Linking teaching & research: What implications follow?

Linking teaching & Research

linking_teachingThe English subject community as a whole must go on making their case for the linking of research and teaching in any and every forum to which they have access. As suggested above, that case cannot be allowed to go by default. Community and Subject Centre must be proactive. In an era of ‘evidence-based practice’ it behoves us where possible to produce evidence for the importance of teaching taking place in a research-rich environment.

We found that only about 50% of institutions had any statement … resembling a commitment or objective in their strategies that research should have any impact on teaching, and a much smaller proportion (approximately 10%) identified in any detail the mechanisms by which this might be achieved. (Interactions Between Research, Teaching, and Other Academic Activities, Bristol: JM Consulting for HEFCE 2000)

The Case for Linking Research and Teaching

The elements of the case must include:

  • The significance of a research-rich environment for undergraduate study – the requirement in Benchmark and institutional L&T strategies for L3 students to acquire skills as researchers would be particularly vulnerable were staff themselves not to be actively engaged
  • The very real possibility of short-changing AWP students who find themselves in a university whose governing assumptions are that knowledge is created somewhere else
  • The effects on staff recruitment and motivation – thus ultimately on the student experience – of inadequate access to research opportunities
  • The need for even the more practice-based subjects (Media Production, Creative Writing) to be taught in an environment informed by critical research
  • The need to carry on and develop discipline-based pedagogic research.

A possible framework

Here is a schematic view of what students need to internalise through learning conversations with those who research the subject. Such activity would be focused especially (though not exclusively) through for example Level 3 dissertations and special topics.

  • The scope and subject of the inquiry (as process rather than as finished product).
  • The discourse in which the inquiry is conducted – lexis, syntax, and cohesion.
  • The forms of argument and critique employed.
  • The kinds of evidence adduced.
  • The permeable boundaries of relevance.
  • Some sense of the pressure and potential relevance of adjacent disciplinary fields.

They need to ..

  • Be able to contextualise knowledge and to transfer it across contexts.
  • Invent, use and acknowledge the limitations of appropriate analogies.
  • Be able to move between different interpretations and perspectives.
  • Be reflexively aware of their own epistemological beliefs.
  • Be conscious of the potential challenges to which a dominant interpretative version is subject.