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This week, Petia Petrova considers how best to realise the tremendous learning potential studying in a research-rich environment offers students.

Research Summary

To continue the points made above in the video, Brew and Boud (1995, p.267) argued that research and teaching “both involve processes of exploration of existing knowledge, yet both seek to go beyond it. Both involve the human act of making meaning, making sense of phenomena in the world. Both are, in this sense, developmental. (…) Both involve thinking and critical reflection, using resources to aid the process, using evidence, setting goals and planning, yet needing to be open to the unplanned and the unexpected.”

The full reference is: Brew, A. and D. Boud (1995). Teaching and Research: Establishing the Vital Link with Learning. Higher Education 29(3), 261-273.

This work is one of the seminal texts in its field.  It has informed much of what has been published since. 

In the paper, Brew and Boud appreciate that the link between research and teaching is contested, and note the challenges of evidencing claims that research benefits teaching. They acknowledge that research and teaching are both multifaceted activities, and hence some aspects of research productivity and teaching effectiveness can be correlated.  Importantly, they also identify that the link between teaching and research cannot be fully realised unless our conceptions of research and teaching are more rounded.  They argue we should  not focus on teaching as a simplistic teacher-focussed, information transition model, but should focus instead on the more complex issue of  students’ learning. 

Student learning in a research-intensive university must be about much more than the transmission of existing research material from teacher to student. After all, anyone with sufficient understanding can access our widely available research publications and ‘transmit’ what they contain. Research-intensive teaching is that which engages students in research-intensive learning, and it is this dynamic conceptualisation of learning that should be the hallmark of education in a research-intensive university.

What we lack to move these discussions forward are good examples of research-intensive teaching and learning in practice that we can share across our university. We also need to know much more about how students understand and experience research-intensive teaching/learning and what they expect from a research-intensive education; indeed, why not start simply by asking them?

Additional resources and practical tools

Further reading Brew, A. (2006). Research and Teaching: Beyond the divide. New York, Palgrave Macmillan.

A useful report from the Higher Education Academy