The Society for Research into Higher Education

Ian Kinchin

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Research-teaching links: what do students think?

By Ian Kinchin

Looking at university web sites, it is clear that many institutions are offering “unique” student experiences for identical reasons. In particular a research-informed teaching and learning environment. The convergence on this particular selling point is quite striking despite the lack of clarity on what this means or what the evidence is for this being the best way forward. It seems that universities are all heading along the same road without questioning whether there are alternative perspectives.

I find the comments made nearly 50 years ago by West (1966: 767) particularly interesting in this regard, suggesting an alternative model for university teaching. He states:

Most teachers understand the importance of developing the students’ capacity for critical thinking and self-education, but most of us are too busy telling them what we know to get around to showing them how we learn. Possibly they would gain more from watching us learn than from watching us teach.”

Imagine a university without a “teaching curriculum”, but a “learning curriculum” in which the students study the activities of particular researchers in order to piece together the nature of their chosen subject. Continue reading


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Policy and Funding in Australia : If you repeat something often enough, can it become ‘the truth’?

By Marcia Devlin

In his poem, ‘The Hunting of the Snark’, Lewis Carroll points out that if you repeat something often enough, it can become ‘the truth’.

     ‘Just the place for a Snark!’ the Bellman cried,

As he landed his crew with care;

Supporting each man on top of the tide

                                                    By a finger entwined in his hair.

                                                    Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:

                                                    That alone should encourage the crew.

                                                    Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:

                                                   What I tell you three times is true.’

I wonder whether some Australian media commentators and politicians have a copy of this poem next to their beds. It is possible that this poem is where they got the idea to repeat statements and assumptions related to a connection between low Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) scores and lower university education standards over and over again until they become accepted, unquestioned knowledge. Continue reading