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Linking research and teaching: Are research-active staff members different teachers?

Abstract

In the global competition of higher education, research intensity has become the key indicator of the quality of universities. This raises the issue of how, and whether at all, a research-intensive environment offers a better learning experience for students. One potential answer to this dilemma lies in research-related teaching. In this empirical paper we examine whether research-active staff members are indeed different teachers and whether they are more likely to use research-related teaching practices. Using data from a national survey of academic staff in Estonia (N = 679), we observe that research-active teachers are more likely to incorporate research outcomes into teaching, to engage students in research groups, and co-publish with students. The effects vary across disciplines, types of institutions, and different practices. Furthermore, it is not only the research intensity of the teachers that matters, but it is their intrinsic interest in both teaching and research that seems to contribute most to the use of such practices. The results show the benefit of protecting the research-teaching nexus for individual academics and the need to cultivate a commitment to both research and teaching in order to capitalise on the research-intensive environment.

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Correspondence to Eve Mägi.

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Mägi, E., Beerkens, M. Linking research and teaching: Are research-active staff members different teachers?. High Educ 72, 241–258 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-015-9951-1

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Keywords

  • Research-related teaching
  • Research-led teaching
  • Research–teaching relationship
  • Teaching practice
  • University teaching