Role and Need of Research in Higher Education

Role and Need of Research in Higher Education

On hear of the term higher education one thing that makes a lot of significance is the outcome from the learning that has been done in those crucial years.

Students investing in higher education must be given exposure and opportunities to be able to use all that knowledge to evolve themselves as well as be able to contribute in the discipline with better research, studies and other discoveries made.

The pointers mentioned below implies the role and need of research in higher education and why research must be a part of every higher education institution.

1. Teaching will improve if the staff engages in research (research-based teaching):

The first argument emphasizes on the necessity of research oriented teaching. Educators engaged in research are updated with latest information and updated facts instead of all that is mentioned in a book years old. It is essential that teachers engage in research to come out with latest and original information but also when they expect students to be research oriented they must have familiarity with various aspects to the concept. Also, educators familiar with research based teaching can help students with the following things:

- Teaching research results

- Making research known

- Showing what it means to be a researcher

- Helping to conduct research

- Providing research experience   

2. Students will learn more if they come into contact with research (research-based learning):

Students when involved in research based learning are bound to learn more and better than they would without the integration of research.  Students start as consumers of knowledge and move toward knowledge producers in the following eight steps.

- Students are provided with an overview of the basic facts, terms, and ideas related to the discipline.

- Students learn about research findings in the (sub) field through lectures and readings dedicated to current research.

- Students discuss and critique research findings and approaches in the discipline or (sub) field; assignments include literature reviews or summaries.

- Students learn some research methodologies; engage in limited applications of those approaches in course assignments, such as statistical analyses.

- Students learn in a course dedicated to the research methodologies, engage in extensive applications of a variety of approaches.

- Students engage in faculty designed and led original (to the student) research such as replications of existing studies.

- Students engage in faculty designed and led original research such as research related to faculty projects and/or conducted in faculty labs.

- Students engage in student designed and led original (to the discipline) research such as a senior thesis or capstone project

3. Professional practice will improve if professional workers in their training learn how to base their work on research-based knowledge (research-based practice):

This highlights the importance of hiring professionals who are familiar with research based practice. Having trainers who can help the current staff to make research based modules is also essential. To integrate the practice of research it is important to learn how to base curriculum aligned to the practice of research.

4. Professional programs have an obligation to improve the knowledge basis of professional work through research (research-based knowledge production):

The main concern of this point is the importance of doing research to enhance ‘evidence-based’ knowledge. The need of this practice is to help students learn with hands-on experience and not just what’s said and done but speak and do!

What to do for more research based teaching –learning

- Deciding that education and research are equally important.

- Appointing at least one university professor of research education.

- Establishing a university Centre for Teaching and Learning.

- Building a university Teaching and Learning House.

- Linking research and teaching committees.

- Bridging any divides between research staff and teaching staff.

- Appointing only academics who excel in both research and teaching.

- Strengthening positive attitudes towards research by students among staff and students.

- Making resources available for students to do research.

- Making it possible that libraries give information literacy instruction to students.

- Offering opportunities and incentives for teachers for further development of their ‘research based’ teaching competence and excellence.

- Creating and stimulating opportunities for dissemination of successful practices.

- Recognizing teaching excellence.

- Introducing an undergraduate student research award.

- Monitoring the growth of ‘research-based’ teaching.

- Ordering and financing more research of the teaching-research nexus and of research-based teaching and learning in particular.

Universities can improve the relevance of the education and can better prepare the students for follow-up studies and to the new and emerging demands of the labor market in the twenty-first century. Moreover, a close intertwining of teaching and research strengthens their identity. Academics can help students by engaging them in research to better develop highly valued competencies. More research-based teaching can also make teaching more attractive for academics and can make teaching instrumental to the academics’ own research.

"Re-inventing Research-Based Teaching and Learning by Henk Dekker and Sylvia Walsarie Wolff" is a paper prepared for presentation at the meeting of the European Forum for Enhanced Collaboration in Teaching of the European University Association from December 2016. This is a must read to get to the depths of understanding about the need and importance of research in higher education.

Don’t forget to share your views on the importance of research in higher education. Make a mention in the comment section below!

About the Author
Author: Priyanka Gupta
Priyanka is a blogger by profession and has an increasing interest to write about the edtech space. While writing she keeps in mind the educators to come up with right resources and ideas which might be relevant for them in relation to effective use of technology in their profession and institutions/classrooms.
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