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Linking teaching and research Alan Jenkins

Summary

This article gives suggestions on:

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How staff can connect their own interests in research (in their discipline) to the content of their course. How to design courses so that students experience learning similarly to doing research. How to enable students to understand the nature and role of research in universities and society. How departments and institutions can support staff and students in connecting teaching and research.

Although the examples given are from a single discipline, Geography, I believe, has a very wide applicability.

What this article covers:

1. 2. 3. 4. Three illustrative case studies of courses that link teaching and research. What the research and scholarly evidence demonstrates. Strategies for linking teaching and research at the level of the module/course at undergraduate/postgraduate levels. Outline departmental/institutional strategies for linking teaching and research.

Biography

Alan Jenkins long taught Geography before becoming an educational developer/researcher http://www.brookes.ac.uk/services/ocsd/5_research/alan.html. With colleagues at Brookes he has researched undergraduate and postgraduate views of (staff) research. They (Alan Jenkins, Rosanna Breen and Roger Lindsay) are currently completing Linking Teaching and Research: A Guide for Academics and Policy Makers, to be published by the Staff and Educational Development Association - parts of which are previewed here. Alan Jenkins is adviser to an FDTL project on linking teaching, research and consultancy in Built Environment Disciplines. http://www.brookes.ac.uk/schools/planning/LTRC/

Keywords

embedding research in teaching, scholarly evidence, meta-analysis, geography, strategies linking research and teaching

Three illustrative case studies.

These three case studies show different ways in which students can gain a deeper understanding of how research by staff underpins and links with what they teach. 1.1 A research-based department

University College Geography Department requires all Year One students to do an assignment in term one, in which students interview a member of staff about their research.

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Each first-year tutorial group is allocated a member of staff who is not their tutor. Tutorial groups are given, by that member of staff, three pieces of writing which are representative of their work, and their CV, and then arrange a date for the interview. 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 1,500 word 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; d) other interests and geography as a whole (emphasis added). Claire Dwyer (in submission), "Linking Research and Teaching: a staff-student interview project."

1.2 A teaching department While such an assignment may be particularly appropriate to an elite research department, the basic model for this UCL course was devised at the then Oxford Polytechnic:

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The course was a final year synoptic module on the nature of geographic thought/practice. Lectures and readings set out the main directions and controversies in the discipline. Students were divided into groups and each group allocated a member of staff, who gave them a copy of their CV. A student group then interviewed that member of staff in class (with the rest of the students attending) about their academic history and views on the nature of contemporary geography.

The student group then wrote up the interview and set that person's view of the discipline in the wider context of the contemporary discipline. Cosgrove , D. (1981) "Teaching geographical thought through student interviews, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 5(1), 19-22. 1.3 Going beyond the department

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The geography BA degree at Liverpool John Moores Department includes a compulsory third-year synoptic course on Urban and Geographical Thought. A required assignment is an essay that asks students: "With regard to a key geographer or urbanist, summarise the main features of her/his work, show how this relates to methodology, and develop critiques of this work from one of the methodological perspectives presented in the module." This assignment requires extensive bibliographic work ... and when well-prepared by this (and should the scholar be still alive!) students may contact the researcher by e-mail ... to ascertain specific questions. (They are not allowed to do a study of staff in their department.)

These approaches to course design contextualised:

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This emphasis on linking teaching and research is but one way of designing courses/improving teaching. It needs to be complemented by other approaches http://www.brookes.ac.uk/services/ocsd/link1/cdesign1/ltrdobu.html. It may not be appropriate for some students/staff. It may be more appropriate to research-based departments and institutions. Clearly the emphasis in the three case studies above is on students understanding the nature of (staff) research - and it is but one way of achieving that. Though these are all examples from geography courses, the basic ideas are transferable to all disciplines. The form, though, may need to be rethought in some disciplines/departments, eg to consider team-based research or consultancy or artistic creation. Evidently these case studies need to be interrogated, eg do they present the academic as heroine? How does one prepare students to critically interview/interrogate the evidence/the member of staff? Who are interviewed -and who are not? How do course teams support students in seeing the wider context of research? Elsewhere in the curriculum, students need to develop the skills and knowledge to carry out research.

What the research and scholarly evidence demonstrates

There is a massive research and scholarly literature that has examined the evidence and the claims for the relationships between teaching and research. A review of this research is at http://www.brookes.ac.uk/schools/planning/LTRC/publications.html See also Alan Jenkins (2000), "The Relationship between Teaching and Research: where does Geography stand and deliver? ", Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 24 (3), 325-351.

In brief, the research evidence is that:

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Many academics and university mission statements emphasise the value of (staff) academic research to (undergraduate) student learning. However, this close positive relationship is not supported by most of the research evidence. Recent research has demonstrated that such positive linkages can occur but they have to be purposefully created by individuals, subject groups, institutions and national systems.

This web site focuses on giving such initial guidance on how to make such effective connections. Its starting point is this meta-analysis of the (then) research: 'The strongest policy claim that derives from this meta-analysis is that universities need to set as a mission goal the improvement of the nexus between research and teaching. The goal should not be publish or perish, or teach or impeach, but we beseech you to publish and teach effectively. The aim is to increase the circumstances in which teaching and research have occasion to meet, and to provide rewards, not only for better teaching or for better research, but for demonstrations of the integration between teaching and research .... Examples of strategies to increase the relationship between teaching and research include the following: increase the skills of staff to teach emphasising the construction of knowledge by students rather than the imparting of knowledge by instructors ... develop strategies across all disciplines that emphasise the uncertainty of the task and strategies within the disciplines ... ensure that students experience the process of artistic and scientific productivity.' Hattie, J. and Marsh, H.W. (1996), "The Relationship between Teaching and Research: A Meta-analysis", Review of Educational Research, Winter, 507-542, quotation 533 and 544

Strategies for linking teaching and research (and consultancy) at the level of the module/course at undergraduate/postgraduate level

This is a basic model that individuals and course teams can adapt and use to consider their current curriculum and in designing new courses. Aspects of it are further developed at http://www.brookes.ac.uk/services/ocsd/link1/cdesign1/cd1.html Develop students' understanding of the role of research in their discipline. To achieve this, it is necessary to:

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Develop the curriculum to bring out current/or previous research developments in the discipline. Develop student awareness of, learning from staff involvement in research. Develop student understanding of how research is organised and funded in the discipline/institution.

