Dissolve the Contemporary Dichotomy

During the Innovation Room of the Centre of Education and Learning on 11 November 2016, Roeland van der Rijst, Assistant Professor at ICLON, spoke about the way to dissolve the dichotomy between academe. This article contains a summary and video of his presentation.

Throughout his career, Roeland van der Rijst has focused on the research-teaching nexus. He argues that the way to dissolve the dichotomy between academe is to consider researchers, teachers and students as part of the same academic community. To do this, we first need to acknowledge that universities are keeping the dichotomy alive in their buildings, terminology, curricula and way of thinking.

Research based teaching has shown benefits for students. Students increase their understanding and knowledge, improve their skills and gain matured dispositions towards research. They also gain a feeling of competence, autonomy and relatedness. By doing research, students change their view on the world, their discipline and on what it is to gain knowledge.

Bringing research and teaching together as one calls for institutional change:

  • Curriculum design. Van der Rijst would advise any teacher to start their courses with a research problem. That way, they can directly show the relevance of the course to the students. Through working on the problem, students learn the course content.
  • Communities of practice. Making students feel included within the academic community benefits their motivation and a feeling of belonging.
  • Academic identity. Teaching always takes place at institutions and teachers also identify as academics or researchers. Some institutions deliberately separate research and teaching duties, but this is not always beneficial for teaching and students.
  • Whether teachers implement research in their teaching, depends on the research culture and support at the university. The teacher does not stand alone.

However, we can only establish real change if we:

  • acknowledge students, teachers and researchers all belong to one community;
  • note we all feel a love for knowledge;
  • understand that the heart of academe centers around 'episteme'.

Changing our terminology and ways of thinking can bring change. Therefore, we need to treat students as new colleagues in academe. Our core business should be doing research together. Approaches like research based teaching become meaningless when research and teaching become one.

Van der Rijst shares some insight on how to achieve this:

  • Use an apprenticeship model:
    - Professors guide PhD’s;
    - PhD’s guide graduates;
    - Graduates guide undergraduates;
    - Undergraduates guide freshmen.
  • Renegotiate the role of undergraduates and graduates in research grant proposals.
  • Renegotiate the role of graduates and undergraduates in research groups.
  • Reconsider your studies: how can undergraduates and graduates assist you?
  • Re-evaluate the academic development opportunities (for all scholarly roles) at your institute

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