In this study, we aim to deepen our understanding of how biology and medicine undergraduate students experience the relationship between teaching and research. Employing a phenomenographic approach, 34 final-year students of a Bachelor in Biological Sciences and a Bachelor of Medicine, from one research-oriented Chilean university, were interviewed. Four categories of description emerged from interviews analysis. These categories range from experiencing teaching and research as disconnected activities to experiencing the relationship between teaching and research as a space to develop higher order thinking skills. Additionally, three dimensions of variation presented a more detailed picture of their experience: role of students in the research process, teaching focus and learning spaces where research is experienced. Also, when comparing the students’ experiences, we found that medicine students, unlike those of biology, do not experience teaching and research as disconnected activities (category A). Besides, although both biology and medicine students experience the relationship between teaching and research as a space to develop thinking skills (category D), there is a difference between them regarding the type of skills that they can develop: analysis and problem-solving in biology and the ability to make informed decisions and raise scientific questions in medicine. These results provide useful insights on how students experience teaching and research activities and its relationship. This might prove useful to the university community to improve the way in which teaching and research are linked in the curriculum of undergraduate programmes, particularly in the biological sciences.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) (2011). Vision and change in undergraduate biology education: a call to action. Washington, DC: AAAS. http://visionandchange.org/files/2011/03/Revised-Vision-and-Change-Final-Report.pdf.
Åkerlind, G. S. (2005). Phenomenographic methods: A case illustration. In J. A. Bowden & P. Green (Eds.), Doing developmental phenomenography (pp. 103–127). Melbourne: RMIT University Press.
Åkerlind, G. S. (2012). Variation and commonality in phenomenographic research methods. Higher Education Research and Development, 31(1), 115–127. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2011.642845.
Barnett, R. (2000). Realizing the university in an age of supercomplexity. Buckingham: The Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.
BC (Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University) (1998). Reinventing undergraduate education: a blueprint for America’s research universities. State University of New York - Stony Brook. http://www.niu.edu/engagedlearning/research/pdfs/Boyer_Report.pdf.
Becher, T. (1994). The significance of disciplinary differences. Studies in Higher Education, 19(2), 151–161. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079412331382007.
Brew, A. (2006). Research and teaching: beyond the divide. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Buckley, C. A. (2011). Student and staff perceptions of the research-teaching nexus. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 48(3), 313–322. https://doi.org/10.1080/14703297.2011.593707.
Coate, K., Barnett, R., & Williams, G. (2001). Relationships between teaching and research in higher education. Higher Education Quarterly, 55(2), 158–174. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2273.00180.
Feldman, K. A. (1987). Research productivity and scholarly accomplishment of college teachers as related to their instructional effectiveness: A review and exploration. Research in Higher Education, 26(3), 227–298. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00992241.
Galbraith, C. S., & Merrill, G. B. (2012). Faculty research productivity and standardized student learning outcomes in a university teaching environment: a bayesian analysis of relationships. Studies in Higher Education, 37(4), 469–480. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2010.523782.
GMC (General Medical Council) (2009). Tomorrows doctors. Outcomes and standards for undergraduate medical education. London: General Medical Council. http://www.gmc-uk.org/Tomorrow_s_Doctors_1214.pdf_48905759.pdf.
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. https://doi.org/10.1080/0307507042000287212.
Hajdarpasic, A., Brew, A., & Popenici, S. (2015). The contribution of academics’ engagement in research to undergraduate education. Studies in Higher Education, 40(4), 644–657. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2013.842215.
Hattie, J., & Marsh, H. W. (1996). The relationship between research and teaching: a meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 66, 507–542. https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543066004507.
Healey, M. (2005). Linking research and teaching exploring disciplinary spaces and the role of inquiry-based learning. In R. Barnett (Ed.), Reshaping the university: new relationships between research, scholarship and teaching (pp. 30–42). Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Healey, M., &Jenkins, A. (2009). Developing undergraduate research and inquiry. York: The Higher Education Academy. http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/documents/resources/publications/developingundergraduate_final.pdf.
