Research-based teaching and learning: From national and institutional policies to practice
May 28-29, 2018
Research-based teaching is a topic of growing interest and prevalence in Europe and in HERE countries. It touches upon some of the key questions that higher education institutions and systems are facing, notably with regards to the mission of universities and their added contribution to learning, specifically through research-based teaching and research-oriented learning.
Research intensity, funding and expectations vary greatly between HERE countries and institutions. But as elsewhere, balancing the commitment to teaching and research is a challenge to both individuals and institutions: 1) Academic promotional structures tend to favour research careers over teaching, 2) In some countries and institutions, professors have a high teaching load and lack resources and time for research, which has consequences for education, 3) Teaching may not be sufficiently informed by or oriented towards research, 4) Learning fails to incorporate the transversal skills that research-based careers would require, and 5) New pedagogies are seen as of minor or no importance.
Another challenge, but also opportunity, is that research-oriented or -based teaching may entail very different approaches, depending on national, institutional and disciplinary cultures and traditions.
A recent report of the EUA , produced on the basis of a thematic working group with participants with different disciplinary, institutional and national backgrounds, has addressed this issue, and proposes the following working definitions:
- Research should be understood as a purposeful attempt to establish facts, conceive, discover, and/or advance new understanding through systematic investigation or the deployment of prototypes or innovations. Importantly, this means that in this definition of research does not only refer to its published output (papers, monographs, reports etc.), but encompasses aspects of innovation (e.g. methods, practices, processes) resulting from research experiences. Also, it should not be used interchangeably for any methodology using enquiry-based learning.
- Research-based learning (RBL) is an approach by which students are actively engaged in enquiry and research. The curriculum contains activities in which students conduct research or engage in authentic processes of enquiry. This can include the development of students’ research skills through engaging in research methods courses, or problem-/ project-based learning methods and include real cases of analysis and solution. While there are different interpretations and models of RBL, they all share an emphasis of active acquisition of skills and knowledge through research. Consequently, academics involved in RBL play the roles of mentor and research project leader, and also serve as examples of how to integrate research and teaching in academic life.
The linkages between the above may vary per institution, and merit further inspection.
In a study visit to the University of Milan, provided for the HERE in 2017, HERE explored how a specific research-intensive university approached the concept of research-based teaching. This visit left a number of open questions that HERE wished to continue to explore through Technical Assistance Missions and a dedicated seminar that would contrast different examples and approaches. The current seminar is being held with this purpose.
The learning outcomes of this seminar are:
- Clarify terminology and approaches when it comes to different facets of research-based teaching, so as to better explore institutional strengths and weaknesses in HERE countries.
- Explore good practices in institution-driven, strategic approaches on how to integrate research and education missions.
- Generate ideas for how to build capacity of faculty members to implement research-based teaching and create a research based learning environment. This includes both research-oriented didactics and teaching students to use investigative approaches.
- Analyze national frameworks, policies and funding that may help or hinder the development of research based teaching in diverse types of institutions.
This topic can be catered to different user groups and different levels of individuals in the HE sector. Given the diversity of the HERE in terms of profile, it is suggested that this seminar should focus on those who are in a leadership position in institutions, capable of implementing policies that may shape the teaching, learning and research environment. This seminar would also be open to HERE students and to ministry representatives, seeking to gain insight on the possibility national support structures and policies that could be implemented to advance research-based teaching.
References & Documents
- Healey, M., “Linking research and teaching: exploring disciplinary spaces and the role of inquiry-based learning”, in Barnette, R. (ed.), 2005, Reshaping the University: New Relationships between Research, Scholarship and Teaching. McGraw Hill/Open University Press, pp. 67-78.
- Dekker, H., and Walsarie Wolff, S., Reinventing Research-Based Teaching and Learning. Paper prepared in the framework of the European Forum for Enhanced Collaboration in Teaching (EFFECT) project, December 2016.
- EUA Thematic Group Report on links between research and teaching: here, pp. 4-8.
This report has been written based on discussions and experiences of 8 European universities. The document Contains recommendations on how universities could better address the connection/nexus between research and teaching, and implement research-based learning.
- Deike, W., Gess, Chr., and Russ, J., “Increasing Students’ Research Interests Through Research-Based Learning at Humboldt University”, in CUR Quarterly – Council on Undergraduate Research, Fall 2014, Vol. 335, n°1.
- Fung, D., A Connected Curriculum for Higher Education, 2017, UCL Press : to be downloaded for free, please click here.
The chapters 2 and 3 would be of particular interest for the topic. Also chapter 9 for an example of implementation at UCL (on the overall concept of connected curriculum).