Input to the work group ‘Research-based education at UiO’
by Crina Damşa, Associate Professor, Department of Education and LINK
I am sending this input with this hope that it can contribute to clarifying some of the terminology used in the discussion of research-based learning at UiO, and to provide some framing from the perspective of research on teaching and learning, especially.
An aspect of importance would be to take into consideration the rather implied, if not unknown, distinctions within the spectrum of what is called ‘research-based education’.
The research literature indicates some distinctions between types of learning activities wherein research is included in some form, depending on the way research knowledge and are framed. A rather compelling, but not much investigated, model is the one by Healey & Jenkins (2009; see also Afdal & Damşa, 2018), which shows four ways of using research in teaching:
- Research-led activities: teaching/learning about the research in the field and main findings, usually through lecturing;
- Research-tutored activities: the above, complemented by learning the critical thinking approach implied by research – seminars and research forums where articles are read and discussed;
- Research-oriented activities: teaching/learning how to performed certain research-typical tasks, e.g., searching literature using databases, collecting and analyzing/interpreting data, etc.
- Research-based learning: teaching/learning to conduct research
Each of these ways of engaging with research has potential for bringing students in contact with research and facilitate learning of competences of general nature (for example, critical reasoning).
Another distinction that is perhaps important is the one between learning through (doing) research and other types of activities that resemble research thinking and work. This category can include inquiry-based learning, research and development assignments (Forskning og Utvikling - FoU, in Norwegian), applied research, perhaps. At institutional level, the choice and strategy for concrete implementation might depend on the discipline and nature of the program, whether academic or professional. For example, project-based learning (as illustrated in the meeting on Feb 11) can have an inquiry component – students need to identify the problem and the solution provided through their project, gather information, process it and generate own ideas. (see Damşa, 2018; Levy, 2009)
Such inquiry tasks can have a wide range, from addressing a question based on reading a scientific or legal text; to solving a medical/diagnostic problem or to developing a software solution. The common denominator is that the ‘research’ is applied to a concrete, authentic professional context.
Finally, research-based learning is a type of learning that is much debated, and there is blatantly little empirical evidence to provide information about its mechanisms. I personally would consider one important action point in this strategy to be to establish an agenda and the framing conditions (in terms of funds, time and assigned responsibilities) for conducting research on the processes of teaching and learning that involve research.
Texts mentioned above and other texts of relevance:
- Aditomo, A., Goodyear, P., Bliuc, A-M., & Ellis R., (2013). Inquiry-based learning in higher education: principal forms, educational objectives, and disciplinary variations, Studies in Higher Education, 38(9), 1239-1258, doi: 10.1080/03075079.2011.616584
- Afdal, H. W. & Damşa, C.I. (2019). Research-based education - an exploration of interpretations in two professional higher education programmes. In P. Maassen, M. Nerland & L. Yates (ed.), Reconfiguring Knowledge in Higher Education. Springer Nature. 129 - 148
- Damşa, C.I. (2019. Research and Development Tasks in Teacher Education: Institutional Framing and Student Experiences, In P. Maassen, M. Nerland & L. Yates (ed.), Reconfiguring Knowledge in Higher Education. Springer Nature. 129 - 148
- Healey, M., & Jenkins, A. (2009). Developing undergraduate research and inquiry. York: Higher Education Academy
- Levy, P. 2009. Inquiry-based learning: A conceptual framework. Centre for Inquiry-Based Learning in the Arts and Social Sciences, University of Sheffield Retrieved from: ac.uk/content/1/c6/09/37/83/CILASS%20IBL%20Framework%20%28Version%204 %29.doc
- Levy, P., & Petrulis, R. (2011). How do first-year university students experience inquiry and research, and what are the implications for the practice of inquiry-based learning? Studies in Higher Education, 37(1), 85–101