How to write Research and Teaching statement

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Published Date:07-07-2017
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Research and Teaching Teaching Development Wāhanga Whakapakari Ako Dorothy Spiller Teaching Development Wāhanga Whakapakari Ako February 2012 Research and Teaching Introduction For many people, the link between research and teaching remains unquestioned. The assumption seems to be that academics base their teaching content on research in their field and that this is beneficial to learners. Closer scrutiny indicates that the relationship between teaching and research may not always be harmonious or beneficial to learners. Present day academics may be surprised to learn that the emphasis on research in the universities is a relatively modern phenomenon that derived primarily from the German universities and really only th took strong hold in the 20 century (Hattie & Marsh, 1996). Furthermore, the relationship between research and teaching has been increasingly contested by education scholars (see Haigh, 2010). The assumption that content–based research inevitably benefits students has been challenged and other ways of synergising these two facets of academic life to maximise the benefits for student learning have been examined and developed. RESEARCH & TEACHING • TDU • 2 • The terminology currently used to describe various ways of conceptualising the research- teaching relationship can be confusing so some basic definitions are outlined here:  Research-led teaching Research-led teaching refers to the fact that the content of the teaching is informed by the discipline-related research of staff themselves and that of others in the field.  Research-based teaching (or inquiry- based learning). Student learning is organised in such a way as to develop generic research dispositions and the particular modes of inquiry of their academic discipline (Griffiths, 2004; Healey 2005; Jenkins, Breen & Lindsay, 2003).  Scholarship of teaching and learning The design and practice of teaching and learning activities is informed by research by staff themselves or others in the field (Boyer, 1990; Haigh 2010). RESEARCH & TEACHING • TDU • 3 • STUDENT-FOCUSED Students as Participants Research- Research- tutored based Curriculum Curriculum emphasizes emphasizes learning students focused on undertaking students inquiry-based writing and learning EMPHASIS ON discussing EMPHASIS ON RESEARCH papers or RESEARCH PROCESSES essays CONTENT AND Research-led Research- PROBLEMS Curriculum is orientated structured Curriculum around emphasizes teaching teaching subject processes of content knowledge construction in the subject TEACHER-FOCUSED Students as Audience Figure 1. The links between curriculum design and the research-teaching nexus (Healey, 2005) Healey argues that most university teaching emphasises the bottom half of this quadrant, particularly the bottom-left quadrant. He suggests that, contrariwise, universities should emphasise the top half of this table, particularly research- based teaching as this has the most benefits for learners. Note too that Healey also talks about a research-orientated curriculum that emphasises the processes by which knowledge is produced in the discipline and learning the skills for research inquiry. Some questions arise from Healey‘s argument, and these are explored next. RESEARCH & TEACHING • TDU • 4 • Research-led teaching Does the fact that someone is an active researcher automatically make him or her a good teacher? Universities often argue that a key factor that distinguishes them from other institutions in the post-compulsory sector is that the teaching is research-led. Similarly, the research-teaching nexus is another phrase used to describe the nature of university education. It was seen as axiomatic that when teaching content was directly informed by research, then the quality of students‘ learning would be enhanced. The advertising campaigns that focus on the PBRF attainments of particular disciplines promote the perception that excellent research performance will translate into a high quality learning experience for students. Some of the arguments put forward by advocates of this position include the view that:  It is a given of academia. In their comprehensive and seminal meta-analysis of the relationship between teaching and research, Hattie and Marsh (1996) cite numerous studies of academics‘ views on the research–teaching relationship. These studies suggest that for the majority of academics this association is an incontrovertible aspect of university education. For proponents of this position, the argument for a positive correlation between research and teaching is simply because it is obvious (Hattie & Marsh, 1996). Interestingly, the authors note that most academics do not believe the inverse of this proposition: that an academic needs to take teaching seriously in order to be a good researcher. RESEARCH & TEACHING • TDU • 5 •  Active researchers are at the “cutting edge” of their discipline. In this explanation teachers who are active researchers have the wherewithal to push their students to the boundaries of knowledge and understanding. It is assumed that researchers are per se up with the latest developments in their field, and that this must therefore positively affect their teaching.  The same attributes characterise successful researchers and successful teachers. Proponents of this point of view contend that there is a close correlation between the characteristics and personal attributes of a researcher and a teacher; the argument is, therefore, that those who demonstrate good research skills will naturally be geared to becoming effective teachers. The attributes that these practices are perceived to have in common include a high level of commitment, focus, organisation of materials, analysis and communication (Hattie & Marsh, 1996).  