In a world where the role of an academic in higher education is quickly evolving to meet the needs of the 21st Century, this article looks at how scholarship is important in informing our teaching practice for now and the future.
During the past year, I participated in a range of scholarly activities to stay current in my discipline and carry out the assigned duties to the best of my abilities. I am a firm believer that any research undertaken within a specific discipline should have an explicit impact on the teaching (Healey, 2007). Teaching informed by research or research-based teaching, results in improved student learning and a better student experience (Barnett, 2005).
Research and teaching
My research mainly covers areas of wireless sensor communication and network designing with a focus on emerging areas of Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics a.k.a Big Data within this domain. Last year while redeveloping one of my subjects, ITC542 Internetworking with TCP/IP, I used my research background and knowledge in the domain to add the latest trends and updates in the networking space. ITC542 is a very popular subject with enrolments in-excess of 800 students per year and by incorporating more contemporary content, supplemented by a range of self-guided learning activities, an improvement in student engagement and progression rates has been noticed across all cohorts.
Undertaking regular professional development activities also play an important role in helping to stay current and up to date with recent developments in our selected domains. I have personally been able to find some of the best Professional Development (PD) courses via the professional organisations that I hold memberships for.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is the world’s largest technical professional body dedicated to advancing technology in the field of IT and communication and offers a range of PD courses focused on the latest developments in our disciplines. I regularly attend these courses to not only help me in understanding the broader applications of my research but also to inform my teaching practices. This has especially helped me in facilitating the honours and capstone project subjects where I am able to guide my students in the latest practices for their research projects accordingly.
Course Design: Impact of current research
Moreover in my role as Course Director, I try to frequently use my research knowledge and background to lead course improvement processes. One of the best aspect of my current role is that it enables me to work with subject matter experts in various domains and lean on their research expertise to develop new or redevelop existing subject content.
Over the past year, I have been a part of few project teams to improve quality of a some of our post graduate IT subjects and am pleased to say that the initial feedback around the updated content has been encouraging.
In short, I feel that instead of approaching teaching and research as two competing priorities, linking the research and teaching closely can certainly go a long way to manage both these important aspects of academic life successfully. The teaching content must be relevant for real world application for it to provide effective learning, and using teaching informed by research practices can go a long way in achieving this goal (Roettger et al.2007).
Barnett, R. (2005). New relationships between research, scholarship and teaching. McGraw-Hill
Healey, M. (2007). Linking Research and Teaching to Benefit Student Learning. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 183-201
Roettger, C.J., Roettger, L.O. & Walugembe, F. (2007). Teaching: More Than Just Lecturing, Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, 120-133.