Research-based learning annotated bibliography

The areas covered here include research-, enquiry- and problem-based learning, the teaching-research nexus, disciplinary variation in (conceptions of) research and assessment and evaluation in enquiry-based learning. 

All Internet links were active in January 2015. Read about our work at Queen Mary to develop a research-based approach here.

Abbreviations: EBL - enquiry-based learning; PBL - problem-based learning.

  • Barrett, T., Mac Labhrainn, I. and Fallon, H. (Eds). (2005). Handbook of Enquiry and Problem-based Learning: Irish Case Studies and International Perspectives. Galway: CELT. 

This book is a compilation of papers covering a wide range of issues relating to EBL and PBL. Some chapters focus on the theoretical aspects of EBL (albeit with some practical suggestions), while others have been written as case studies. The book is freely available on-line.

  • Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University. (1998). Reinventing Undergraduate Education: A Blueprint for America’s Research Universities. Stony Brook: State University of New York at Stony Brook. 

This influential and widely-cited report prepared in the US by the Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University argues against didactic teaching approaches and for integrating enquiry- and research-based learning in the undergraduate curriculum from the first year at university.

  • Brew, A. (2003). Teaching and Research: new relationships and their implications for inquiry-based teaching and learning in higher education. Higher Education Research and Development, 22/1: 3-18.

This paper looks at different ways of conceptualising research, scholarship, knowledge and teaching, and proposes a new model of the relationship between research and teaching which is built around the idea of communities of practice. The author calls for reconceptualising higher education through developing academic communities of practice and changing the relationship between students and teachers.

  • Brew, A. (2006). Research and Teaching: Beyond the Divide. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.

This book explores the complex relationships between teaching and research by bringing together a comprehensive theoretical discussion, empirical research, examples and academic conversations. The author sees the development of inclusive scholarly knowledge-building communities of practice that would include both staff and students as a way forward to create ‘a different kind of university’ in the twenty-first century.

  • Chang, H. (2005). Turning an undergraduate class into a professional research community. Teaching in Higher Education, 10/3: 387-394.

This paper reports on a pilot project aimed at the integration of teaching and research on an undergraduate history of science course through the ‘mechanism of inheritance’, whereby each year students work on the work produced by the students in a previous year. It outlines the key ideas underlying a ‘directed community’ model of teaching-research integration, as well as some practical methods of facilitating students’ work in this context. 

  • Coate, K., Barnett, R. and Williams, G. (2001). Relationship Between Teaching and Research in Higher Education in England. Higher Education Quarterly, 55/2: 158-174.

This paper reports on a HEFCE project exploring the relationship between teaching and research. It discusses both positive and negative influences that research and teaching can have on each other, and offers some suggestions as to what can be done to promote ‘a synergistic relationship’ between the two.

  • Elsen, M., Visser-Wijnveen, G. J., van der Rijst, R. M. and 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.

This paper provides an overview of some empirical studies on the research-teaching nexus (including a number of studies on students’ perceptions and experiences of research), as well as an overview of a number of conceptualisations of the relationship between research and teaching. It discusses the implications of the latter for course design and curriculum development, and presents a sample 1st year research-intensive curriculum, which is based on one of the frameworks discussed in the paper.

  • Gibson, I. (2005). Designing Projects for Learning. In Barrett, T., Mac Labhrainn, I. and Fallon, H. (Eds). Handbook of Enquiry and Problem-based Learning: Irish Case Studies and International Perspectives’. Galway: CELT. 

This chapter focuses on project-based learning both in general terms, and in the context of an undergraduate engineering degree programme at the National University of Ireland, Galway. It has a useful table comparing traditional and project-based approaches in education.

  • 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.