The enthusiasm generated for the teacher by active engagement in research will rub off on the students. The underlying premise here is that the teacher will communicate the passion and energy generated by active involvement in research to students who will in turn be excited by the subject and the possibilities offered by research. RESEARCH & TEACHING • TDU • 6 •  Academics can offer their students first-hand knowledge. This is similar to the ―cutting edge‖ argument, but also involves the perception that students will respond to the authenticity and credibility of a teacher who is actively engaged in research. Commentators who argue that there is a negative correlation between research and teaching put forward a number of counter arguments. These include:  Time constraints - the idea that a disproportionate commitment to either one of these dimensions will have a negative impact on performance in the other area (Hattie & Marsh, 1996).  Different attributes - it is argued that the traits demanded for extensive successful discipline research output are fundamentally different from those required in the teaching and learning experience. For example, research activity is portrayed as generally individualistic, solitary and private whereas teaching is a public inter-personal activity (Hattie & Marsh, 1996).  Institutions, despite giving lip service to the importance of teaching, still prioritise discipline-related research (Gurm, 2009, cited in Haigh, 2010). This prioritising makes it difficult for teaching and research to be positively correlated because of systemic barriers. See also Zahra, 2011.  Career advancement is primarily linked to research output. RESEARCH & TEACHING • TDU • 7 • Model Evidence Negative Relationship Scarcity That time on teaching and research is negatively correlated That commitment to teaching and research is negatively correlated That time on teaching is positively related to teaching quality That time on research is positively related to publications Differential personality That the personality qualities of teaching and research are negatively correlated Researchers are loners, teaching communal Divergent rewards That research and teaching are motivated by different reward systems Positive Relationship Conventional wisdom That research performance is a prior condition for good teaching “G” Model That research and teaching share similar underlying qualities (e.g., high commitment, creativity, investigativeness, and critical analysis) Zero relationship Different enterprise That research and teaching have no common underlying dimensions in common Unrelated personality That the personality attributes of teachers and researchers are orthogonal Bureaucratic funding That the financing of teaching and research, if independent, will lead to better resourcing and thus increased quality in both The investigation by Hattie and Marsh (1996) concluded that: ―the common belief that research and teaching are inextricably entwined is an enduring myth. At best research and teaching are very loosely coupled‖ (1996, p.529). RESEARCH & TEACHING • TDU • 8 • It is unhelpful to accept the conventional wisdom that research enhances teaching and learning or to perpetuate the ongoing conceptualisation of these two areas as oppositional qualities. Both elements are core to the requirements of tertiary educators and the demands for higher performance on both fronts are increasing. For instance, in 2010 the N.Z. government signalled that up to 10% of institutions‘ incomes would henceforth come from programme completions rather than enrolment of students. Student retention and success obviously depends on sound teaching. Furthermore, the discussion can more constructively be reframed in terms of the way research and teaching orientations can be brought together to enhance the attributes that students develop in tertiary education and the quality of the teaching they receive as well as their learning experience. In the next section of this booklet, we will focus on ways of synergising research and teaching and maximising the opportunities that this complementary relationship can offer for both teachers and learners. In general, academics need to deliberately and explicitly consider ways of making research count in what happens for the learners, and to develop this understanding through sound and reflective teaching. RESEARCH & TEACHING • TDU • 9 • A research-based approach to the curriculum and the design of student learning 1. General principles Create a learning environment in which the development of research-minded dispositions is a deliberate part of the planning and implementation of teaching and learning activities:  work from the paradigm of your students as co-inquirers;  introduce your own research explicitly into your teaching;  invite students to participate in research activities;  design inquiry-based learning and assessment activities;  invite your students to engage with the uncertain and the unresolved; and  search your own discipline‘s journals for examples of how other teachers have helped students to develop researching attitudes (e.g. Mazur, 1997, for physics). Jenkins, Breen and Lindsay (2003) have developed a helpful framework for building the connection between research and teaching. They suggest that linking teaching and research is achieved when:  students learn how research within their discipline leads to knowledge creation; RESEARCH & TEACHING • TDU • 10 •  students are introduced to current research in their disciplines;  students learn methods used to carry out research in their disciplines;  students are motivated to learn through knowledge of and direct involvement in research;  students carry out research;  students participate in research conducted by their lecturers;  students learn and are assessed by methods resembling research procedures in their discipline;  students learn how research is organised and funded;  students become members of a school or department and university culture within which learning, research and scholarship are integrated; and  students‘ learning is supported by systems and structures at departmental, institutional, and national level that facilitate staff scholarship and research in the pedagogy of the disciplines as well as disciplinary scholarship and research. RESEARCH & TEACHING • TDU • 11 • Linking teaching and research is also achieved through:  university staff at all levels basing practice and policy on knowledge and learning obtained through research (and reflections of practice);  academic staff using current pedagogic research findings when designing and delivering courses;  institutional managers and national policy makers basing policies, including those on teaching-research relations, on the best available research and scholarly evidence. Jenkins, A., Breen, R. & Lindsay, R. (2003) Reshaping Teaching in Higher Education. Great Brit- ain: Kogan Page, p.61. 