Reshaping Teaching in Higher Education - Linking Teaching with Research

Author(s) Jenkins, Alan; Breen, Rosanna and Lindsay, Roger; with Brew, Angela
Publisher Kogan Page/SEDA London and Sterling,VA
Published 2003
ISBN 0749439033
Reviewed by John P Whomsley
Middlesex University
Review published 1 December 2004

This book is readable, well researched, timely, thought provoking and practical.

It is well researched, with wide ranging research and literature links, citing and using material gathered from debates regarding the links between research and teaching, from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, USA, Hong Kong and the UK.

It is timely, especially for readers in the UK, because the outcomes of the debates regarding Teaching Quality Enhancement and other centrally directed initiatives will result in 2003/4 in new funding streams directed at the improvement of teaching, (initially derived from thoughts of Dearing) via, the soon to be launched, Academy? The proposed establishment of 'centres of teaching excellence', using one funding stream and the concentration of most of the research funding via another funding source in a few selected universities, is problematic, especially if viewed in the light of the central tenet of this book:- that the linkage of teaching and research is central to the quality of any undergraduate experience. One possible outcome of the whole strategy above is that one set of institutions will be concentrating on research and the others will be concentrating on teaching which could create a divide, if carried to its logical conclusion, which almost every chapter in this book finds unacceptable by inference.

It is thought provoking, as it first examines if the links between teaching research and the quality of students learning are a myth or a reality. It also considers, in some considerable detail, the complexity of the assumptions behind teaching and research linkages and the realities of the impacts of these on HE policies and practices at institutional and departmental levels and how they can affect student learning.

It is practical, because many of the chapters use the approach of first initiating discussion and then move into suggesting many strategies which could be adopted; then well-documented case studies are also included from a variety of institutional contexts in the UK and abroad. These are really useful, if you accept the authors' primary assumption, that to produce better quality teaching in HE requires the targeted construction, reconstruction and development of new or revised links between teaching and research in undergraduate courses.

In the first of a series of linked chapters we first gain insights into the basic tenet of the whole book, which is: - that to produce quality learning for the students we need to reshape our teaching by linking teaching and research in many new ways. Next we examine the proofs that such links really do relate to a quality student experience. In Ch 3 the student perspective is examined as to whether they are motivated or not by these links. Next we are shown how such links can work in specific curriculum contexts. Ch 5 considers organising the institution and Ch 6 examines the organisation of any department to build the links that generate quality student learning outcomes. The final chapter considers policy and practice in HE at the national and international level, and considers the extent to which these policies recognise the importance of such linkages, and how policy can frustrate or encourage developments in line with the main arguments proposed in the text.

The book would certainly serve the purpose of raising key policy, curriculum and pedagogic debates in any department or institution. It would be particularly useful in staff development and enhancement courses such as the PG CERT HE and other courses developed for new university tutors.