Research-Teaching Linkages: Development of a discipline-level strand:

Arts and Social Sciences

Dr Vicky Gunn & Dr. Steve Draper

Lecturer, Senior Lecturer

Learning and Teaching Dept. of Psychology

Southpark House University of Glasgow

University of Glasgow G12 8QQ

G12 8QQ

0141 330 3890 0141 330 5089


We interpret this bid as essentially focussing on two processes — dissemination of relevant materials and embedding of practices and tools to allow for continuation of the project subsequent to the duration of its initial funding. For ease, we have divided these two processes thus:

(i) Dissemination, which is divided into "pull": how to supply useful information to those actively seeking it out, and "push": how to gain the attention of, and then information transfer to, those not actively seeking the information;

(ii) Embedding materials that promote actual changes in practice that are sustainable, updatable, and useful.

1. Dissemination:

(i) ‘pull’:

(a) undertake a literature and practice review:

which would update the work already undertaken by Angela Brew and others and identify discipline-specific examples and practices that both agree and disagree with the findings of this previous work; This is of particular importance given the different types of disciplines represented within this bid. It aims also to enhance accuracy and accessibility of this information.

(b) develop ‘simple’ web-site:

Putting this on the web is far and away the best way for it to be found by active seekers when they are seeking it, i.e. on demand. It is important that it is on a simple web site where search engines like Google will find it, and not (only) in a site based on a database or content managment system where the documents will not be "seen" and indexed by Google. The latter kind of site is only found and used by those who are driven by the question "What does site S have?", rather than the question "What is available about the topic (of research-teaching links)".

(ii) "Push":

(a) develop instruments for self-engagement with research-teaching linkages:

Many academics don't think they want to do anything about research-teaching linkages partly because they don't see that as an important aim, but even more often because they feel their courses are doing plenty already. Thus the key issue in "push" is to seize their attention in order to make them engage further.

We will develop and deploy at least a couple of devices with this in mind. First a self-rating quiz for academics about the number of research skills introduced to their undergraduates. The idea is to list the skills and activities a postgraduate has to deploy in that discipline, and then ask whether they are present in the undergraduate course e.g. "Do your undergraduates have to do reviews of the research literature?" (all disciplines), "Do they have to create an experimental design?" (psychology), "Do they have to interview school pupils?" (education), "Do they have to produce critical assessments of published research, complete with suggestions for how future research should be better done?" (most disciplines).

Our thinking here is that academics initially, believing their courses are fully adequate, may well go through the quiz to bolster their self-justification, but may in the process start thinking about possible improvements. Secondly, a short questionnaire an academic can give to their own students on how they perceive the research linkage in their course. We have reason to believe that there are many research-teaching linkages present in the minds of staff, but not apparent to their students. This questionnaire, if administered, would bring this out to an academic for their own context, and so lay the grounds for future change. We will design the questionnaire, and provide copies for both paper and web administration.

We would take cognisance of the fact that such instruments for developing insight into research-teaching linkages must be adaptable to the different needs of the subjects located within the Arts and Social Sciences umbrella. Most significantly we would start from the position of assuming that these disciplines will have different links between research and teaching to most enhance the students with respect to graduate attributes. To enable the development of such instruments we would use a framework already identified for discussing research-enhanced learning environments including:

(b) Provide seminars for dissemination

Having developed these ideas on push-related materials, the media we will use will be, as the call suggests, talks. Although materials will be available on the web, it is not particularly likely that they will attract the attention of those for whom they are targeted. The seminars would be focussed on both Faculty Managers, such as Deans, Learning and Teaching Associate Deans and will provide information and support for them to draw on in asking their staff to "take a look" (whether in paper or digital form) at the issue. Similarly in seminars and staff workshops, the first (self-assessment quiz) at least is an admirable on the spot exercise to do and then discuss. It will also be easy to embed in standard staff training: and this gives us a route into embedding well beyond the lifetime of this project, in the form of material that will be regularly used and attract the attention of staff repeatedly in the future.



(c) Document and disseminate examples of good practice:

Providing concrete cases or learning designs is the most important thing for supporting the step from an academic deciding that a course change would be desirable to seeing how to do it. As required by this call, we will collect and document cases of good practice and make them available on the web (under the "pull" mechanisms). As is well known, it is important as far as possible to have examples in every discipline, and to index them by discipline. However (easy to do on the web) they will also be indexed by type e.g. "Final year research-related essay assignment", since this alternative presentation allows cross-discipline examples to be noticed even by those who wouldn't expect another discipline to have things they could use.

We will seek to collect or create examples of new kinds of intervention. It is common practice in History for academics to run seminars on a topic that they intend to turn into a book (research publication) after a few years. They don't usually tell the students this. We could, however, identify some specific examples of this, and write up short histories (a page or two) of these cases and these in turn might be offered by academics to undergraduates as direct revelations of how teaching and research in their subject are in practice linked. That is, when undergraduates participate in advanced level seminar courses they are in fact acting as a research audience and having an impact on the final publication of new scholarly contributions. This will constitute further materials that academics could draw on (under our "behavioural change" heading) to promote research-teaching links in their courses.

The above lays out some ideas reasoning from the desired end results. With that as a framework, much of the work will consist of networking with degree programme leaders, possibly initially engaging them with a self-rating quiz, and possible eliciting case studies of good practice. We plan to hire a research assistant experienced in interviewing staff to undertake much of this work.