2. Research-based teaching (enquiry-based learning) Enquiry-based learning requires students to think and work in a ―research-minded‖ way (Meyer & Land, 2006). Students are invited and encouraged to formulate questions, to respond to what is only partially formulated and to negotiate different perspectives. Healey (2005) suggests that in order to facilitate these processes, lecturers need to work less in the traditional content-based curriculum and move to one in which the curriculum emphasises students undertaking enquiry-based learning. The argument is that enquiry-based teaching is not just about training students for academic RESEARCH & TEACHING • TDU • 12 • careers but can develop attributes that will be crucial to successfully coping with the st complexities and uncertainties of the 21 century. Ray cited a number of educational theorists, intellectuals and scholars who voice this view. Here are some representative examples: “Intellectual uncertainty is not necessarily or simply a negative experience, a dead-end sense of not knowing, or of indeterminacy. It is just as well an experience of something open, generative, exhilarating, (the trembling of what remains undecidable). I wish to suggest that „intellectual uncertainty‟ is... a crucial dimension of any teaching worthy of the name.” (Royle, 2003, p.52) “We are all researchers now... Teaching and research are becoming ever more intimately related... In a „knowledge society‟ all students—certainly all graduates have to be researchers. Not only are they engaged in the production of knowledge; they must also be educated to cope with the risks and uncertainties generated by the advance of science.” (Scott, 2002, p.13) “Never has the educational philosophy behind this belief been more important: the changing world to be faced by today‟s students will demand unprecedented skills of intellectual flexibility, analysis and enquiry. Teaching students to be enquiring or research-based in their approach is not just a throwback to quaint notions of enlightenment or liberal education but central to the hard-nosed skills required of the future graduate workforce.” (Hammond, 2007, 1) RESEARCH & TEACHING • TDU • 13 • The attractiveness of enquiry-based learning is that it can both provide the intellectual challenges we want for our students, and potentially equip students for a sophisticated intellectual and moral engagement with society and the workplace. But this kind of learning is of necessity unsettling, because it invites students from places of safety into terrains of uncertainty. It is best introduced incrementally from the beginning of study, and students must be invited to share its rationale and approaches. Students need to be supported by appropriate pedagogy and assessment. Working in this way may not involve major practical changes for teachers, but it does require a shift in being which they too may find unsettling and uncertain. We invite you to look at the complete video of Ray‘s talk http:// wwwtest.waikato.ac.nz/tdu/resources/ researchteaching.shtml and to consider the examples in this edition as an exciting way to enhance research–teaching linkages and equip graduates with the capabilities to cope in our contemporary society. RESEARCH & TEACHING • TDU • 14 • In the summary that follows, Science educator Susan Jones shows how she helps students to develop research interests and skills. Promoting the Teaching/ Research Nexus in the Undergraduate Curriculum Abstract from HERDSA 2008 I outline a model for creating a whole-of-School community of researchers, and promoting the teaching/research nexus to students across the three years of the undergraduate curriculum, influenced by the Garnett and Holmes (1995) model of the benefits of research in teaching and learning, I have facilitated the development of an integrated and incremental program of activities across the three undergraduate years. I adopted a blended learning approach with face-to-face activities facilitated via a Web Portal. The program E3 (―Enhance, Extend, Encourage‖) aims to:  enhance our students‘ understanding of how research and researchers contribute to current knowledge and to society;  enhance the undergraduate experience through engaging students in debate about topical issues in science;  encourage our undergraduate students to think of themselves as current and future researchers; and  extend our undergraduate students‘ participation in research activities. RESEARCH & TEACHING • TDU • 15 •  The program is voluntary, and open to all interested. Through the Reach into Research Web Portal.  For first year students: we upload fortnightly topical research news items (e.g. Web links or papers) relevant to their current learning and usually showcasing Tasmanian/Australian researchers.  For 2nd/3rd year students: while we welcome our undergraduates at any seminar, we organise two ―Reach into Research seminars‖ each semester. These seminars are followed by extended discussions restricted to the undergraduates, encouraging them to engage with the speaker. We bring in members of the local scientific community to give these seminars. Students are exposed to the wider implications of the science they are learning, and to potential career paths.  