Teaching’s rock

January 12, 2017

In asking “Is teaching in research universities actually research-led?” (Opinion, 22 December), Holly Else addresses some pertinent questions. However, she misses out two important considerations.

First, everyone involved in teaching must underpin this with “research”. Most of it will not be the type that is submitted to the research excellence framework; but to treat “research” and “REF‑able” as synonyms is utterly misleading. It also denigrates the effort and importance of the broad conceptualisation of research that underpins teaching.

Second, research-led is only one of four widely recognised components of research-informed teaching – along with research-tutored, research-oriented and research-based. These embrace a wide range of materials taught in classes and a wide range of types of learning activity that students are asked to undertake as part of their studies. This adds up to a whole lot more than “I talk about my research in my lectures”.

Indeed, doing (REF‑able) research is not a prerequisite for most such activities. If lecturers are not underpinning their teaching materials with research activities, broadly defined, and if students are not being exposed to a wide range of research ideas and activities as part of their studies, that is when they are being short-changed.

Rob Ackrill
Nottingham Business School
Nottingham Trent University

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