22 SES 06 B, Teaching, Learning and Assesment in Higher Education
In the last decade there has been a growing debate about the relation between research and teaching in the universities (Brew, 2006; Elen & Verburgh, 2008; Griffiths, 2004). Because of the Bologna declaration, the integration of research into teaching is a topic that is high on the policy agenda of higher education. In Flanders the integration of research into teaching is a hot topic both for universities and polytechnics. Due to the Bologna declaration polytechnics are expected to ‘academise’, in other words to pay explicit attention to the integration of research into teaching. To fully understand these practice it is first of all necessary to learn how lecturers in polytechnics perceive research. Understanding what lecturers perceive as research is important for understanding the relationship between teaching and research (Brew, 2001).
This study builds on research about academics’ conceptions of research (e.g. Akerlind, 2008; Brew, 2001; Prosser, Martin, Trigwell, Ramsden, & Middleton, 2008; Visser-Wijnveen, 2009). Brew (2001) interviewed senior researchers in universities and identified four qualitatively different ways in which research is understood (trading, journey, layer, domino). These categories differentiate according to the orientation of research (external products or internal processes) and the awareness of the researcher (present or absent). Visser-Wijnveen (2009) interviewed through means of metaphors academics about their conceptions of research. She distinguished five categories of research (disclosing patterns, searching for patterns, explaining patterns, pointing out patterns, creating patterns) similar to the categories identified by Brew (2001).
A major limitation of these studies is that only research-active academics are involved. It is unclear whether the categories are similar for staff members who are not necessarily research-active. In addition, these studies are fully based on verbal expressions, through means of semi-structured interviews or with the use of metaphors. Leading questions or metaphors might prompt respondents into a specific direction (Clarebout, Depaepe, Elen, & Briell, 2007). Clarebout et al. (2007) argue that the use of drawings may give respondents the opportunity to express their beliefs in less confined and perhaps more creative ways. They suggest to complement the use of drawings with oral or written explanations. Drawings may provide an excellent entry into a meaningful conversation with participants. The work of Clarebout et al. concerns conceptions of knowledge. It is unclear whether the use of drawings is also a valuable approach to study conceptions of research.
The present study is an attempt to explore lecturers’ conceptions of research in polytechnics, by means of drawings in combination with focus groups. The leading research question is: what are the conceptions of research of lecturers at polytechnics. The subquestions are: (1) are the conceptions of research comparable to the categories found by Brew and by Visser-Wijnveen (2) is there a relation between the conceptions of research and the programme in which a lecturer is teaching; and (3) is the use of drawings a useful way of investigating lecturers’ conceptions of research. We explore if lecturers are able to express their conceptions of research by means of drawings.
Akerlind, G.S. (2008). An academic perspective on research and being a researcher: An integration of the literature. Studies in Higher Education, 33(1), 17-31. Brew, A. (2001). Conceptions of research: A phenomenographic study. Studies in Higher Education, 26(3), 271-285. Brew, A. (2006). Research and teaching. Beyond the divide. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. Clarebout, G., Depaepe, F., Elen, J., & Briell, J. (2007, August). The use of drawings to assess students’ epistemological beliefs. In B. Csapó & C. Csíkos (Eds.), 12th European Conference for Research on Learning and Instruction – Abstracts (p. 595). Budapest: University of Budapest. Elen, J., & Verburgh, A. (2008). Bologna in European research-intensive universities: Implications for bachelor and master programs. Antwerpen: Garant. 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. Prosser, M., Martin, E., Trigwell, K., Ramsden, P., & Middleton, H. (2008).University academics’ experience of research and its relationship to their experience of teaching. Instructional Science, 36(1), 3-16. Visser-Wijnveen, G. (2009). The research-teaching nexus in the humanities: Variations among academics [ICLON PhD Dissertation series]. Leiden: ICLON .
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