The Zoology Student Volunteers program links researchers offering projects with 2nd/3rd year undergraduates wanting real research experiences. Volunteers choose from a range of field or laboratory based projects and gain authentic research experiences. Our 2007 Honours cohort included four students who had taken part in the Student Volunteers program. These innovations are layered upon our formal undergraduate curriculum in which we increasingly provide students with opportunities to ―think as scientists‖ and to reflect upon research activity in the School. These range from interactive discussions of ethics and research design at first year level, training in data RESEARCH & TEACHING • TDU • 16 • interpretation, analysis and scientific reporting in second year, through to major group research projects in the majority of our third year units. In addition, the E3 program provides our Honours and postgraduate students with the opportunity to serve as role models and mentors through the Student Volunteer Program. They benefit from real assistance with their research, and gain valuable skills in directing and being responsible for team members. These are key generic skills for researchers, and feedback from surveys of the mentors suggests that this is an important outcome of the initiative. We surveyed our Honours and third year students to gauge the impact of the activities described above on their decisions to: (a) continue studying Zoology, or (b) to plan a career in research. Results were overwhelmingly positive. AUTHOR: Susan Jones, University of Tasmania, Australia S.M.Jonesutas.edu.au RESEARCH & TEACHING • TDU • 17 • Snippets from practice The following examples may give you some ideas for your own practice. Many case studies are also available on the enhancement themes website (http:// www.enhancementthemes.ac.uk/). A common underlying theme is that students are engaged as participants rather than as audience, and learning to generate questions is an essential ingredient. If you want to introduce similar approaches in your own practice, it is best to introduce them progressively, starting in very small ways right from the beginning of their studies. It is also important to share the rationale for your approach with the students and alert them to the graduate attributes that they will be developing. Examples outlined in Ray‘s talk Faculty of Engineering Level 1 This exercise happened in induction week right at the beginning of the students‘ university study. They were formed into groups of three and each group was given an item (for example, a mobile phone or spectacles). They were then instructed to knock on any door in the faculty over the next seven days and ask faculty members about their research and what impact it could make on their particular object in ten years‘ time. (All the faculty members had been prepared for this.) The students had to ask for explanations to be given in a language that they could understand. In the following week student groups explained their findings to the rest of the class. In this exercise the students got a first- hand encounter with researchers and research, acquired a feeling for their academic home, and began to think about the sorts of questions that needed to be asked. RESEARCH & TEACHING • TDU • 18 • English Studies Paper Level 2 This learning initiative took place at an all women‘s liberal arts college in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The college as a whole strongly emphasised enquiry-based learning. The students were studying ―Jazz‖ by Tony Morrison, a novel with strong sexual content. The women were given a scenario to address. In this scenario, the novel had been set for 16 year old students at a Milwaukee girls‘ school. The students were told that the parents had objected to their daughters studying the text on the grounds of obscenity. The teachers had said that the book would stay on the curriculum because of its literary merits. The students were invited to work in groups to provide a report for the parent teacher authority which advised on these matters. In order to respond to this exercise, the students had to read the book, had to investigate the relationship between obscenity and literature (and possibly the historical and legal precedent), arrive at some agreement as to what constitutes literary merit, and then decide how they arrive at a judgement about literary merit. They had to work collaboratively, and they had to write a report for a particular audience—the school governing body. Finally, one member of each group had to give a presentation, but they were not told beforehand which one it would be. The exercise encouraged the students to develop a whole range of research-minded skills, such as question formulation, identifying and RESEARCH & TEACHING • TDU • 19 • documenting evidence, and persuasive communication skills. The students enjoyed this learning process, although when asked if they liked working in this way, they said ―what way?‖ as they were so used to it that it did not seem remarkable. This is because the College spends a lot of time developing these ways of working and students learn them from the outset. Level 1 Psychology This involved a large class. The traditional three lectures per week were replaced by one lecture and two online classes. In the online work done in groups, students had to investigate a topic and produce three different interpretations of it. Initially the online discussions were quite basic, but as time passed the students were asking more questions of each other, linking, comparing and commenting on different postings. By the end of three weeks discussion of some substance was taking place. The tutor observed that the quality of the students‘ contributions improved and their discussion was eventually closer to second year quality. Applied Chemistry Level 2 Here students were given a forensic report of a fictitious death. They were only given some very basic information and the scenario was deliberately very incomplete. The only thing the students could do was to request lab reports for more information and these were just made up in response to students‘ requests. The students thus had to engage in continual questioning and problem formulation and be thinking about the RESEARCH & TEACHING • TDU • 20 •

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