What is Research-based Learning?

Research-based learning (RBL) can broadly be encapsulated in the nexus between the approaches of enquiry/ inquiry-based learning and the features of undergraduate research

Enquiry-based learning in its widest sense can be seen as an umbrella term, ‘covering a range of approaches to learning that are driven by a process of enquiry’ (Hutchings, 2007). As such, it would include problem-based learning, project work, field-work, case studies etc. Undergraduate research - that is, research carried out as part of the curriculum by undergraduate students - would have the following essential components (Healey and Jenkins, 2009: 23): 

  • learning the epistemologies and forms of discipline-based inquiry 
  • learning particular disciplinary research methodologies 
  • linking the questions and forms of inquiry explicitly to academic staff research interests and current research foci in the disciplines; and
  • producing work that mimics the forms of knowledge creation and dissemination in their disciplines and professional areas.

According to Healey and Jenkins, while enquiry-based learning models may contain some or all of these characteristics, in undergraduate research programmes these features become significant, if not central, elements of the educational set-up. We choose to frame our work as research-based learning as it implies a stronger relationship with the methodological underpinnings of discipline-specific ways of knowledge-making than enquiry-based learning, and can extend beyond the undergraduate curriculum, although all our collaborations to date has been at this level. 

Read more about the relationship between teaching and research here.