Teaching-Research nexus in Engineering Education

Teaching-Research nexus in Engineering Education

M. Magnell, J. Söderlind, L. Geschwind (2016).  Teaching-Research nexus in Engineering Education. 12.

In the academic community there is commonly a belief that there is a strong link between teaching and research that is mutually reinforcing [Neumann 1992, Robertson 2007]. Empirical studies have however failed to establish any relationship between research productivity and teaching quality [Hattie & Marsh 1996, Ramsden & Moses 1992], but can instead show an evident division of labour among the ranks of faculty [Geschwind & Broström 2014]. In engineering education there has been evidence of an ’academic drift’ implying a shift in focus from industrial practice to ‘esoteric’ bodies of knowledge [Harwood 2010]. However, concerns have also been raised about a ’curriculum creep’ where industrial needs are taking priority over the research links in teaching [Webster 2002]. Needless to say, engineering education is contended and the teaching-research nexus is being challenged from several directions. But how is this tension perceived and handled by faculty? What incentives are there to promote and to thwart the teaching-research nexus? These are some of the questions we pose in our study.

Thus, our focus is to inquire how faculty perceive the tension between academic ideals and countervailing forces such as industrial needs, promotion criteria or financing structures, and how this influences their behavior. This will be studied on a more general level but also closer to the practice of teaching and researching, as in how these duties are carried out. The novelty of the approach is thus to study the connection of the beliefs and opinions of faculty with their actions. We will build our analytical model on developed taxonomies [Neumann 1992, Robertson 2007, Healey 2005, Elsen, Visser Wijnveen, Van der Rijst & Van Driel 2009] and conduct our study with a mixed methods design [Creswell 1999] by initial in-depth interviews with key members of faculty, documentary studies, a survey to all faculty and two case-studies including documentary studies and interviews with members of faculty.

Preliminary results from documentary studies and initial interviews reveal an ideal in which faculty are involved in both research and teaching, which in turn is assumed to have a positive influence on teaching. Case-study interviews show that the teaching-research nexus is obtained by i) all faculty doing both teaching and research, ii) using problems and examples from research conducted in academia and in industry, and iii) providing the tools students need in order to understand and do research. Additionally, nearly 90% of the survey respondents think that the research conducted increases quality in the engineering programs, while about 65% state that a reason for not obtaining a link between research and teaching is due to the fact that it is not strongly valued.

Our object of study is KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, a large research intensive technical university with a variety of institutional arrangements among the departments for financing and promotion and also varying academic cultures, but within a common organizational umbrella guaranteeing a similar institutional framework.

Proceedings of the 12th International CDIO Conference, Turku, Finland, June 12-16 2016

Authors (New): 
Marie Magnell
Johan Söderlind
Lars Geschwind
KTH Royal Institute of Technology,Sweden
Teaching-research nexus
Engineering education
Teaching and learning activities
Links to industry
CDIO Standard 3
CDIO Standard 5
CDIO Standard 7
CDIO Standard 8
Annual Report 2014, available online: https://www.kth.se/en/om/fakta/policies/arsredovisning-1.3952 (2016-02-06): 
CDIO Standards v 2.0, 2010, available online: http://cdio.org/search/node/cdio%20standards%20v%202.0 (2016-02-06): 
Christensen, S. H., & Erno-Kjolhede, E. (2011). Academic drift in Danish professional engineering education. Myth or reality? Opportunity or threat? European Journal of Engineering Education, 36(3), 285-299.: 
Commission, B. (2008). Reinventing Undergraduate Education: A blueprint for America\'s research universities.: 
Crawley, E., Malmqvist, J., Ostlund, S., & Brodeur, D. (2007). Rethinking engineering education. New York: Springer. : 
Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research Design. Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. California London New Dehli Singapore: SAGE. : 
Edström, K., & Soderholm, D. (2007). Teaching and learning. In E. Crawley, J. Malmqvist, S. Östlund, & D. Brodeur (Eds.), Rethinking Engineering Education (pp. 130-151): Springer. : 
Elsen, M. G., Visser‐Wijnveen, G. J., Van der Rijst, R. M., & Van Driel, J. H. (2009). How to strengthen the connection between research and teaching in undergraduate university education. Higher Education Quarterly, 63(1), 64-85. : 
Geschwind, L., & Broström, A. (2014). Managing the teaching–research nexus: ideals and practice in research-oriented universities. Higher Education Research & Development(ahead-of-print), 1- 14. : 
Griffiths, R. (2004). Knowledge production and the research–teaching nexus: The case of the built environment disciplines. Studies in Higher Education, 29(6), 709-726. : 
Harwood, J. (2010). Understanding academic drift: On the institutional dynamics of higher technical and professional education. Minerva, 48(4), 413-427.: 
Hattie, J., & Marsh, H. W. (1996). The relationship between research and teaching: A meta-analysis. Review of educational research, 66(4), 507-542. : 
Healey, M. (2005). Linking research and teaching exploring disciplinary spaces and the role of inquirybased learning. In R. Barnett (Ed.), Reshaping the university: new relationships between research, scholarship and teaching (pp. 67-78).: 
Jenkins, A., & Healey, M. (2005). Institutional strategies to link teaching and research: Higher Education Academy York.: 
Jenkins, A., Healey, M., & Zetter, R. (2007). Linking teaching and research in disciplines and departments: Higher Education Academy York.: 
Kasten, K. L. (1984). Tenure and merit pay as rewards for research, teaching, and service at a research university. The Journal of Higher Education, 500-514. : 
Kyvik, S. (2009). Academisation The Dynamics of Change in Higher Education: Expansion and Contraction in an Organisational Field (pp. 135-165): 
Marsh, H. W., & Hattie, J. (2002). The relation between research productivity and teaching effectiveness: Complementary, antagonistic, or independent constructs? Journal of Higher education, 603-641. : 
Neumann, R. (1992). Perceptions of the teaching-research nexus: A framework for analysis. Higher Education, 23(2), 159-171. : 
Ramsden, P., & Moses, I. (1992). Associations between research and teaching in Australian higher education. Higher Education, 23(3), 273-295. : 
Robertson, J. (2007). Beyond the ‘research/teaching nexus’: exploring the complexity of academic experience. Studies in Higher Education, 32(5), 541-556. : 
Go to top