Horta, H., Daurtel, V., & Veloso, F. M. (2012). An output perspective on the teaching-research nexus: an analysis focusing on the United States higher education system. Studies in Higher Education, 37(2), 171–187. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2010.503268.
Jenkins, A., Blackman, T., Lindsay, R., & Paton-Saltzberg, R. (1998). Teaching and research: student perspectives and policy implications. Studies in Higher Education, 23(2), 127–141. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079812331380344.
Levy, P., & Petrulis, R. (2012). How do first-year university students experience inquiry and research, and what are the implications for the practice of inquiry-based learning? Studies in Higher Education, 37(1), 85–101. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2010.499166.
Lindsay, R., Breen, R., & Jenkins, A. (2002). Academic research and teaching quality: the views of undergraduate and postgraduate students. Studies in Higher Education, 27(3), 309–327. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075070220000699.
Marton, F. (1986). Phenomenography: a research approach to investigating different understandings of reality. Journal of Thought, 21(3), 28–49.
Marton, F., & Booth, S. (1997). Learning and awareness. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Marton, F., & Pang, M. F. (2006). On some necessary conditions of learning. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 15(2), 193–220. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327809jls1502_2.
Marton, F., & Pong, W. Y. (2005). On the unit of description in phenomenography. Higher Education Research and Development, 24(4), 335–348. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360500284706.
NRC (National Research Council) (2003). BIO2010: Transforming undergraduate education for future research biologists. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. Retrieved from http://download.nap.edu/cart/download.cgi?andrecord_id=10497.
Onyura, B., Baker, L., Cameron, B., Friesen, F., & Leslie, K. (2016). Evidence for curricular and instructional design approaches in undergraduate medical education: an umbrella review. Medical Teacher, 38(2), 150–161. https://doi.org/10.3109/0142159X.2015.1009019.
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (2013). Investigación en la UC. Santiago: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.
Robertson, J., & Blackler, G. (2006). Students’ experiences of learning in a research environment. Higher Education Research and Development, 25(3), 215–229. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360600792889.
Savery, J. R. (2006). Overview of problem-based learning: definitions and distinctions. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning, 1(1), 9–20. https://doi.org/10.7771/1541-5015.1002.
Schouteden, W., Verburgh, A., & Elen, J. (2016). Teachers’ general and contextualised research conceptions. Studies in Higher Education, 41(1), 79–94. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2014.914915.
Trigwell, K. (2000). A phenomenographic interview on phenomenography. In J. Bowden & E. Walsh (Eds.), Phenomenography (pp. 34–46). Melbourne: RMIT University Press.
Trigwell, K., & Prosser, M. (2009). Using phenomenography to understand the research-teaching nexus. Education as Change, 13(2), 325–338. https://doi.org/10.1080/16823200903234877.
Turner, N., Wuetherick, B., & Healey, M. (2008). International perspectives on student awareness, experiences and perceptions of research: implications for academic developers in implementing research-based teaching and learning. International Journal for Academic Development, 13(3), 199–211. https://doi.org/10.1080/13601440802242333.
Zamorski, B. (2002). Research-led teaching and learning in higher education: a case. Teaching in Higher Education, 7(4), 411–427. https://doi.org/10.1080/135625102760553919.
The first author is a CONICYT Ph.D. grantee (CONICYT-PCHA/Doctorado Nacional/2013-21130423). This work was funded by the National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT) through the grant CONICYT-PCHA/Doctorado Nacional/2013-21130423 and grant CONICYT-FONDECYT Regular 1130982.
The authors declare they have received the following funding for supporting the work presented in this paper: grant CONICYT-FONDECYT Regular 1130982 and the first author is a CONICYT Ph.D. grantee (CONICYT-PCHA/Doctorado Nacional/2013-21130423). Both grants are provided by the National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT).
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
About this article
Cite this article
Olivares-Donoso, R., Gonzalez, C. Biology and medicine students’ experiences of the relationship between teaching and research. High Educ 76, 849–864 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-018-0241-6
- Teaching-research nexus
- Undergraduate students
- Higher education