Does Faculty Research Improve Undergraduate Teaching? An Analysis of Existing and Potential Synergies

Authors

  • Michael J. Prince,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Chemical Engineering Bucknell University
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    • Michael Prince is a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Bucknell University, where he has been since receiving his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1989. He is the author of several education-related papers for engineering faculty and gives faculty development workshops on active learning. He is currently continuing the work of Project Catalyst, an NSF-funded initiative to help faculty re-envision their role in the learning process, and researching the use of inductive teaching methods to correct common student misconceptions in engineering.

  • Richard M. Felder,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Chemical Engineering North Carolina State University
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    • Richard M. Felder is Hoechst Celanese Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering at North Carolina State University. He received his B.ChE. from City College of New York and his Ph.D. from Princeton University. He is coauthor of the text Elementary Principles of Chemical Processes (Wiley, 2005) and co-director of the ASEE National Effective Teaching Institute.

  • Rebecca Brent

    Corresponding author
    1. Education Designs, Inc.
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    • Rececca Brent is an education consultant specializing in faculty development for effective university teaching, classroom and computer-based simulations in teacher education, and K-12 staff development in language arts and classroom management. She codirects the ASEE National Effective Teaching Institute and has published articles on a variety of topics including writing in undergraduate course, cooperative learning, public school reform and effective university teaching.


Department of Chemical Engineering, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania 17837; e-mail: prince@bucknell.edu.

Department of Chemical Engineering, N.C. State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-7905; e-mail: rmfelder@mindspring.com.

Education Designs, Inc., 101 Lochside Drive, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-7905; e-mail: rbrent@mindspring.com.

Abstract

Academicians have been arguing for decades about whether or not faculty research supports undergraduate instruction. Those who say it does—a group that includes most administrators and faculty members—cite many ways in which research can enrich teaching, while those on the other side cite numerous studies that have consistently failed to show a measurable linkage between the two activities. This article proposes that the two sides are debating different propositions: whether research can support teaching in principle and whether it has been shown to do so in practice. The article reviews the literature on the current state of the research-teaching nexus and then examines three specific strategies for integrating teaching and scholarship: bringing research into the classroom, involving undergraduates in research projects, and broadening the definition of scholarship beyond frontier disciplinary research. Finally, ways are suggested to better realize the potential synergies between faculty research and undergraduate education.

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