What is research-led teaching? Multi-disciplinary perspectives

Miller, Alisa; Sharp, John and Strong, Jeremy, eds. (2012) What is research-led teaching? Multi-disciplinary perspectives. CREST/GuildHE.

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This origins of this book lie within a comment made by the Minister for Higher Education, David Willetts, in 2012, very much in the midst of recent fee reforms, when everyone involved in teaching, learning and research in the United Kingdom was considering, even more so than usual, the ‘value’ of a university education. In May 2012, the mission group Million+ debuted a report called Research that Matters, and hosted a launch event at the House of Commons in Westminster. There, the Minister suggested that, impressed as he was with the report’s emphasis on engaged research, he would like to see a similar report on Teaching that Matters – which Million+ subsequently produced in 2012. This focused on the student experience, and explored another aspect of the role Higher Education plays in changing lives. The debate surrounding how research, teaching and learning interact within the academy and the wider cultural landscape very much struck a chord with members of the Consortium for Research Excellence, Support and Training (CREST). CREST had been set up in 2009 as a sub-association of the representative body GuildHE, with seed funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) matched by institutional subscriptions, with the aim of drawing together researchers working in clusters located in small, specialist and regional Universities and University Colleges across the United Kingdom. These researchers were producing work of an excellent quality as determined by the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) benchmark in 2008 – while working within institutions where teaching and learning remained paramount. In these institutions, and for this group of individuals, research had never been treated as something apart from or above their work with students. Indeed it informed their teaching and practice, often leading to new and exciting approaches to how students (undergraduate and postgraduate) and their lecturers go about knowledge and skills creation. As the CREST work on cross and interdisciplinary collaboration and research development expanded – informed by a growing network of Vice Chancellors and Principals, Heads of Research, research-active staff and students – the desire to articulate a shared vision about the how research and teaching interacted grew. So did the need to explore the common links and questions posed by communities of practice across the CREST, including research and learning in the creative disciplines, humanities, education, the agricultural sciences, technology, sport, health and ageing. The result is this publication which addresses the open question of ‘what is research-led teaching?’ Here, as in CREST and GuildHE Members’ institutions, students and staff contribute to the debate about practice. They utilise educational theory to interrogate and improve their research and teaching. They provide examples of curricular innovation in the arts, sciences and humanities. They present case-studies illustrating the challenges and solutions arising within particular disciplines, relying on the constant discovery, self-examination and feedback implicit in research and teaching processes. The result is an exploration of ‘what research-led teaching is’ that is diverse, eclectic and ultimately collaborative. A flavour of this is presented in the three sections of this publication which follow. Despite the variety of approaches and disciplines represented in the publication, common themes emerge. All show that, despite the structural challenges facing UK Higher Education with respect to the funding of research and teaching, the academy, students and the wider society need to inform each other. Research and teaching both rely heavily on the principle of creativity in both staff and students; creativity combined with rigorous and innovate methods of inquiry. The skills that Higher Education must develop in staff and students alike are instilled by a process of critical enquiry and engagement involving questioning, exploration and communication that draws on resources from across the spectrum of research, teaching and learning. These skills are, in many cases, generated and amplified as a result of close collaboration with industries and communities, as well as through the interactions of colleagues across the Higher Education sector. Thus, it is the combined power of creativity, critique and application that is at the heart of research and teaching across the CREST and the sector. The discussion about how best to structure support for all activities undertaken within Universities and University Colleges will continue, but the ideals, practices and skills explored in this publication remain central to the academic and social ‘value’ proposition of Higher Education in the United Kingdom.

Item Type: Book
Depositing User: Sean Cope
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2012 10:40
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2016 21:27
URI: http://collections.crest.ac.uk/id/eprint/5215

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