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Teaching Excellence Workshop

On 30 and 31 March 2017, Botho University’s Teaching Excellence Department held its Teaching Excellence Talks at in its Gaborone and Francistown campuses, under the theme, “Research Led Teaching: The Challenges and Implications of The Nexus For Academic Staff and Students.” This theme was influenced by the rising importance of research in higher education today. Over the past few decades research has grown in leaps and bounds, as now being seen as a key factor that can enhance the quality of teaching and learning. The theme was facilitated by Prof Mogege, who is currently a Chief Research Specialist in the Education and Skills Development Programme at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) in Pretoria, South Africa. Prof Mogege highlighted that the notion of ‘a symbiotic relationship between research and teaching constitutes the very core of higher education’, and it has served as an important cornerstone for many higher education institutions. These two core strands of activity are commonly referred to as a ‘research-teaching’ nexus. He defined Research Led Teaching as ‘the use of the teacher’s disciplinary research to benefit student learning and outcomes’. Prof Mogege indicated that there is much discussion and debate in the literature on the relationship between teaching and research, which range from being incompatible to being mutually beneficial. Despite this growth, many challenges still remain in Universities to bridge the gap between teaching and research. This is largely due to various factors, like the absence of policies to monitor, develop and maximise this relationship. Another challenge to facilitating this relationship is that sometimes research and teaching may pull in opposite directions in terms of demands on staff time and institutional and external drivers. This therefore becomes an institutional as well as an individual challenge to promote and sustain such synergy and ensure that research and teaching are not experienced as mutually exclusive activities.

Despite these challenges, the benefits of research led teaching are felt mainly by the students, with the following being highlighted

  • Deeper understanding of the knowledge bases of the disciplines and professions which they are studying
  • Development of intellectual capabilities and inter-personal skills;
  • Enhanced engagement in their studies.

In addition, he highlighted the difference that a Research Led Institution had from others, and the following were some of the characteristics:

  • Research active staff;
  • A culture of inquiry;
  • Evidence-based teaching;
  • A community of scholars;
  • Research aligned teaching;
  • Teaching-led research.

He concluded by over-emphasizing the overall benefit of research led Teaching, and the fact that a university that partners teaching with research will produce highly effective and efficient scholars who can take up any responsibility given to them in the workplace.

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