimulated teaching environments, not between different types of research context, but within each context” (Trigwell, 2007) (emphasis added) </li></ul>
  12. 12. Acting on the research evidence <ul><li>“ The aim is to increase the circumstances in which teaching and research have occasion to meet. … Increase the skills of staff to teach emphasizing the construction of knowledge by students rather than the imparting of knowledge by instructors. ... Ensure that students experience the process of artistic and scientific productivity.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>(Hattie and Marsh, 1996, emphasis added) </li></ul>
  13. 13. A ‘language’ to help us examine what we do <ul><li>Learning about others’ research </li></ul><ul><li>Learning to do research – research methods </li></ul><ul><li>Learning in research mode – enquiry based </li></ul><ul><li>Pedagogic research – enquiring and reflecting on learning </li></ul>
  14. 14. STUDENTS ARE PARTICIPANTS EMPHASIS ON RESEARCH CONTENT EMPHASIS ON RESEARCH PROCESSES AND PROBLEMS STUDENTS FREQUENTLY ARE AN AUDIENCE Research-tutored Research-based Research-led Research-oriented Curriculum design and the research-teaching nexus (Healey and Jenkins, 2009, 7; amended from Healey, 2005, 70) Engaging in research discussions Undertaking research and inquiry Learning about current research in the discipline Developing research and inquiry skills and techniques
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  16. 16. Disciplinary case studies: A task <ul><li>Consider the relevance of ONE of these sets of ‘interesting’ Case Studies to practice in your institution </li></ul><ul><li>1 Natural Sciences pp8-10 </li></ul><ul><li>2 Social Sciences pp15-16 </li></ul><ul><li>3 Business, Law and Tourism pp21-2 </li></ul><ul><li>4 Geography and Environmental Studies pp25-27 </li></ul><ul><li>5 Arts and History pp41-3 </li></ul><ul><li>6 English pp47-8 </li></ul><ul><li>7 Education and philosophy p50 </li></ul>
  17. 17. Departmental strategies and policies <ul><li>“ We found little evidence to suggest that synergies between teaching and research were managed or promoted at departmental or institutional level … There were some attempts to manage teaching and research workloads in departments, partly to allow more time for research. Some strategies may be having the unintended consequence of driving research and teaching apart for some staff.” (J M Consulting, 2000, 36) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Structural changes: research centres housed staff freed from teaching responsibilities; graduate schools became the arenas for research, leaving departments to organise undergraduate teaching. Each of these (developments) was particular and peculiar, but the trend was gradually of a separation, structurally of research from teaching.” (McNay 1999, 196) </li></ul>
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  19. 19. Departmental case studies: A task <ul><li>See Department Strategies pp62-74 </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss the relevance of ONE or more of these strategies to your institutional / department context </li></ul>
  20. 20. A conclusion: Task one <ul><li>Private to the group </li></ul><ul><li>A round – each person speaks in turn … ONE idea I am taking forward to shape practice at my institution from this session is … </li></ul><ul><li>Then informal discussion </li></ul>
  21. 21. A conclusion: Task two <ul><li>As a group </li></ul><ul><li>Agree on ONE thing arising from this session worth saying to everybody here which is … </li></ul>