April 10, 2007

Combining Research and Teaching

Discussion that took place in March 28th, 2007 among doctoral students

We started the discussion on “combining teaching and research“ by looking at teaching as a giving activity and researching as a receiving activity. We challenged ourselves to think if this is the case or how we can give evidence to the contrary. In order to help me show this idea, we used the following illustration. Guess which circle represents teaching and which one, research!

fig1

To clarify this idea, while we are wearing the “teaching hat”, for instance, we are giving explanations and answering queries. In this view, we are continuously producing outputs. On the other hand, when we are on “research mode” we are reading, thinking, summarising; to say the least. In this view again we are constantly receiving inputs.

However, this is a limited picture as while wearing the “teaching hat” we are also receiving inputs in the form of ideas from students, for example. Furthermore, we are developing research skills such as presenting our ideas and voicing our work to different audiences. In the same way, when on “research mode” we have some outputs in the form of knowledge that we will disseminate in publications and conferences.

fig2

What is more, we agreed that these activities are not contested; they are not mutually excluding each other. Look how complicated our initial picture is getting! Nonetheless, this does not mean there are not switching costs, as when we research and then we have to dedicate time to teaching we might feel we are wasting time, we may feel we are not be able to restart our work where we left it, in order to teach.

We discussed that these switching costs depend on our preference, is our heart in teaching or research? These costs may also depend on our time management skills, having a positive attitude, and our experience. There are also a couple of factors to be mentioned, one is the scale of the project and the other, the institution and/context including the curriculum and internal policies.

The last idea to discuss was again looking at research as giving a financial reward and teaching as giving a moral reward, exclusively. One shared idea was that developing research activities further gives the researcher obviously more authority and career opportunities, for example, although this may be arguable, an institution may recruit a lecturer due to their research experience.

However, this relationship is not mutually exclusive either, as research can pursue a moral reward just as teaching may have financial aim. To illustrate, generally speaking, a cancer researcher may pursue a moral aim due to a personal motivation; and more specifically at Warwick Institute of Education students may pursue a doctorate study with the purpose to improve maths teaching at school, for example. On the other hand, a teacher may pursue a financial reward by improving their practice and/or by deciding to undertake a doctorate study.


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  • Dear Rossana, Many thanks for uploading the photos. Now they're working. Cheers by Mahdi on this entry
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