Research Led Teaching at Cardiff University PCUTL Group Research Project Michael Arribas-Ayllon (SOCSI) Samuel Bigot (ENGIN) Jonathan Gosling (CARBS) Jonathan Lees (ENGIN) Luke Sloan (SOCSI)
Our Research Questions • Our research topic is ‘research-led teaching’ • Our specific research questions are: • What is research-led teaching at Cardiff University? • Is it a realistic vision? • How is it achieved in practice in different Schools?
Research Design • Semi-structured interviews (n = 10) • Devise standardised interview schedule • There are 2 comparative dimensions: • ‘Age’ or ‘seniority’ • ‘Discipline’ or ‘School’ • Interviews conducted across 3 Schools: • Engineering • Business • Social Science
The questions • What does RLT mean to you • Do you agree with CU RLT definition • How realistic is this vision? • Has the relationship between teaching and research changed during your career ? • What are the barriers to achieving RLT • Examples of how RLT has been incorporated into teaching • Does RLT help or hinder teaching? • Are prospective students attracted by RLT – why?
Definitions and disciplinary Differences Definitions of RLT “Publication led teaching” – SocSi “Connected to a research culture” – SocSi “Keeping material current” – Bus “Proof that theory works” - Bus “Teaching Research” - Engin “Problems without sols.” – Engin Junior Senior Engineering Business Social Sci. “The high-quality of the research at Cardiff contributes significantly to the quality of teaching at postgraduate and undergraduate levels …….” Do you agree with the CU definition of RLT agree no but but Not realistic yes “has the relationship changed during your career”
Definitions and disciplinary Differences Junior Senior Engineering “Does RLT help or hinder teaching” Business Social Sci. “Are prospective students attracted by RLT” Performs Informs Shapes helps syllabus yes workload both I wish hinders ability no Examples of RLT Students do Research & learn methods Using examples & scenarios Writing Text Books “Barriers to achieving RLT” conflict
Analysis • We conducted a simple thematic analysis based on semi-structured interviews and identified several ‘value-tensions’: • ‘teaching’ versus ‘research’ • ‘tradition’ versus ‘innovation’ • ‘autonomy’ versus ‘competition’ • We also identified one important cross-cutting theme: • ‘rhetoric’ versus ‘reality’
Core Tension: ‘Teaching’ vs ‘Research’ • TEACHING • Universally less prestigious • Quality of instruction a priority • Fostering meaningful learning experience, i.e. student-oriented “Research has more prestige and its effects are longer lasting in terms of legacy and reputation. Teaching is more transient yet pleasurable.” “RLT universities should attract good scholars but it doesn't mean they will be good teachers. Good scholarship and good teaching is not so much different skill sets but different values. Some scholars are potentially good teachers but they don't value teaching ” • RESEARCH • Universally more prestigious • Quality of knowledge a priority • Fostering meaningful academic identity, i.e. expert-oriented
Core Tension: ‘Teaching’ vs ‘Research’ “Research has more prestige and its effects are longer lasting in terms of legacy and reputation. Teaching is more transient yet pleasurable.” • TEACHING • Universally less prestigious • Quality of instruction a priority • Fostering meaningful learning experience, i.e. student-oriented “Research active academics should be well versed with what is happening in their field, and relevant concepts. This awareness helps to convey the gaps, industry based tools and techniques in a more meaningful way.” • RESEARCH • Universally more prestigious • Quality of knowledge a priority • Fostering meaningful academic identity, i.e. expert-oriented “Research, for the most part, makes you engage with experts and the best people in your field.”
Teaching Regimes: ‘Innovation’ vs ‘Tradition’ • INNOVATION • Knowledge is diffuse and personal • less amenable to team teaching • limited flexibility and transferability “So rather than teaching from the textbooks it's about new developments in the areas that you're aware of. Using your own research experience to illustrate points you're teaching.” • TRADITION • Knowledge is centralised and impersonal • amenable to team teaching • flexible and transferable “I don't think that it just happens by itself, it depends on how teaching is organised … Research-led teaching might be discouraged due to team teaching.”
