Higher Education

, Volume 68, Issue 2, pp 167–183 | Cite as

The research-teaching nexus in nurse and teacher education: contributions of an ecological approach to academic identities in professional fields

  • Amélia Lopes
  • Pete Boyd
  • Nicola Andrew
  • Fátima Pereira


In developing graduates for the knowledge society lecturers in higher education may seek to strengthen links between research and teaching. Much of the previous work on the research-teaching nexus is within traditional universities and subject disciplines. In aiming to deepen understanding of the research and teaching nexus this paper focuses on the academic identities of higher education lecturers working in newer higher education institutions and in the professional fields of nursing and of teacher education. A qualitative study, informed by professional identity construction as an ecological concept, was conducted. The findings align with previous studies concerning similarities between lecturers in nurse and teacher education, but they contrast with previous studies concerning differences between these two groups of lecturers. Similarities include the priority given by professional educators to their responsibility for preparing new clinical practitioners; the research-led model as the lecturers’ main approach to the research-teaching nexus; and their difficulties in coping with current demands in academic work. Differences between the two groups of lecturers include the way that ‘practitioner identity’ is positioned within their current academic identities and the way that they position initial education within the wider professional field. These differences indicate different kinds of connections between teaching and research. The paper proposes an ecological approach to understanding the research-teaching nexus.


Research-teaching nexus Professional fields Nurse education Teacher education Academic identity Ecological approach 


