Research-Informed and Research-Rich Teaching
The University has developed guidance and support for all staff, including researchers, to consider how research informs teaching and how to engage students in research activity (both discipline specific and pedagogic research). Working with LTIC we are promoting the Research Informed Teaching strand of the Curriculum Design Toolkit published on our intranet, and we have developed two case studies of Research Informed Teaching.
Case study: Migration and community history
Dr Adam Crymble (History) has explained how students in the level 6 module Migrants & Minorities c. 1688-1850 use his monograph: 'at the cutting edge of research in migration and community history. They work with 300-year-old records from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s collection (Lambeth Palace Archives), which include the ‘Returns of Papists’, documents from 1767 that show house-by-house Catholic occupation in a West-London parish. Working with these tables of numbers, students are taught how to map the entries and conduct exploratory data analysis, seeking spatial patterns that are not otherwise visible. They then learn how to take their initial findings and formulate a research question that they can interrogate with the help of their map and additional research. They present their results as part of a 2,000-word essay and accompanying map.’ The best essays provide ‘genuinely new knowledge about street politics and patterns of minority community building in urban centres. Their findings are not only situated within the existing scholarly literature, but demonstrably extend it. Not only is the assignment research-led, but the students have in turn informed my thinking of the records, resulting in what might be described as teaching-led-research.'
They learn how to take their initial findings and formulate a research question that they can interrogate with the help of their map and additional research.
Case study: Exploring research topics and methods
Dr Angela Madden has worked ‘with students on our BSc (Hons) Nutrition and BSc (Hons) Dietetics programmes to help them progress from being consumers of research published by others to co-producers of robust research evidence that makes a contribution to their discipline. This starts at level 4 with students being orientated towards reliable information, where to find it and why they need to search it.’ At level 5 students 'also think about the methods used to generate data and the pros and cons associated.’ Planning for level 6 research projects involves selecting ‘research topics and methods that might suit their learning preferences: quantitative vs qualitative; obtaining ethical permission and recruiting participants vs analysing existing nutrient-related data that can be completed off site. A list of diverse project ideas is offered from which they request up to five choices. We recognise the project management skills they gain from running their own investigation – an employability asset for all even if they don’t plan a research career. […] The assessment is based on a 4,000-word manuscript that is prepared for journal submission. At the end of the module, we focus on research dissemination and the opportunity to submit abstracts to external meetings. […] Most years, between 3-10 abstracts are accepted by national conferences and one or two manuscripts are accepted as full peer reviewed papers from about 45 students.’
[We] help them progress from being consumers of research published by others to co-producers of robust research evidence that makes a contribution.
Teaching and demonstrating
Many research students and research staff have aspirations of an academic career.
Carrying out some teaching and demonstrating can be a rewarding way of gaining experience as well as developing important skills, such as:
- improving presentations
- enhancing subject breadth and expertise
- developing writing skills
- developing skills of oral debate and explanation
Teaching and demonstrating is organised through Schools of Study and research students should first approach their research supervisors about available opportunities.
Research staff should speak with their Principle Investigator or Dean of School about teaching experience.
The Researcher Development Programme (RDP) has sessions to guide and support researchers in teaching.
The Staff Development programme has the Continuing Professional Academic Development Programme (CPAD) available to research staff who are undertaking a significant amount of teaching activity.