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Teaching, research go hand in hand in academics

By : Daniel Richards

Members of an academic community are all too often locked into only conducting research or teaching, and such a separation presents a critical limitation to advancing a community of scholars, a BU professor recently told a group of state educators.

During a February 27 teleconference, Thomas O’Brien, associate professor in the School of Education and Human Development, said that teaching and research need to go hand and hand in academics. The separation of the two disciplines has been perceived as a problem in the scientific community’s approach to education.

The teleconference, which was titled “Teaching as Research and the Challenge of Change,” was viewed by members of the University’s academic community, along with academics at the universities at Albany, Buffalo and Stony Brook. It was the second in a series of interactive dialogues between the four research centers sponsored by the Center for Learning and Teaching.

“Every time a teacher walks into a classroom, he or she intentionally or unintentionally engages in one or more components of experimentation or research with the classroom as the lab,” O’Brien said. “Teachers need to see their teaching and research as not being necessarily separated. They need to overcome these difficulties to grow both individually as teachers and together as a learning organization.”

O’Brien suggests that teachers devise a plan for instruction similar to one they would make to conduct any kind of scientific research - one that has a hypothesis of the best instructional process for students, which is then “tested” and assessed to determine whether the instructional process was successful in helping the students meet certain goals.

Wayne Jones, associate professor of chemistry and deputy to the president, said he sees the teleconferences leading to new and effective collaborations. “The teleconferences are a good, low-cost option to bring together faculty from all four research centers to share their research and teaching experiences,” he said.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08