This paper discusses the main conceptual themes that emerged and grew in importance during the life of the HEFCE-funded project on the relationship between teaching and research (LINK). The author reviews some ideas about the meaning of research and different modes of knowledge production in different disciplinary contexts (with a particular focus on the built environment disciplines) and discusses the complexities of bringing knowledge production and student learning together. He then proposes four models of the research-teaching nexus – a classification that is now widely cited in the area of research- and enquiry-based learning. 

This is the third paper in the HEA-sponsored series looking at the relationship between research and teaching. It presents a comprehensive argument. Drawing on  recent research and numerous examples of practice from different contexts, it puts a case forward that engaging students in research and enquiry (and, as a result, developing them as producers of knowledge) is one of the most effective ways to strengthen the links between teaching and research. The paper offers recommendations on embedding research- and enquiry-based learning experiences in undergraduate curricula.

This is a two-page document that defines EBL and its basic characteristics.

A wide-ranging paper that defines and discusses enquiry as a general concept and positions EBL in the context of other learning approaches. Some of the areas covered here include the process of enquiry, the enquiry/research parallel, EBL as an umbrella term (covering PBL, field-work, project work and case studies) and the tutor’s role in EBL.

This is the first paper in the HEA-sponsored series looking at the relationship between research and teaching. Drawing on research evidence and examples of policies and practices from different countries, this paper presents and discusses institutional strategies for linking research activity and students’ learning.

This is the second paper in the HEA-sponsored series looking at the relationship between research and teaching. The focus of this paper is on the disciplinary and academic communities, and how the links between discipline-based research and teaching in such communities can help enhance student learning experiences and outcomes. 

  • Khan, P. and O’Rourke, K. (2005). Understanding Enquiry-Based Learning. In Barrett, T., Mac Labhrainn, I. and Fallon, H. (Eds). Handbook of Enquiry and Problem-based Learning: Irish Case Studies and International Perspectives. Galway: CELT. 

This chapter introduces the EBL approach, provides an overview of its basic characteristics and outlines the ways of supporting and assessing EBL projects. It also discusses the overlap between EBL and PBL (Problem-based Learning) and contains a useful table that matches some of the issues facing HE with possible solutions that EBL can offer.

  • Lambert, C. (2009). Pedagogies of participation in higher education: a case for research-based learning. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 17/3: 295-309.

This article explores the meaning of participation in both theoretical and practical terms and presents research-based learning as a model of participatory pedagogy in a contemporary university. The author argues that by gaining first-hand experience of research, undergraduate students would be less likely to act as ‘consumers’ and would become (co)producers of knowledge, ensuring their meaningful and engaged participation in higher education.

  • Levy, P. and 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 EducationIFirst. DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2010.499166.

This article reports on a study of first-year undergraduate arts, humanities and social sciences students’ perceptions of enquiry and research, and presents a conceptual framework of EBL developed on the basis of this study – a slightly amended version of the framework presented in Levy (2009). The introductory section of the paper presents a useful literature review of EBL and related areas.

  • Macdonald, R. (2005). Assessment Strategies for Enquiry and Problem-based Learning. In Barrett, T., Mac Labhrainn, I. and Fallon, H. (Eds). Handbook of Enquiry and Problem-based Learning: Irish Case Studies and International Perspectives. Galway: CELT. 

This chapter largely draws on a more detailed briefing paper by Macdonald and Savin-Baden (2004) which is described below. This is a concise version of the latter without subject-specific examples.

This briefing paper outlines different methods of assessment that have been successfully used within PBL and has a separate section on self, peer and collaborative assessment and their advantages and disadvantages. A number of examples of assessment in PBL from a variety of disciplines and contexts are also presented.

This is a brief but all-round and useful general guide to evaluating projects in teaching development. It contains an Evaluation Survey for Enquiry and Problem Based Learning as one of the evaluation tools offered in the appendices.

  • Neumann, R. (1992). Perceptions of the teaching-research nexus: a framework for analysis. Higher Education, 23: 159-171.

