Research-led teaching in higher education: Perspectives of Cambodian and New Zealand academics
Research and teaching are the core mission of most universities in the "knowledge society" during the 21st century. However, the exact nature of the connection between research and teaching is not obvious. The purpose of this study was, therefore, to contribute to the debate by investigating how research was used to inform teaching and to benefit student learning. The study also intended to identify the benefits and drawbacks of Research-Led Teaching (RLT) for academics as well as to examine what scholars considered to be the main supports and challenges academics experienced while practicing RLT. A qualitative single-case study was employed for this study. The perceptions and experiences from twelve academics from a university in Cambodia and another in New Zealand (NZ) were collected using semi-structure interviews. Official documents such as university policy, position descriptions from each university and course outlines or syllabi from each participant were collected for the purpose of document analysis. This study provided an understanding of RLT and the current practices of academics. Four conceptualizations of RLT emerged: teaching informed by academics' own research; teaching informed by other people's recent research; teaching that promoted student engagement in research; and teaching informed by academics' performance research. The findings indicated that the benefits of RLT outweigh the drawbacks. The lack of support was the main challenge for Cambodian participants. However, some participants suggested personal commitment, and institution accountability were important factors that support RLT. Perceptions and experiences that academics in Cambodian and NZ tertiary education have about the practices of RLT provide a useful basis for consideration of possible changes and how to implement such changes. Recommendations to enhance the practice of RLT include the emphasis of RLT in position descriptions and strategies to promote the implementation of RLT in institutions to ensure the improvement of student learning. Academic professional development and university supports are also needed for enhancing RLT practices.