Pedagogic united unit

June 18, 1999

It can be argued that there is no reason to single out pedagogical research for special treatment in the research assessment exercise ("Big blow for teaching research in next RAE", THES, June 11). But the task group advising the funding councils appears to have lost sight of the broader policy agenda for higher education.

There is an increasing interest in the development of learning and teaching across the sector. Encouraging research into pedagogical practice goes with the grain of academe in a way that exhortations and pressures to develop pedagogy do not. If the RAE were to allow institutions to "bundle together" their pedagogical research and submit it under a separate unit of assessment, this would encourage them to: * Look corporately at what they were doing to understand and develop pedagogy

* Undertake research into theory and practice

* Disseminate knowledge, understanding and practice internally and externally

* Develop themselves further as learning organisations.

These policy-related advantages have been ignored. As a result, the task group's blinkered vision on the issue of pedagogical research has done higher education a disservice.

Mantz Yorke Professor of higher education Liverpool John Moores University

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