Research-Intensive Teaching: the way forward? (Ella Mortlock)

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As a Russell Group University, we frequently define ourselves by the quality of our research. But how often do we pride ourselves in the quality of our research-intensive teaching? You may have read Caroline Hetherington’s recent blog post highlighting the student perspective on research-intensive teaching. She reflects on how little exposure or connection to research our current students feel they have.

In a recent STEM workshop at the University, hosted by the Collaborative Teaching Laboratory project, colleagues were lined up in order of graduation date and were asked how much they were exposed to research-intensive teaching as undergraduates.  There was a marked difference between the more recent and less recent graduates;  more recent graduates expressed that they had experienced very little exposure to research in the teaching they received, whereas those who graduated in the 1970’s and 80’s were able to give numerous examples of their research-intensive learning.

Why is it that the majority of students nowadays are not exposed to (or do not recognise that they are exposed to) the same levels of research-intensive teaching as they were 30 plus years ago?  Is it because student numbers have increased and teaching is being ‘diluted’? Is it because research and teaching have gradually become less symbiotic?  The workshop really demonstrated our belief mantra: That an investment in research is an investment in our students. So let’s be bold and challenge the status quo!

The CTL is championing our responsibility as STEM educators to ignite our students’ imaginations, enthusiasm and passion for their subject. And let’s not forget TEF on the horizon. Gold Awards will be given to universities who ‘consistently and frequently engage [students] with developments from the forefront of research, scholarship or practice, and are consistently and frequently involved in these activities’.

In our workshop, we explored manageable ways that teaching can align with TEF definitions of research-intensive teaching. These can be applied to any discipline, and some of the top techniques include:

  1. Parachuting top lecturers into first year lectures
  2. Research tutorials given by inspiring academics
  3. Critiquing research papers
  4. Research based team challenges

To find out more about the Collaborative Teaching Laboratory project and our Research-Intensive STEM workshop contact, and visit:

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