This paper reports on a study into senior academic administrators’ perceptions of the research-teaching nexus in the Australian HE context. This study has shown that this nexus often operates on three levels: the tangible nexus – dissemination of advanced knowledge and research skills, the intangible nexus – developing a critical approach to knowledge and a positive attitude to learning (in students), and the global nexus – the connections between teaching and research at the departmental level. Additional aspects to take into account are module type and purpose, students’ abilities and motivations, and the nature and level of development of the discipline. This research highlights the complex nature of the relationship between teaching and research.

  • Newmann, R., Parry, S. and Becher, T. (2002). 'Teaching and Learning in their Disciplinary Contexts: A Conceptual Analysis'. Studies in Higher Education, 27/4: 405-417.

This article uses a framework that distinguishes between hard pure, soft pure, hard applied and soft applied disciplines to provide an overview of research in the knowledge-related (curriculum, assessment and cognitive purpose) and socially-related (teacher characteristics, teaching methods and student learning requirements) domains. The systematic disciplinary variation uncovered in the process of this analysis led the authors to call for exercising caution when embedding methods which have been effective in one discipline in other disciplinary contexts (they refer to PBL in Medicine as an example).

This document outlines the evaluation strategy adopted by CEEBL (The Centre for Excellence in Enquiry-Based Learning), a CETL at the University of Manchester that was active in 2005-2010. It also provides advice on conducting evaluation of enquiry-based learning initiatives by presenting a number of approaches to and principles of evaluation relevant to such contexts.

  • Robertson, J. and Blacker, G. (2006). Students’ experiences of learning in a research environment, Higher Education Research and Development 25/3: 215-229.

This paper reports on a qualitative study into students’ experiences of research and whether/how these experiences vary across the disciplines of physics, geography and English. The findings point to disciplinary variation in terms of the proximity to and participation in a research community on the part of student participants.

  • Robertson, J. and Bond, C. (2001). Experiences of the Relation between Teaching and Research: what do academic value? Higher Education Research & Development, 20/1: 5-19.

In contrast to a number of quantitative attempts to investigate the relationship between teaching and research (e.g. looking at students’ evaluations of teaching and publication counts), this article is based on a small-scale qualitative study into how academics experience the teaching-research relationship. These experiences have been grouped into five categories, from seeing research and teaching as ‘mutually incompatible activities’ to seeing them as sharing ‘a symbiotic relationship in a learning community’. The paper elaborates on these five categories and identifies a number of ways in which this research can be taken further.

  • Robertson, J. and Bond, C. (2005). The Research/Teaching Relation: A View from the ‘Edge’. Higher Education, 50: 509-535.

Taking the University of Canterbury (Christchurch, New Zealand) as a case study, this paper traces the development of teaching and research there over time, in order to understand the relation between teaching and research in its local and historical context.

  • Smith, P. and Rust, C. (2011). The potential of research-based learning for the creation of truly inclusive academic communities of practice. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 48/2: 115–125

This article explores the concept of the ‘academic community’ and argues that engaging undergraduate students in research and creating inclusive academic communities of practice based around a particular subject/discipline would benefit both students and academic/support staff, and would counteract the increasing fragmentation of the academic community. The paper offers some practical recommendations on management and accommodation that could foster the creation of such inclusive spaces.

  • Spronken-Smith, R. and Walker, R. (2010). Can inquiry-based learning strengthen the links between teaching and disciplinary research? Studies in Higher Education, 35/6: 723-740

This article reports on three case studies in which the potential of EBL to strengthen the relationship between teaching and research is examined. The three case studies correspond to three modes of enquiry – structured, guided and open - and one of the conclusions is that open enquiry (rather than structured or guided) leads to stronger links between teaching and research. The authors offer a new conceptual model of EBL which expands on Levy’s framework and takes into consideration the three modes of enquiry mentioned earlier and the different levels of the strength of the research-teaching nexus. The article contains a lot of useful references and offers several instruments for evaluating EBL initiatives.