Teaching Regimes: ‘Innovation’ vs ‘Tradition’ • INNOVATION • Knowledge is diffuse and personal • less amenable to team teaching • limited flexibility and transferability “Old notes, old handouts, legacy material passed on from academic to academic, no time to improve or update, so this statement is almost a lie.” “Historical and traditional way of doing things - 'passing the baton' with modules being inherited and regurgitated - no room or time for introducing new, research relevant material. Too many modules - no room for new and exciting modules.” • TRADITION • Knowledge is centralised and impersonal • amenable to team teaching • flexible and transferable
Intellectual Values: ‘Autonomy’ vs ‘Competition’ AUTONOMY • Fostering personal intellectual value, i.e. ‘scholarship’ • accrues status for an individual • process-oriented “Get the opportunity to tell the student about the research work that you are doing. For me, it has to be relevant ... RLT can give exposure to relevant, current research in the particular discipline. The danger otherwise is that we repeat outdated theory with no context.” • COMPETITION • Accruing institutional value, i.e. symbolic capital • accrues status for a university • output-oriented, e.g. REF “Research has become very very important. My teaching is more research informed than ever before. This shift is a confidence thing and a network thing.”
Intellectual Values: ‘Autonomy’ vs ‘Competition’ “RLT is not a realistic portrayal because not all universities have a research culture. RLT is a scarce entitlement in a competitive and hierarchical context of increasing differentiation between universities.” AUTONOMY • Fostering personal intellectual value, i.e. ‘scholarship’ • accrues status for an individual • process-oriented “Corporate line to advertise university to students. PR statement for public to read ‘come to Cardiff we're great’ - not the same as an honest assessment of teaching.” • COMPETITION • Accruing institutional value, i.e. symbolic capital • accrues status for a university • output-oriented, e.g. REF “NSS is increasingly important, moving into greater competition for students, recruit students rather than select. Use eminent scholars to sell the university. This is right as teaching is part of the job and pays research professors salaries.”
Cross-Cutting Theme: ‘Rhetoric’ vs ‘Reality’ • Teaching and research is zero sum game • Being a good researcher <> good teacher • Research-led teaching is a buzzword • Research-led teaching invokes two opposing realities: • an honest assessment of how to improve teaching and close the gap between teaching and research cultures • an exercise in producing symbolic capital to boast the competitiveness of universities in a climate of neo-liberal (consumer-led) economics
Not relevant to teaching RLT not an important priority Lack the skills to translate research into effective teaching material ‘Inheritance’ What is RLT? Time Pressures Workload and Performance Measurement Motivation and Meanings Tension Between Research and Teaching Recruitment based on research outputs Performance Measures Unclear definitions Low integration of research and teaching REF pressure to publish Not suitable for teaching Too ‘advanced’ Syllabus Constraints Shared Modules High level Theory Limited Autonomy Limited Applicability to ‘level’ Separate Research / Teaching Identities Teaching Allocation Team Teaching Structures Characteristics of Teaching Responsibilities Nature of Research Undertaken
Generates income for Traditional Ethos of Research-led University Student Numbers Research Excellence Prestige Virtuous Circle Attracts Reputation (Symbolic Capital) Barriers to Integrate Research and Teaching Promotes Create Value Tensions Problems Encountered in RLT Practice Lead to Implementation Vicious Circle Confusion over R & T Relationship Exacerbates
Many thanks for listening PCUTL Group Research Project Michael Arribas-Ayllon (SOCSI) Samuel Bigot (ENGIN) Jonathan Gosling (CARBS) Jonathan Lees (ENGIN) Luke Sloan (SOCSI)
Implications of Findings Overall there is a need to properly conceptualise RLT Teaching vs Research The disparity in recognition and prestige between teaching and research needs to be addressed or the gap between ‘researchers’ and ‘teachers’ will continue Tradition vs Innovation It takes time to do something new – if teaching is low status then why would people spend time on andragogic innovation? Autonomy vs Competition If RLT is more than a branding exercise then leading scholars need to teach – teaching finances the high level of autonomy that some researchers enjoy Rhetoric vs Reality Are we currently doing RLT or just saying that we do? Is it feasible for all teaching to be research-led? What about those of us on the ‘teaching and scholarship’ route?