The three illustrative case studies develop these approaches. Develop students' abilities to carry out research/ consultancy in their discipline. To achieve this, it is necessary to:

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Develop the curriculum, in particular how students learn in ways that mirror/support the research/consultancy processes in the discipline. Assess students in ways that mirror/support the research/consultancy processes in the discipline. For example, requiring students to have their work assessed by colleagues according to the house style of a (fictitious) journal before submitting it to you; this mirrors how academic journals use referees to decide on whether an article is to be published. Provide training in relevant research/consultancy skills/knowledge. Develop student involvement in staff research/ consultancy. Perhaps restrict certain research opportunities to selected students? This is the effective approach developed in those UK/Australian institutions that require a dissertation for Honours Degrees. In the USA, which has long operated a mass higher education system, students involvement in research with staff is often only for those with high grades see web sites listed below.

Manage student experience of staff research/ consultancy. To achieve this, it is necessary to:

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Limit the negative consequences for students of staff involvement in research/consultancy. Most important here is managing the student experience of the days (and sabbatical terms) when staff are 'away' doing research. At a minimum, students need clear information as to when staff are available/away.

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Evaluate/research student experience of research/ consultancy and feed that back into the curriculum. Support students in making clear to them the employability elements of research and consultancy. This is particularly important for those students whose focus is on using a degree to get employment - and who may not otherwise appreciate the value of a research-based approach.

Other strategies you have developed: If you have developed further strategies, please e-mail them to Alan Jenkins at brookes.ac.uk

Useful web sites

http://helios.hampshire.edu/%7EapmNS/design/ Research-Based Courses - Hampshire College, Amherst USA, very useful for science-based courses. http://notes.cc.sunysb.edu/Pres/boyer.nsf Re-inventing undergraduate Education (1998) - focused on needs of students at (US) research-based universities but eminently transferable. http://www.sunysb.edu/Reinventioncenter/ Re-Invention Centre at Stony Brook, USA - in particular check Resources section.

Departmental and institutional strategies to link teaching and research

This website has focused at the level of the individual and the course team. Such efforts are more effective when they are supported by department, institution and national policies. Many UK institutional teaching strategies profess a commitment to linking teaching and research but with, as yet, little discussion as to how this is to be achieved. http://www.ncteam.ac.uk/ilts/index.html. Soon such mechanisms will be developed. Below is an outline of a range of possible departmental and institutional strategies.

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State linking teaching and research as central to the mission. Organise events - eg, an institution-wide conference http://www.brookes.ac.uk/services/ocsd/link1/ltr12.html publications to raise departmental/institutional awareness. Develop/Audit/Teaching/and Research policies and implement strategies to strengthen the teaching/research nexus, eg, Earlham College a US liberal arts college, required all internally-funded research proposals to include 'pedagogic impact statements'. (Chronicle of Higher Education, 17 March, 1995). All New Zealand universities in 2000 were audited for how they were linking teaching and research and the reports are publicly available at http://www.aau.ac.nz/audit_reports.shtml Don't just leave it to the teaching policies to achieve the link. Research on two US institutions clearly demonstrates that university research policies which encouraged/rewarded the writing of textbooks and computer software were central to some staff seeing their teaching and research roles as being integrated. Colbeck, C.C. (1998) "Merging in a Seamless Blend", The Journal of Higher Education 69(6): 647-671. Ensure the nexus is central to policies on inducting/ developing new staff, eg how many courses for new staff have this as an explicit (required) element? Ensure effective synergies between units and committees for teaching and research, eg Southampton Institute had a special joint meeting of the teaching and research committees to progress the connections. Ensure teaching/research links are central to policies on promotion and reward, eg by requiring staff to state and produce evidence of - how (undergraduate) students have benefited from staff involvement in research. Develop curriculum requirements, eg that 'honours graduates have to do project/research-based course': that 'all programmes have to have a synoptic or capstone module that explores the nature of current research/ thought in the discipline'. Review the timetable: just as staff need days/sabbaticals to do research, so students (and staff) may benefit from moving away from the normal fragmented timetable to effect periods of time when they concentrate on one issue? Publicise, celebrate and spread what has been achieved, eg a database of examples of effective practice.

Websites that give further details/examples of institutional/ departmental strategies include: Undergraduate Research at Rutgers University (New Jersey) http://web.rutgers.edu/urru/ A range of institutional strategies to ensure that undergraduates are involved in (staff) research: The Schreyer National Conference at Penn State http://www.shc.psu.edu/ Penn State organises an annual conference and linked special university programme to progress undergraduate research.

The Undergraduate Biology Research Program at University of Arizona http://www.blc.arizona.edu/ubrp/ An excellent example of a discipline/departmental honours student program that is "designed to teach students science by involving them in biologically-related research." Bringing Teaching and Research Together at Sydney University http://www.itl.usyd.edu.au/itl/docs/projects/default.htm. One of Sydney University's strategic aims is to bring teaching and research together. This developing strategy includes funded projects and the development of a performance indicator (and linked funding) on the scholarship of teaching.

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