How does teaching and research integrate and overlap within the higher education space? And why is there so often conflict between these two pillars of the sector?
Teaching and research should go hand in hand within the global higher education landscape.
Unfortunately, teaching and research frequently compete against each other for time and resources, with some arguing that they are incompatible.
Ideally, research universities would communicate the insights and knowledge they acquire from cutting-edge research directly to their students, but this may not be the case.
For years, many believed that active researchers were the most effective teachers. However, it was discovered in multiple studies that the correlation between high-quality teaching and research excellence was essentially nonexistent.
Instead, universities were urged to explore how teaching and research can be more effectively integrated, ensuring that one doesn’t overshadow the other.
This has resulted in some institutions shifting towards a more research and inquiry-based learning environment, while others argue that teaching and research should be treated as unrelated entities.
One clear issue is that many believe that the skills required for high-quality teaching are quite different to the skills needed to pursue research excellence.
This places a significant strain on professionals who are expected to be both active researchers and active teachers, with their individual skills perhaps lending them to one more than the other.
On the plus side, this could result in staff that are more passionate and enthusiastic about their work, teaching content that is updated continuously from cutting-edge research, and the prestige of renowned researchers as teachers.
However, this could also lead to teachers that prioritize their research over teaching, students feeling disengaged and removed from the research, and a lack of face time with teachers due to their split priorities.
One study highlighted the fact that students firmly believed that the focus should be placed on teaching, with the majority of those surveyed stating that a lecturer’s teaching ability is more important than their research profile.
Additionally, surveyed students preferred their lecturers to be “at the forefront of teaching theory and practice, rather than at the forefront of their particular research fields.”
In the 2019 International Student Survey, 57% of prospective international students picked high-quality teaching as the most important factor when choosing a university.
Whatever approach your institution takes to the teaching-research nexus, it’s clear that higher education professionals and students will have to work together to create a new normal.
To explore the future of the teaching-research nexus and other pressing higher education issues, register now for QS-MAPLE 2020, an upcoming QS event held from the 1-3 March in Manama, Bahrain.