22 SES 14 C, Lecturers’ Research Conceptions in Professional Fields in Higher Education
Under impetus of the Bologna Declaration there is an increasing focus across the European higher education sector on the pursuit of research and on research integration into teaching. The pursuit of research and the integration of research into teaching is believed to be beneficial for the quality of teaching and learning (e.g. Brew, 2006). However, for professional fields in higher education, research is relatively new in comparison to traditional universities and subject disciplines (Lepori & Kyvik, 2010). Previously education in professional fields in higher education was the core business of teaching-only institutes. Nowadays, there is an increasing expectation for lecturers in professional fields to publish research outputs and to integrate research into their teaching. This implies changes in the tasks and identities of lecturers and in the student experience. In addition to the increased orientation towards research, lecturers in professional fields have always focused on the employability of graduates and partnership with employers and the latter concerns are increasingly shared across the higher education sector in Europe (Prokou, 2008). This implies that lecturers have to find ways to cope with diverse, sometimes competing expectations.
Gaining insight in the conceptions of research in lecturers in professional fields in higher education, is a valuable means to understand the teaching-research nexus in those fields. The existing research on lecturers’ conceptions of research is however limited (e.g. Akerlind, 2008; Brew, 2001; Prosser, Martin, Trigwell, Ramsden, & Middleton, 2008; Visser-Wijnveen, 2009), and more focused on lecturers in traditional universities. The relatively new nature of their research activity in professional fields might imply that research is an even more complex and sensitive issue in comparison to traditional universities and subject disciplines (Kyvik & Skodvin, 2003). Hence the findings of research conceptions in academia might differ from research conceptions in professional fields.
This symposium aims to illuminate the conceptions of research held by lecturers in professional fields. Each paper in this symposium investigates research conceptions from a different perspective. The first paper compares the conceptions of research of Dutch lecturers in professional higher education to the conceptions of lecturers in classical universities, by investigating the discursive strategies in distinguishing research from non-research. The second paper looks into the conceptions of research of lecturers in Flemish professional fields in higher education and relates it to what lecturers find important for their students future profession. The third paper investigates the orientation of UK lecturers in the Health professions towards scholarship and research as an element of their activity and identity.
By focusing on conceptions of research in professional higher education in three different countries this symposium provides insight for policy makers, managers and educational developers in the positioning research activities inside and outside the educational programs. The perspectives of lecturers in professional fields, who have to find space for research alongside their focus on engagement with employers, are of relevance to academics across higher education.
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