These following slides just summaris the answers from questions(numbers represent where to position on scale on graphs)
What does RLT mean to you • Junior • EnginTeaching Research - not using research to enhance teaching • Engin A means of updating material, and illustration • Bus Keeping current - key issues and debates • SocSi Publication led teaching - conflict here • SocSiUsing own research as a tool to illustrate • Senior • Engin Enthuse and push research agenda, problems without solutions. • EnginWhere research informs teaching • Bus Proof that theory works! • SocSiConnected to other peoples research, involved in a culture of research • SocSiTaught by real experts
Do you agree with the University's definition of RLT? • Junior • Enginno - marketing tool only (-5) • Enginyes (5) • Bus yes, enthusiasm there, but done on best endeavors basis (+2) • SocSino - bad use of language (-5) • SocSiyes - but - potential to be true - needs careful planning (-4) • Senior • Enginyes - works well (+5) • EnginNo - no real definition there - student awareness is good. (-2) • Bus No - but intentions are good (-3) • SocSiNo - not all Unis can do it - only the privileged (-2) • SocSiYes - in principle - but mostly a marketing strategy (+2)
How realistic is the vision? • Junior • EnginNot realistic - enthusiastic researcher <> good lecturer (-3) • EnginRealistic - but hands-on access required (+3) • Bus realistic - but only with sufficient support and commitment (+3) • SocSiRLT Unis. should attract good scholars - doesn’t necessarily lead to good RLT. Value tension. Institutional issue. (0) • SocSirealistic - but research usually 'applied' to existing modules. (+1) • Senior • Enginrealistic - but with buy in (+1) • Enginrealistic - but with proper guidance (+1) • Bus realistic - but unlikely (-1) • SocSinot realistic - although this individual speaks general for HE sector (-3) • SocSinot realistoc- good scholars cant communicate, god teachers don’t have the research understanding. (-3)
Has the relationship between teaching and research changed during your career? • Junior • EnginNo - but difficult to gauge as new. Would like to see change. (-4) • EnginNo - teaching legacy material (-4) • Bus Yes - but previous Uni teaching focused - Lucky to have RLT! (+4) • SocSiYes - now teaching led research! Own research enhanced because of this. Think of teaching in a different way. (+5) • SocSiYes - RLT will become more difficult as HE continues to change (+3) • Senior • EnginNo. Always been the same. (-5) • Enginyes - just got better at integrating it. Enjoy teaching more as a result (+3) • Bus No - Not really - RLT just used as a buzz word these days (-5) • SocSiyes - research has informed and improved teaching (5) • SocSiyes - more emphasis on research (+1)
What are the barriers to achieving RLT? • Junior • Engin legacy material - passing the baton, reluctance to change, time - no time to do effectively, Research 'stars' too busy, workload - no space in curriculum, more active the researcher - less time – balance?, Leadership at school level. • Engin Well defined legacy material - no room for new material, workload - difficult to implement no matter how passionate • Bus Fixed syllabus / team teaching, Workload • SocSiTeaching/publishing conflict • SocSiFixed syllabus / team teaching • Senior • Engin Student ability - ability to answer questions without solutions, Enough staff being 'on- board’, additional effort required. • Engin The need to teach fundamentals. Reluctance to revise curricula radically • Bus Suitability of students, Class sizes - only deliverable to small groups, workload • SocSiInterdisciplinary nature of research - no strong identity • SocSi Ability of researchers to teach.
Examples of RLT • Junior • EnginUndergrad (year 3) projects • EnginUndergrad (year 3) projects • Bus examples and scenarios from own research - contextual • SocSiLiterature surveys • SocSiexamples and scenarios from own research - contextual • Senior • EnginYear 3 and 4 projects - developed into stand alone laboratoroes • EnginIllustrating linkage between research and fundamantal knowledge • Bus Studies on current issues - students adapt well, actual research methodology • SocSi textbook authorship • SocSi evidence based policy
Does RLT help or hinder teaching? • Junior • Enginreverse is true - teaching hinders research, this is the reality • Enginneutral, but hopeful • Bus helps with keeping content current • SocSi Neutral - pressure to publish probably means hinders. • SocSiHelps - makes content more engaging. • Senior • EnginHelps - enhances student experience • EnginHelps - adds significant value to 3rd year student projects • Bus Offers a better platform for explanation / learning • SocSihelps • SocSiNeutral - should be part of teaching anyway
Are prospective students attracted by RLT? • Junior • EnginNo - not sold at UCAS, opportunity missed (-4) • EnginYes - drawn by expertise (+3 • Bus yes - but not sure to what degree (+2) • SocSiyes - but students / parents aware that more research means less contact time. Price worth paying (+3) • SocSiyes - its all about prestige (+2) • Senior • Enginyes - bright students are aware of prestige (+3) • Enginyes - facilities are better - but need to make prospective students aware (2) • Bus No - not for undergrads (-4) • SocSiNo - not recognised as a quality by prospective students (-4) • SocSiNo - although books and textbooks have impact once students enrolled (-4)
Definitions and disciplinary Differences Senior Junior RESEARCH ACTIVITIES Engin Business Social Informs Performs Shapes Conflicts TEACHING PRACTICE TEACHING CONTENT What does RLT means to you?