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The teaching/research nexus: Staff perspectives and organisational implications Ann Zubrick AAAJ Consulting Group Adjunct Professor University of Notre.

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Presentation on theme: "The teaching/research nexus: Staff perspectives and organisational implications Ann Zubrick AAAJ Consulting Group Adjunct Professor University of Notre."— Presentation transcript:

1 The teaching/research nexus: Staff perspectives and organisational implications Ann Zubrick AAAJ Consulting Group Adjunct Professor University of Notre Dame Australia

2 Some questions If you were asked to identify examples within Wollongong University of an effective teaching /research nexus, what would they be and where are they located? Are they examples of particular academic units or individuals, or of effective policy (e.g. for promotions or appointments)? What factors currently militate against developing a stronger T/R nexus? What steps might be taken to create a more effective nexus? How would you chart this change?

3 Views of the nexus: 1. correlational “That good teachers are researchers is a myth - at best, the association between ratings of undergraduate instruction and scholarly productivity is a positive one, with correlations in the.10 to.16 range.” Pascarella and Terinzini (1994) p.30

4 View 2: both are forms of learning “Learning is the vital link between research and teaching. It is a shared process in these two enterprises...This is not to say that research is wholly about learning, any more than facilitating learning is the whole of teaching...Teaching and research and correlated when they are co-related, i.e. when what is being related are two aspects of the same activity: learning.” Brew and Boud (1995) p. 268

5 View 3: both are forms of scholarship Ernest Boyer (1990) suggested this in his widely acclaimed monograph Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate where he described 1. The scholarship of teaching (or discourse) 2. The scholarship of application 3. The scholarship of integration (or synthesis) 4. The scholarship of discovery.

6 View 4 : a goal to realise “Universities need to set as a mission goal the improving of the nexus between research and teaching. The aim is to increase the circumstances in which good teaching and research have occasion to meet, and to provide rewards not only for better teaching or for better research but for demonstrations of the integration between teaching and research.” Hattie and Marsh, (1996) p.533

7 What does strengthening the nexus mean? Is the nexus necessarily strengthened by bringing research explicitly into teaching? (e.g.Reinventing undergraduate education?) Is it necessarily achieved when academics research their teaching? Does it occur when workload pressures lead individuals or groups to try to manage their work practices more productively? Is it an outcome of developing a shared philosophical framework that shapes academic policy and practices? How is the nexus understood within different university contexts and across the disciplines?

8 Some critical findings Need to establish extensive institutional dialogue about the nexus and what it means in situ. Need to link U/G programs to ongoing research at the edge of current knowledge (the warp and weft concept of T and R). Need to evaluate/encourage/ reward teaching in ways that affirm the inter-related nature of scholarship (getting off the see-saw). T/R relationships differ by discipline; and within the professions and they can involve community service.

9 Establishing dialogue about what the nexus means in situ. Universities vary in their shared understandings of what the nexus means in situ Developing appropriate forums and sharing conversations is a prime task for all leaders Disciplinary differences have to be appropriately accommodated

10 Linking U/G programs to ongoing research Students are curious about research and want to informed and involved Involvement takes a variety of forms and can be done from the very first stages As demand for courses changes, linking research interests to U/G teaching may involve some creative uses, staff assignment and development.

11 Rewarding teaching to affirm the inter- related nature of scholarship Ballarat requests staff to report their activities/achievements under Boyer’s four scholarships Curtin requests departments to identify ways in which they are enhancing the nexus as part of their bids for funding UWA has a portfolio and reward system for departmental excellence.

12 How T/R relationships differ by discipline Sociology at Ballarat Computer Science at Ballarat Law at UWA English at UWA Chemistry at Curtin Science and Mathematics Education Centre at Curtin

13 Disciplinary differences in the nexus “Teaching is experienced differently in the different disciplines; in some it may be largely divorced from research. In English and Law, there is a necessity to align teaching and research interests. Here scholarship provides a bridge between both, and, particularly in English, the boundary between research and scholarship is fluid. It is important that these differences are noted in workload allocation, staff-student ratios, and in funds for research. Moses 1990 (p. 373).”

14 Examples of where the nexus is strongest Where Departments/ Schools have active and effective review processes for staff that focus on the nexus where there is active scholarly mentoring and team teaching; interdisciplinary activity where comprehensive definitions of scholarship are put into action where U/G students can undertake well- supervised ‘real world’ projects.

15 Some conditions that weaken the nexus tacitly accepting a T/R dichotomy (e.g. in promotions policies and costing models) poor assessment tools for evaluating teaching; e.g. excluding peer assessments defining and measuring research narrowly; rewarding quantity rather than quality; attenuated concepts of scholarship; inflexible recognition/reward schemes

16 Some conditions that weaken the nexus (cont’d) Research-only centres Casual/teaching-only staff High teaching loads and large classes High research supervision loads Strong discipline boundaries Isolation from one’s discipline

17 Differences across and within universities Cyclic considerations within institutions and the disciplines e.g. local institutional conditions and cyclic disciplinary ones Life cycle considerations of individual academics Staff support systems Flexibility of reward systems

18 Conclusions There are several strands in the T/R nexus These vary both across and within institutions Epistemology is intricated in policy Institutions, their staff and students benefit when universities recognise, value and reward diversity and quality in T & R But moving from potentialities to alignment of policies with our practices is a challenge for institutions and staff

19 Some final points for reflection What steps might be taken at Wollongong to create a more effective nexus? If you are focussing on strengthening the nexus, where are your current policy strengths? What factors weaken the nexus at Wollongong? To what extent do you within this University community share understandings of the nexus within Wollongong - within Faculties, within Departments and disciplines? How can the necessary dialogues be undertaken or developed further for greater understanding of the value of a stronger nexus?

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