2. Embedding

Through the creation of an on-line dissemination site and also instruments that directly engage with staff and students alike, the aim would be to encourage longer-term use of this material within Faculties, Departments, and Learning and Teaching Centres involved in curriculum enhancement. At a local level, the initial focus of this embedding would be to provide Coordinators of Probationary Lecturer Programmes with easily available tools with which to engage probationary staff.

At a broader institutional level we would identify ways to assist institutions in embedding this QE theme within the infrastructural processes of quality assurance and enhancement. A longer term aim, then, would be to consider how such tools could be used within departments to encourage staff engagement and reflection upon the research-teaching linkages in their programmes, particularly with respect to writing up Self-Evaluation Documents as part of the Departmental Review process; general programme development and review; and Annual Course Monitoring.




Relevant Qualifications and Training

(a) Dr Vicky Gunn

M.A. (Hons), History, 1st Class (1988); PhD Medieval History, University of Glasgow (1999); Non-certificated one-one and group counselling training 1989-95 (Rape Crisis Centre — non-directive crisis counselling; La Jolla Institute of Person Centred Counselling (Southampton); Institution of Human Relations (Glasgow) — psycho-dynamic group work facilitation.)

Relevant Background:

I am in the strange position of explicitly working across three disciplines, Academic Development, History, and Psychology in Health Sciences. It is this existence on the boundaries of three subjects that has enabled me to develop my practice in the teaching and learning of the various disciplines and also be able to transmit the outcomes of practices from one Arts discipline to a broader range within the Arts and Humanities. In so doing I hope I have raised the profile of the importance of reflective, research-based and informed attitudes in the creation of the learning environment for undergraduates.

However, at a more practical and student-focussed level it has also meant that since 1992 I have also been engaged in introducing non-traditional teaching methods into a discipline (History) notorious for its dependence on lectures and tutor-led seminars.


  1. I have been involved in explicitly enhancing the student experience and widening access whilst both maintaining research activity in the field of Church history for over 13 years and expanding into Academic Development at a subject, institution and international level;
  2. I have consistently transmitted the outcomes and reflections of this experience since then by engaging with academic staff in the world of the Arts and Humanities at all levels from GTAs to Professors across different institutions in a desire to see student experience and learning improved within Higher Education;
  3. I have attempted to develop an understanding of scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) within History as central to the epistemology of the subject itself and draw attention to this through research papers and seminars in order to engage most effectively with my peers in History. In many ways this is the clearest statement of a research-teaching link in my practice with regard to the discipline area in question.
  4. through my training and research into group work and psycho-dynamic approaches to psychology within Academic Development I have gained contacts within the fields of Psychology and Healthcare (Brief resume: 1999-current - Lecturer & Tutor on Postgraduate Taught Programmes: MSc Health Care, Faculty of Medicine and Nursing (seminars in: Interprofessionalism, Ethics and conflict: Theory and Practice in Health Organizations; Group Psycho-dynamics and Managing Change in Health Organizations); MSc Psychological Studies, Faculty of Education (seminar in Self and Identity: Gender, Sexuality and Developmental Psychology); M.A. /B.D. Honours Module: Body and Belief, Dept of Theology and Religious Studies).

On the strength of my cross disciplinary work I was awarded a Visiting Multi-disciplinary Research Fellows position in America in 2004.

I continue to work in three disciplines, though this has caused some tensions with respect both to RAE submissions and support for discipline-specific pedagogy as part of my scholarly activity profile. Throughout this period I have presented at international conferences in all three areas.

In April 2006 I was awarded a National Award for History Teaching in Higher Education. This is a nominated, competitive award given by the Subject Centre for History, Classics and Archaeology. These awards are offered in partnership with the following historical societies and groups: The Economic History Society,The Historical Association, History UK (HE), The Institute of Historical Research, The Royal Historical Society, and The Social History Society. The aim of the awards is to recognize and reward history teachers who have made an outstanding contribution to the growth and development of history teaching and student learning through their work in national, regional or institutional contexts, and to draw their achievements to the attention of the history community as a whole. I was partly awarded this on the strength of the partnership role that I have played between the disciplines of History and Academic Development, as well as my own multi-disciplinary approaches to teaching history and my publications in the field.

Current Interest in the Area

In my role as a member of the University of Glasgow’s Academic Development Unit I am already working in partnership with academics in the Arts and Humanities to explore how their research methods and methodologies can be used to inform and enhance their teaching practice. In some respects this is just part of my everyday activity as the Coordinator of the New Lecturer and Teacher Programme. I am also involved as an Institutional Representative in other QE areas (Integrative Assessment). As a current lecturer in both Theology (Ecclesiastical History) and aspects of Psychology, however, I am in a useful position of being able to develop partnerships across disciplines which, though identified as Arts and Social Sciences, actually do not at first glance have much in common.

(b) Dr Steve Draper (Psychology)

Draper has worked and published on various aspects of the use of technology in HE, particularly on Electronic Voting Systems (EVS). He is currently a partner in the SFC funded "Re-engineering assessment practices" project. That project is currently setting up an online conference on case studies of assessment practices, and issues on how to elicit, write, and present such case studies is now very much a focus for him and his collaborators. Dissemination is also increasingly a subject of study, and his EVS web site ( ) is widely used by UK adopters of the technology.