Now 5 months into my PhD, I have been taught by research-active academics from a number of universities. I have also started teaching final-year undergraduate students, though the content and style of my teaching is fairly traditional at this stage.
I would love to develop research-led teaching, whereby I’m involving undergraduates in research work. Some of these students may also want to take up a research career in future. So, how would you go about setting up a research-led teaching programme?
• Relate the specific area of your research to the broader module outline and the broader curriculum: in my case, this could be to ask MBA or undergraduate students to think about “How does entrepreneurship work for family businesses? Think about family businesses that you know and think about what makes them successful? Which of their techniques for marketing, product development, training, succession planning etc. would be transferable to another type of business?”
• Stick to second or third year undergraduates who are keen to improve their academic and team-working skills. I’ve found a wide range of abilities and confidence in reading and writing, even amongst my final year students.
• Hold writing workshops to ensure their language, analytical and research skills are up to the job. Writing workshops would also improve my own writing abilities!
• Check that your academic colleagues are supportive. I suspect that some of the faculty would be more enthusiastic than others in letting undergraduates loose on a research programme.
Taking a longer-term approach yields better results: at UCL, a 3-year project encouraged students to take up a piece of research which had been conducted by students from the year above. This “mechanism of inheritance” meant that each cohort was learning from the previous year’s work. This process was repeated for 3 years until publishable materials were produced. The students found it valuable to join an evolving community of peer-researchers. Read more about the project here: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/teaching-learning/teaching-learning-methods/research-led-learning/documents/Turning_an_undergraduate_class_into_a_professional_research_community.pdf
Have you ever tried research-led teaching, or been a student in a research-led teaching progamme?
Did you find the experience positive? Your comments, as ever, would be much appreciated