February 3, 2024

The Benefits of Exposing Students to Real-World Scientific Research

Research-Informed TeachingKnowledge MobilizationExposing Students to Academic LiteratureUndergraduate Research

Can you picture a person going through medical school, but then never practicing as a doctor? The same idea applies to student who learns in educational institutions but never apply their skill set to real-world situations. Students need a relevant opportunity to see theory in practice. According to Queen’s University, case-based learning, or research-informed teaching, is essential for students to put themselves in the decision-maker’s shoes.

What is research-informed teaching?

Research-informed teaching (RIT) is a pedagogical theory that describes the importance and benefits of integrating research into teaching methods. Ultimately, these methods enable the student to directly apply knowledge to practical matters, such as real-world applications and affairs. Hence, research-informed teaching is a key pillar of university education that, unfortunately, is not used enough – it is often overlooked by most.

It doesn’t matter whether a student becomes involved in one real-world scientific research practicum or many, so long as they demonstrate their understanding of the subject – even only once – their educational journey will be greatly strengthened. But the thing is, oftentimes than not, students avoid this informative facet of their institutional perks.

Undergraduate students interact with the culture of research-informed teaching when they participate in direct mentorship experiences and laboratory courses that expand the scope of their potential profoundly. Not only has this practice been recognized to better the individual, but also the societies impacted by the student’s future involvement.

A picture of a lecture in a classroom

The teacher is lecturing students on the blackboard
Source: Shubham Sharan

What is the history of research-informed teaching?

In hopes of transforming higher education, Harvey first popularized the notion of reforming teaching and learning to practical terms – that is, involving students in more than just the books, but in the works.

The RIT model paved a path for discipline-based learning, resulting in beneficial outcomes for students, such as the development of critical judgment, self-belief, independence of thought, and initiative. For students to truly learn in higher education, they would need to get out of the chair and see the science teaching in works. The prior would no longer suffice. As growing evidence suggests, engaging students in inquiry-based learning, as opposed to the typical content-centered approach, has more beneficial outcomes for students.

Hence, within recent years, there has been a great uproar observed in universities to integrate research into teaching into everything they do. This way, students can both expand and apply their unique knowledge and skills to the real world.

Why is it important for students to become involved in research-informed teaching at the higher education level?

Put simply, involvement in research-informed teaching is vital for the student, at both the individual and societal levels. At the higher educational level, research-informed teaching lacks greatly; that is, there is little opportunity for students to experience the research and gain a hands-on experience they feel is educational, according to a study done that examines the student perspective of RIT at university institutions.

As people grow older, the complex interplay of the core activities of higher education becomes increasingly linked by their mutual relationship to learning. Essentially, this bears cascading positive connotations to the learning student. Specifically, the notion of a symbiotic relationship between research and teaching constitutes the very core of higher education.

How to include Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EID) in course design at the higher education level?

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) are three intrinsically linked values that reflect mighty, honorable values. Equity is the creation of opportunities for historically unrepresented populations to have equal access to resources; diversity is individual and/ or group differences that include race, gender, ability, sexual orientation, religion, and ethnicity; and inclusion is the active and intentional and persistent engagement with diversity by welcoming diverse perspectives and valuing everyone.

Hence, the inclusion of the EDI principle in research-informed teaching is beneficial. Reputable scholarly literature also supports this view, such as a research study conducted at the University of Michigan that discovered EDI principles in higher education increase academic self-confidence, social agency, and critical thinking abilities.

So, what are some research-informed teaching practices to use in the classroom?

With the rise of alternatives for teaching on the horizon, it couldn’t be more important to expose fortified concepts of research to students. This way, a generation of knowledgeable and polished individuals may be set to be the future leaders of the world, holding expertise to their name. But, how exactly can this be taught? Here are five suggestions to consider.

1. Engage students in learning the scholarship of one’s discipline or field

Every student, regardless if they decide to pursue their education past graduation, needs to have some basic knowledge of research methods to apply to real-world situations.

To expedite and support students’ learning, it is crucial to encourage them to learn and research the scholarship of a discipline or specific field. This can include reading reputable scholarly texts, timely case studies, or cutting-edge research findings. To apply their learning further, students may even practice the work of research using scholarly methods or research protocols to investigate problems, generate hypotheses, solve issues, or predict trends. Instructors and teachers can promote this practice further by organizing class discussions or group work using specific inquiry practices or ways of thinking based on how experts approach issues.

2. Align course content, assignments, and activities with relevant learning objectives

Whether it’s designing a brand new course from scratch or revising an old inherited course, it can be challenging to ensure that the content and activities of the class match the stated goals and objectives of the implementation. The nouveau standard for course design is to commence the process by articulating goals for student learning – learning objectives – and then align the activities, tone, and assignments of the course with them. Educational developers call this technique “backward design” – you begin where you want your student to end up, and work your way backward.

A good tool to help you do so is Summations because we create instruction-ready curricula. This scope ranges from research papers and other credible sources aligned with teaching standards at your university to an easier way to practice research-informed teaching in your classroom!

3. Prompt a variety of questions and allot time for students to clarify

One seemingly obvious approach to the implementation of this method is involving students directly. Asking students questions engages them actively and opens Pandora's Box to curiosity, inquiry, and reflection.

Also, it provides students with the opportunities to practice with new or complex content and display both what and how they are learning. Teaching effectively with questions requires not only posing the question but also providing sufficient time for student engagement.

To achieve these, be sure to check out Summations! We have an extensive base that has discussion questions, quizzes, and assignments developed for these papers.

4. Implement assessments that promote learning

Assessing student learning requires the acquisition and examination of students’ development of the knowledge and skills that indicate the extent to which students are meeting learning objectives. In other words, students must demonstrate their learning in some tangible way – either formative or summative.

5. Enquiry-based learning

Finally, the inquiry-based paradigm is another crucial aspect to consider. Unlike most approaches, inquiry-based learning is a student-centered approach; it gets the student to apply their knowledge in action. Essentially, it is the application of the curriculum.

For example, consider this: a one-hour teaching session structure, in an inquiry-based approach, would begin with student-led inquiry – that is, driven by authentic questions – and involve the students directly. They will actively seek out information that will later lead to small group discussions, where individuals can discuss the unique findings of their respective works. Doing so garners the attention and support of fellow peers, consequently encouraging one another in the process. Next, an open forum can be presented, or a holistic learning approach. This includes whole-class participation, holistic learning, short bursts of information/activity, and student engagement. This may be the most imperative part of inquiry-based learning. Finally, for the next 10-15 minutes, motivation for the next topic must be facilitated, as this sets the stage for the succeeding research left to be done.

Work Cited