  1. Andrew, N. (2012). Professional identity in nursing: Are we there yet? Nurse Education Today, 32(8), 846–849.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andrew, N., & Robb, Y. (2011). The duality of professional practice in nursing: Academics for the 21st century. Nurse Education Today, 31, 429–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Andrew, N., & Wilkie, G. (2007). Integrated scholarship in nursing: and individual responsibility or collective undertaking. Nurse Education Today, 27, 1–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bardin, L. (1994). Análise de conteúdo. Lisboa: Edições Setenta.Google Scholar
  5. Benavente, A. (1990). Escola, professoras e processos de mudança. Lisboa: Livros Horizonte.Google Scholar
  6. Blin, J.-F. (1997). Représentations, pratiques et identités professionnelles. Paris: L’Harmathan.Google Scholar
  7. Boyd, P. (2010). Academic induction for professional educators: Supporting the workplace learning of newly appointed lecturers in teacher and nurse education. International Journal for Academic Development, 15(2), 155–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Boyd, P., & Harris, K. (2010). Becoming a university lecturer in teacher education: Expert school teachers reconstructing their pedagogy and identity. Professional Development in Education, 36(1–2), 9–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Boyd, P., Harris, K., & Murray, J. (2011). Becoming a teacher educator: Guidelines for induction. Bristol: Subject Centre for Education ESCalate.Google Scholar
  10. Boyd, P., & Lawley, L. (2009). Becoming a lecturer in nurse education: The work-place learning of clinical experts as newcomers. Learning in Health and Social Care, 8(4), 292–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brew, A. (2001). Conceptions of research: A phenomenographic study. Studies in Higher Education, 26(3), 271–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Chetty, R., & Lubben, F. (2010). The scholarship of research in teacher education in a higher education institution in transition: Issues of identity. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26(4), 813–820.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Conway, J., & Elwin, C. (2007). Mistaken, misshapen and mythical images of nurse education: Creating a shared identity for clinical nurse educator practice. Nurse Education in Practice, 7, 187–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Doise, W. (1980). Levels of explanation in the European Journal of Social Psychology. European Journal of Social Psychology, 10, 213–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Doise, W. (2002). Da psicologia social à psicologia societal. Psicologia: Teoria e Pesquisa, 18(1), 027–035.Google Scholar
  17. Dubar, C. (1997). A socialização: Construção das identidades sociais e profissionais. Porto: Porto Editora.Google Scholar
  18. Findlow, S. (2012). Higher education change and professional-academic identity in newly “academic” disciplines: The case of nurse education. Higher Education, 63(1), 117–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Grant, K., & Wakelin, S. J. (2009). Re-conceptualising the concept of a nexus? A survey on 12 Scottish IS/IM academics’ perceptions of a nexus between teaching, research, scholarship and consultancy. Teaching in Higher Education, 14(2), 133–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Greenawald, D. A. (2010). Faculty involvement in undergraduate research: Considerations for nurse educators. Nursing Education Perspectives, 31(6), 368–371.Google Scholar
  21. Griffiths, R. (2004). Knowledge production and the research-teaching nexus: The case of the built environment disciplines. Studies in Higher Education, 29(6), 709–726.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Griffoen, D. (2013). Research in higher professional education: A staff perspective. Amsterdam: Gildeprint Drukkerijen.Google Scholar
  23. Hamilton, M., & Clandinin, J. (2011). Unpacking our assumptions about teacher educators around the world. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27, 243–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Healey, M., & Jenkins, A. (2006). Strengthening the teaching-research linkage in undergraduate courses and programs. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 107, 45–55.Google Scholar
  25. Houston, M. (2008). Teaching-research interface: Implications for practice in HE and FE. Bristol: Subject Centre for Education ESCALATE.Google Scholar
  26. Janhonena, S., & Sarjab, A. (2005). Emerging identity of finnish nurse teachers: Student teachers’ narratives in a group exam. Nurse Education Today, 25, 550–555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. L’Écuyer, R. (1988). L’analyse de contenu: Notions et étapes. In J.-P. Deslauriers (Ed.), Les Méthodes de la recherché qualitative (pp. 49–65). Quebec: Presses de l’Université du Québec.Google Scholar
  28. Lamote, C., & Engels, N. (2010). The development of student teachers’ professional identity. European Journal of Teacher Education, 33(1), 3–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Larson, M. (1977). The rise of professionalism: A sociological analysis. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  30. Locke, W. (2012). The dislocation of teaching and research and the reconfiguring of academic work. London Review of Education, 10(3), 361–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lopes, A. (1993). A identidade docente, contribuindo para a sua compreensão. Porto: Faculdade de Psicologia e de Ciências da Educação.Google Scholar
  32. Lopes, A. (2009). Teachers as professionals and teachers’ identity construction as an ecological construct: An agenda for research and training drawing upon a biographical research process. European Educational Research Journal, 8(3), 461–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lopes, A. (2013). Formação inicial de profissionais de ajuda e identidades dos formadores: o caso do ensino e da enfermagem. In V. Fartes, T. Caria, & A. Lopes (Eds.), Saber e formação no trabalho profissional relacional (pp. 141–152). Bahia: EDUFBA.Google Scholar
  34. Lopes, A., & Pereira, F. (2012). Everyday life and everyday learning: The ways in which pre-service teacher education curriculum can encourage personal dimensions of teacher identity. European Journal of Teacher Education, 35(1), 17–38. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/02619768.2011.633995SSCI.
  35. Marta, M., & Lopes, A. (2009). Experiências de trabalho no sector público e construção de identidades de educadoras de infância. In B. Silva, L. S. Almeida, A. Barca, & M. Peralbo (Eds.), Actas X congresso internacional galego-Português de Psicopedagogia (pp. 990–1005). Braga: CIEd-Universidade do Minho.Google Scholar
  36. Ozay, S. B. (2012). The dimensions of research in undergraduate learning. Teaching in Higher Education, 17(4), 453–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pereira, H. (2006). (Per)Cursos em enfermagem: Transições e identidade profissional. Uma abordagem partir dos resultados de investigação. In J. de Ávila Lima & Hélder Pereira (Eds.), Políticas públicas e conhecimento profissional: A educação e a enfermagem em reestruturação (pp. 165–184). Porto: Legis Editora.Google Scholar
  38. Robertson, J. (2007). Beyond the “research/teaching nexus”: Exploring the complexity of academic experience. Studies in Higher Education, 32(5), 541–556.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Robinson, M., & McMillan, W. (2006). Who teaches the teachers? Identity, discourse and policy in teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 22(3), 327–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Simons, M., & Elen, J. (2007). The “research-teaching nexus” and “education through research”: An exploration of ambivalences. Studies in Higher Education, 32(5), 617–631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Smith, C., & Boyd, P. (2012). Becoming an academic: The reconstruction of identity by recently appointed lecturers in nursing, midwifery and the allied health professions. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 49(1), 63–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sommers-Flanagan, R., & Sommers-Flanagan, J. (2007). Becoming an ethical helping professional. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons Inc.Google Scholar
  43. Visser-Wijnveen, G. J., Van Driel, J. H., Van der Rijst, R. M., Verloop, N., & Visser, A. (2010). The ideal research-teaching nexus in the eyes of academics: Building profiles. Higher Education Research and Development, 29(2), 195–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wood, D. (2009). Challenges to strengthening the teaching and research nexus in the first-year undergraduate curriculum. The International Journal of Learning, 15(12), 111–120.Google Scholar
  46. Zavalloni, M., & Louis-Guérin, C. (1984). Identité sociale et conscience: Introduction à l’égo-écologie. Montreal: Les Presses de l’ Université de Montreal.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amélia Lopes
    • 1
  • Pete Boyd
    • 2
  • Nicola Andrew
    • 3
  • Fátima Pereira
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculdade de Psicologia e de Ciências da Educação, Centro de Investigação e Intervenção EducativasUniversidade do PortoPortoPortugal
  2. 2.University of CumbriaCarlisleUK
  3. 3.Caledonian University of GlasgowGlasgowScotland, UK

Personalised recommendations