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