22 SES 14 A, Currriculum Development in Higher Education
Research is an important part of higher education. According to the Humboldtian tradition, the university as an academic institution should be educating through research. Simons and Elen (2007) distinguish the idealistic approach to research and teaching, which encompasses Humboldt, from the functional approach, most familiar for the research-teaching nexus. The idealistic approach focuses on higher education as an institute for morally and intellectually improving an individual, as opposed to the functional approach, which focuses on the role of higher education in society.
Simons and Elen (2007, p. 618) quote a European report that states that “research competencies are useful for professionals in a knowledge society”. The notion that research competencies are important for professionals is an example of the functional approach to research and teaching in higher education. To be fully equipped to teach students research competencies, research and teaching should be related, which has additional benefits. So will combining research and teaching improve teaching (Heggen, Karseth and Kyvik 2010), and has research-led teaching improved students’ motivation and performance (Brew, 2003; Healy & Jenkins, 2015).
A lot of studies into the effects of research in teaching (e.g. the aforementioned studies by Brew and Healy & Jenkins) are conducted in research intensive universities. However the functional approach focuses on the role of all higher education institutions in society. Additionally, decisions made in the context of the Bologna Process, focusing on the comparability of higher education qualifications across Europe, have increased the similarities between different types of higher education institutions. Therefore, the universities of applied sciences in the Netherlands, which were traditionally focused on professional and vocational education are expanding their focus to include research. These universities of applied sciences have started to incorporate research into their curricula around the turn of the millennium, following an agreement with the Dutch Ministry of Education (2015). Even though the process of integrating research into the curriculum at universities of applied sciences has been ongoing for almost twenty years, educational programmes in higher vocational education are still struggling with the balance between research and professionalism in their curricula (Griffioen, 2013; Markauskaite & Goodyear, 2017; Young & Muller, 2014). So far it remains unclear what rationale they apply when considering to (further) implement ‘research’ in their educational programmes.
The rationale for research in the curriculum answers the question why research should be integrated in the curriculum. According to van den Akker’s (2003) model for curriculum design, the rationale should be the central point of a coherent curriculum. Only after a clear rationale is defined can curricular developers answer the questions what and how research should be integrated in the curriculum. Hence, the rationale for implementing research into higher vocational education programmes is essential for the constructive alignment of a designed curriculum. Kessels (1999) suggests that the internal and external consistency of a curriculum are measures of curricular quality. On top of that, a coherent curriculum helps students to make optimal learning progression according to Fortus and Krajick (2012), further emphasising the importance of a coherent curriculum with a clear rationale.
The current paper investigates which rationales on the role of research in the curriculum are formulated by educational programmes at a university of applied sciences. Additionally it is considered how these rationales change over time. Since research integration is a fairly recent obligation, it can be expected that the rationale on the role of research in the curriculum will be honed over time.
The central question in this study is: “How did the rationale on research in the curriculum change between 2015 and 2018?”
To investigate this research question, a document analysis was conducted. The rationales on research in the curriculum were investigated by analysing critical self-reports. These self-reports are written in the context of quality assurance, which educational programmes need to pass in order to achieve government funding and civil effect of certificates (nvao.com). Included in this study were self-reports for internal audit, and self-reports written for external accreditation of all bachelor programmes of a single, Dutch university of applied sciences. Each educational programme needs to provide both reports within each six year time lapse. The reports reflect on four standards of the Dutch Flemish Accreditation Organisation (NVAO), which are: 1. The intended qualifications 2. The educational environment 3. Assessment 4. Realised qualifications For the period between 2010 and 2015, 62 self-reports of as many bachelor programmes were included. The documents for the 2016-2018 period have been gathered in January 2019. All self-reports were analysed in a four step process. During the first step, all documents were scanned and information regarding 'why' research was included in the curriculum was highlighted. Considering the aim of this study, the rationale of research in the curriculum, the ‘why’ is the most appropriate question. In the second step all highlighted sections were coded using a grounded approach (Charmaz, 2006). After this grounded coding, the third step consisted of homogenising the codes and tallying different rationales. This procedure will also be followed for the second set of self-reports, 2016-2018. In the fourth step, the outcomes of the two time periods will be compared.
Preliminary results for the 2010 – 2015 self-reports indicate a variety of reasons 'why' research is integrated in the curriculum. As afore explained, the answer to this question provides the programme’s rationale on research in the curriculum. The findings showed that there were four main rationales stated: 1. Research in the curriculum is part of the strategic agenda of this university of applied science 2. Research in the curriculum helps to prepare students for their graduation research 3. Research in the curriculum helps students develop (research)skills they need in the profession 4. Research in the curriculum helps students develop critical thinking skills and a critical attitude Next to these rationales, there were 17 self-reports in which no rationale for research in the curriculum was provided. These results show that the majority of educational programmes have formulated a rationale on research in the curriculum that can be used as a central theme for curriculum development, as is suggested by van den Akker (2003). However, considering the content of these rationales, not all four are of a substantial enough nature to provide direction for curriculum design at the programme level. Merely considering that the university requests research to be implemented, is not very helpful for the curriculum designers, while some of the other rationales provide more direction. For the 2016-2018 dataset, we expect to see a development where every educational programme has formulated an answer to the ‘why’ -question. We also expect that the rationales will be more substantial from the perspective of curriculum design. In this paper presentation the shift in rationales over time will be discussed both in consideration of theory building and curriculum development.
Akker, J. van den (2003). Curriculum perspectives: An introduction. In J. van den Akker, W. Kuiper, & U. Hameyer (Eds.), Curriculum landscapes and trends (pp. 1-10). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Brew, A. (2003). Teaching and Research: New Relationships and their Implications for Inquiry-Based Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Higher education Research & Development, 22(1), 3-18. Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. Londen: Sage. Fortus D., Krajcik J. (2012) Curriculum Coherence and Learning Progressions. In: Fraser B., Tobin K., McRobbie C. (eds) Second International Handbook of Science Education. Springer International Handbooks of Education, vol 24. Springer, Dordrecht. Griffioen, D. M. E. (2013). Research in Higher Professional Education: A Staff Perspective. (PhD), University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam. Healey, M., & Jenkins, A. (2015). Linking Discipline-Based Research with Teaching to Benefit Student Learning Through Engaging Students in Research and Inquiry. Retrieved from http://www.mickhealey.co.uk/resources. Heggen, K., Karseth, B., & Kyvik, S. (2010). The Relevance of Research for the Improvement of Education and Professional Practice The Research Mission of Higher Education Institutions outside the University Sector (pp. 45-60) Dordrecht: Springer. Kessels, J. (1999). A relational approach to curriculum design. In Design approaches and tools in education and training (pp. 59-70). Springer, Dordrecht. Markauskaite, L., & Goodyear, P. (2017). Epistemic Fluency and Professional Education. Innovation, Knowledgeable Action and Actionable Knowledge. Dordrecht: Springer. Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. (2015). The value of knowledge. Strategic Agenda Higher Education and Research 2015-2025. The Hague. 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. Young, M., & Muller, J. (2014). Knowledge, Expertise, and the Professions. Londen: Routledge.
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