Minimising Risks in Research-informed Teaching
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Reported benefits of research-informed teaching include enhanced student engagement and graduates that are better prepared for employment in an uncertain world. However, there are a number of academic risks that can have both positive and negative impacts on staff and students when implementing research-informed teaching. Mitigating such risks could smooth the way for, or even encourage, wider exploration of innovative teaching methods with associated benefits. This paper presents findings of an empirical study that identifies what risks were encountered or perceived from both student and staff perspectives when adopting a research-informed teaching approach. Risks were identified through semi-structured interviews with multi-disciplinary staff and a questionnaire survey with students. Two risk categories were revealed as particularly significant for student learning: curriculum bias and how research engagement impacts on student experience. Staff reported considerable positive impacts on well-being and motivation when adopting research-informed teaching. In light of this, the frequently encountered strategies for staff to reduce risks and negative impacts are presented, including raising awareness of key teaching styles or methods and fostering a sense of wider cultural support for innovative pedagogies within and between disciplines and departments. More could be gained by acknowledging and managing the risks associated with research-informed teaching than by strategically avoiding this type of activity.
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