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Undergraduate Research and Inquiry in New Zealand References The System’s Organisation of Teaching and Research The NZ tertiary education sector includes.

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Presentation on theme: "Undergraduate Research and Inquiry in New Zealand References The System’s Organisation of Teaching and Research The NZ tertiary education sector includes."— Presentation transcript:

1 Undergraduate Research and Inquiry in New Zealand References The System’s Organisation of Teaching and Research The NZ tertiary education sector includes universities, institutes of technology / polytechnics (ITPs), Wānanga (reflect Māori tradition and custom), and private providers. The distinctiveness of each of these institutions is prescribed in legislation and Government strategy. The Government’s Tertiary Education Strategy ( ) ‘steers’ the strategic direction of the sector and stipulates priorities for student enrolment, support and achievement; programme focus, relevance and responsiveness; and research emphases. Government funding for institutions is influenced by their alignment with the strategy. Research is a required activity in universities and Wānanga. It is optional but prevalent in ITPs. A portion of Government funding is contingent on assessment of institutional research activity and outputs (Performance Based Research Fund). Concerns are expressed about the valuing of research on teaching and learning within this funding regime. Rachel Spronken-Smith (University of Otago), Neil Haigh (Auckland University of Technology) & Billy O’Steen (University of Canterbury) New Zealand aims to have “a research culture within which undergraduates learn to take a research-based approach to their lifelong educational development” (Ministry of Education 2002, 60). Summary New Zealand has a clear legislative framework for close links between research and teaching Recent research has showcased examples of learning through inquiry and undergraduate research, as well as adding to the theoretical base Although the government has promoted mainstreaming of inquiry and undergraduate research, the practice is at best patchy across universities, but more strongly embedded in polytechnics Encouragingly, the adoption of inquiry and undergraduate research is becoming more widespread in universities Cultural and National Policy Conceptions There is a legislative mandate for undergraduate research and inquiry in New Zealand tertiary education institutions (Education Amendment Act, 1990): i...principal aim (higher education)... to develop intellectual independence and ii (required for universities).... research and teaching are closely interdependent. Intellectual independence is manifest when students’ learn as researchers (Haigh,1994). The intellectual weaning process begins in undergraduate programmes. One variant of interdependence of research – learning – teaching is inquiry/research-based student learning – the focus of a recent national project (Spronken-Smith et al., 2008). The mandate is endorsed in the Government’s ‘Tertiary Education Strategy’ – “links between research and teaching... must be strengthened.” Institutional academic audits conducted by New Zealand Universities Academic Audit Unit recurrently focus on the presence of links. What the Research Revealed ‘Inquiry-based learning’ (IBL) - used to capture a range of student- centred curriculum experiences that develop inquiry and research skills. IBL can include structured (heavily scaffolded by teacher), guided, and open (student-led, lightly scaffolded) forms, as well as focussing on either existing information or in a discovery mode (see the work of Levy, 2009) (Figure 1). Whilst arguably all forms of IBL lead to enhanced student learning outcomes, learning through open, discovery-oriented IBL develops the best outcomes (Spronken-Smith et al., 2010; Spronken-Smith & Walker 2010). However, more structured and guided forms are useful to progressively develop inquiry and research skills. Ten cases of IBL, covering a range of disciplines and stages of study were showcased (see learning).http://akoaotearoa.ac.nz/projects/inquiry-based- learning A current study is using the survey developed by Turner et al. (2008) to explore undergraduate experiences of research and inquiry in a southern university. How the Research is Being Considered for Practice The research from the 10 cases of IBL and the resulting findings about the different forms of IBL has been shared through papers, presentations, and collaborations. One collaboration has occurred with the Physiotherapy programme at Auckland University of Technology and their efforts to incorporate IBL principles into a revised curriculum. Their plan is to categorise each course across the curriculum with regard to the structured, guided, or open approaches. In that way, both students and instructors would have a map of the progression of IBL teaching strategies and learning outcomes throughout the course of study. Massey is introducing a new degree in Natural Sciences, and this degree will be based around the progressive development of inquiry and research skills. Also at Massey, the Veterinary Science Programme are seeking to overhaul their curriculum to incorporate more active learning approaches including learning through inquiry. In both cases, assistance was sought from our team to help facilitate curriculum planning discussions. Haigh, N. (1994). Promoting intellectual independence: A legislative catalyst. Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia, Canberra. Levy, P. (2009). Inquiry-based learning: a conceptual framework. Centre for Inquiry-based Learning in the Arts and Social Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK. Available at: (accessed August 3, 2009). Ministry of Education (2002). Tertiary Education Strategy 2002/07. Wellington, Ministry of Education. Spronken-Smith, R.A., Walker, R., Batchelor, J., O’Steen, B., Angelo, T. (2010). Evaluating student perceptions of learning processes and intended learning outcomes under inquiry approaches. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education (in press). Spronken-Smith, R. and Walker, R. (2010). Can inquiry-based learning strengthen the links between teaching and disciplinary research? Studies in Higher Education, 35(6): Spronken-Smith, R.A., Walker, R., Batchelor, J., O’Steen, B., Angelo, T., Matthews, H. (2008). Inquiry-based learning. Prepared for the New Zealand Ministry of Education, July Available at: (accessed August 3, 2010).http://akoaotearoa.ac.nz/projects/inquiry-based-learning Turner, N., Wuetherick, B., Healey, M.(2008). International perspectives on student awareness, experiences and perceptions of research: implications for academic developers in implementing research-based teaching and learning. International Journal for Academic Development,13(3): Figure 1: Conceptual model showing the relation between focus of learning, level of independence (or conversely scaffolding). The darker shading is indicative of both the potential for a strong research-teaching nexus and enhanced student learning outcomes (see Spronken-Smith and Walker 2010; Spronken-Smith et al., 2010)


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