Staff and students’ views about research-teaching links - a case study Charles BuckleyAcademic Development Unit, Bangor University, Gwynedd, Wales UK. • Emergent themes • The analysis generated 583 initial codes which were then further abstracted and organized into three themes. The author avoided early abstraction of data and attempted to preserve the essence of in-vivo codes some of which have been included in here for purposes of transparency.;“...in vivo is taken to represent a code based on a verbatim term uncovered in one or more data sources” (Buckley and Waring, 2009, 321). • 1. Researching to learn and learning to research (differing conceptions of research) • For the staff interviewed in this project the term ‘research’ tended to be associated with investigating unanswered questions and generating new knowledge. Staff vocabulary emphasized the need for some originality and tackling questions which had been relatively new or areas which were unexplored. In addition, research should be able to move knowledge forward by looking for answers that fill existing gaps. Student definitions focused more on personal inquiry for deeper understanding. Characteristic of many student answers was the idea that research involved personal endeavour. Research was thought to only have real purpose at postgraduate level. In addition, they sensed that the expectation for them to conduct independent research was introduced late in their programme with insufficient emphasis on a spiralled curriculum (their terminology). • For many of the staff, there was a sense that students needed to experience a range of research skills early in their undergraduate careers to emancipate them from dependency on staff • ...”because we need them to come up with their questions rather than us, we’ve got to move away from that question/answer, question/answer, we have to give them the confidence to ask their own questions and they’re quite good, they’re surprisingly quite good at identifying these things”. (Andrew, 4th March, 2008). • 2. Helping some of the tutors with their research • There was a clear indication from students and acknowledgement by the staff that true ownership and control of the research process lay with the tutors. In their responses about opportunities for research, students would usually make reference to staff projects and being allowed to support them. For example: “Sometimes just whether we’d like to come and help them out if they’ve got something going on” (Tim, 28th March, 2008). Introduction The research-teaching nexus is central to higher education as well as students’ intellectual development. Staff identity can be developed by departments focussing on the nexus (Jenkins, Healey and Zetter 2007). In the context of an increasing interest in developing firmer relationships between research and teaching, there has been an acknowledgement that understanding students’ experiences of research and their relationship with staff is fundamental (Brew 2007). This study set out to investigate these relationships and explore staff and student perceptions of research and teaching in the field of sport studies. The research-teaching nexus is complicated in the ways that integration of research and teaching varies by discipline (Colbeck 2007). Robertson and Blackler (2006) suggest that students in different disciplinary areas have varying ideas about research. Sport Studies and related subjects is one of the newer curriculum areas and have seen dramatic expansion in recent times. Although the term is interpreted slightly differently, sport studies is a multi-disciplinary subject area grounded in theory but with a strong emphasis on practical application. Speculations and recommendations This research highlighted the different perceptions between staff and students about the meaning of learning and research and particularly, the limited involvement students have in the research process, especially in the early stages of their undergraduate programme. Ramsden (2001) has argued that the main hope for realizing a genuinely student-centred undergraduate education lies in re-engineering the teaching-research nexus. Such a nexus need not be led by academics’ research interests, the research interests of students are just as valuable. Some aspects of the research-teaching nexus need to be given particular attention throughout the curriculum in a longitudinal and gradual way. These might include the development of certain competencies that are important in research (for example, learning to work together, communication and presentation skills). The author acknowledges that this study was small-scale and investigated staff and students from Sport Studies courses which typically borrow from a range of traditional disciplines such as psychology, sociology, physiology and education. Future research in this area might focus on institutional policies and procedures which actively promote or interfere with developing the research-teaching nexus. In addition, there is a need for further research which explores the dynamics of staff and student relationships within settings specifically designed to actively encourage links between research and teaching in different disciplines. In -vivo codes in the early stages of analysis reflected the subservient role often played by the students in the research process Some of these included: “Some make us read their research”, ”used their work”, “you have to do what tutors want”, “doing it for the staff”, “helping staff with their research” “they expect, but don’t give us specifics” “I’ve talked about her papers” and “being clear about their areas”. A third year student for example, talking about opportunities to research a topic for the final year dissertation stated: “I know with psychology, the lecturers and supervisors were pretty kind of strict about it, saying that if it wasn't in this particular area, we wouldn’t be able to take you on.” (Henry, 21st February, 2008). These differentials in power relations were also acknowledged by staff. For example, Geoff stated: “…others in the department that are obviously doing their research but I think their research takes them away from the students, which interestingly might be it takes them away from the audience they claim to be helping”. (19th February, 2008). • References • Braun, V., and Clarke, V. 2006. Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology 3, 77-101. • Brew, A. (2007, April). Research and teaching from the students’ perspective. Paper presented at: Research and Teaching: Closing the Divide. Paper presented at the International Colloquium in Winchester, England, UK. • Buckley, C. A., and M. J. Waring. (2009). The evolving nature of grounded theory: experiential reflections on the potential of the method for analysing children’s attitudes towards physical activity. International Journal of Social Research Methodology. 12 (4), 317-334. • Burr, V. (1995): An Introduction to Social Constructionism. London: Routledge • Colbeck, C. (2007, April). A cybernetic systems model of teaching and research nexus. Paper presented at: Research and Teaching: Closing the Divide. Paper presented at the International Colloquium in Winchester, England, UK. • Jenkins, A., M. Healey, and R. Zetter. (2007). Linking teaching and research in disciplines and departments. York: Higher Education Academy. • Ramsden, P. (2001). Strategic management of teaching and learning. In Improving student learning strategically, The proceedings of the 9th Improving Student Learning symposium, held in 2001 in Edinburgh. ed. Chris Rust Oxford: Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development. • Robertson, J. and Blacker, G. (2006). Students’ experiences of learning in a research environment. Higher Education Research and Development 25 (3), 215-229. 3. Developing our subject skills: active inquiry with the staff A clear preference was apparent amongst the student group for being active in the process of research. For example: “So I think the way that we did it on the psychology course worked better because you could go out there and you could do the research and then kind of understand better, why you then analyse the data in this way and why we collected the data in this way and to look on it that way rather than kind of sit and get all the theory and then go out and do it if you see what I mean, I preferred the way round that we did it, I just found that easier.” (Jenny, 4th March, 2008). Many emergent codes supported the notion of an action-based approach and being in the field “Prefer to be active researcher”, “interacting with others”, “integrate with class activity”, “like to do stuff”, “learn on the job” and “prefer learning in situ”. This is likely influenced by the subject discipline investigated in this project and the experiences of most students during their Sport Studies and Exercise Science courses. A common thread from both staff and student responses when discussing meanings associated with research and learning was that of learning being most effective when associated with action and the importance of application of research findings. Method Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a senior member of the sport staff and two final-year undergraduate students studying a sport-related degree in seven universities using purposive sampling between October 2007 and April 2008. Most institutions were ‘post ‘92’ universities, two in Wales, the rest in England. The sample provided a mix of research-intensive and teaching-led universities and half of the staff sample interviewed could be described as research active. Interviews lasted between 35 and 50 minutes and were transcribed verbatim. The data were processed using inductive thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke, 2006). Emergent latent themes were linked with the data themselves within a constructionist epistemological framework (Burr, 1995). The data analysis involved the following stages: For further information Dr. Charles Buckley, Academic Development Unit, Deiniol Building, Deiniol Road, Bangor University, LL57 2UX.. E mail; email@example.com Tel: 01248 383086 Please note that a version of this has been accepted for publication in Innovations in Education and Teaching International.