In August 2016 Eve Mägi and Maarja Beerkens published a paper on the question whether research-active staff members teach in a different way than their less research-active colleagues.
With this paper they contribute to the discussion about dividing teaching and research tasks by taking a step back and collecting evidence at the level of individual academics. Having active researchers in front of the classroom does not mean automatically research-related teaching. This paper tests the assumption that research-active academic staff members are indeed different teachers than their less research-active colleagues. Do they incorporate their own research experience into their teaching practice? And how do they do that? The empirical analysis aims to answer two questions: (1) whether and how academic staff members apply research-related teaching practices, and (2) how teachers’ intrinsic interest in teaching versus interest in research affects the use of such practices. The authors use an existing data set from a national survey of academic staff members in Estonia and consider potential differences in the linkages across disciplines and the types of universities.
The authors observe that research-active teachers are more likely to incorporate research outcomes into teaching, to engage students in research groups, and co-publish with students. The effects vary across disciplines, types of institutions, and different practices. Furthermore, it is not only the research intensity of the teachers that matters, but it is their intrinsic interest in both teaching and research that seems to contribute most to the use of such practices. The results of this study show the benefit of protecting the research-teaching nexus for individual academics and the need to cultivate a commitment to both research and teaching in order to capitalise on the research-intensive environment.