May 17, 2024

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Bridging the gap between research and teaching through research-led teaching

In the realm of academia, the symbiotic relationship between research and teaching is often underestimated (Schapper & Mayson, 2010). While teaching traditionally involves the dissemination of established knowledge, research-led teaching takes it a step further by integrating cutting-edge research into the educational experience.

Fundamentally, research-led teaching proposes the idea of bridging the gap between theory and practice. It involves incorporating the latest research findings, methodologies, and debates into the classroom, ensuring that students are exposed to the most up-to-date knowledge in their field of study. This approach encourages students to engage actively with the subject matter, question existing paradigms, and contribute to the ongoing discourse within their discipline (Jenkins & Healey, 2005).

By immersing students in active research environments, research-led teaching cultivates critical thinking skills. Students learn to evaluate evidence, analyse data, and construct well-reasoned arguments, preparing them for academic and professional challenges (Angouri, 2021). It leads to better learning outcomes by providing students with firsthand experience in applying theoretical concepts to real-world problems (Holbrook & Devonshire, 2005). This practical application deepens their understanding and retention of the subject matter (Smyth, Davila, Sloan Rykers, Backwell & Jones, 2016). It equipped students with research skills and practical experience as students are better prepared for both professional careers and further academic study (Smyth, Davila, Sloan Rykers, Backwell & Jones, 2016). Research-led teaching instils a sense of intellectual curiosity and prepares students to navigate complex challenges in their chosen field (King, Bowe, Sprake & Kinchin, 2011).

Among the teaching and learning activities that promote research-led teaching are incorporating recent related journal articles and research paper into course readings (Maguire, English & Draper, 2023). This will expose students to the latest advancements and debates in the field of study. Students can be involved more actively in research by having them to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world problems. This can be done by lecturers designing research projects and case studies which later foster critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Of course, providing opportunities for students to engage in laboratory experiments, fieldwork, or internship can be examples of activities that can refine students’ inquiry, and enhance analysing skills that are very much needed in research (King et al., 2011).

At its core, research-led teaching represents a paradigm shift in higher education, transforming students from passive consumers of knowledge into active participants in the research process. By integrating cutting-edge research into the curriculum, educators can empower students to become critical thinkers, innovators, and lifelong learners. Embracing research-led teaching not only enhances learning outcomes but also equips students with the skills and knowledge needed to address the complex challenges of the 21st century. Educators are encouraged to harness the power of research-led teaching to unlock the full potential of our students and inspire the next generation of scholars, innovators, and change-makers.


1. Angouri, J. (2021). Reimagining Research-led Education in a Digital Age (The Guild Insight Paper No. 3). The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities and Bern Open Publishing. DOI: 10.48350/156297
2. Brew, A. (2003). Teaching and research: New relationships and their implications for inquiry-based teaching and learning in higher education. Higher Education Research & Development, 22(1), 3-18.
3. Healey, M., & Jenkins, A. (2009). Developing undergraduate research and inquiry. York: Higher Education Academy.
4. Holbrook, N. J., & Devonshire, E. (2005). Simulating scientific thinking online: an example of research‐led teaching. Higher Education Research & Development, 24(3), 201-213.
5. Jenkins, A., Healey, M., & Zetter, R. (2007). Linking teaching and research in disciplines and departments. York: Higher Education Academy.
6. King, A. J., Bowe, J. E., Sprake, J. A., & Kinchin, I. M. (2011). In vivo laboratory practicals in research-led teaching: An example using glucose tolerance tests in lean and obese mice. Journal of Pharmacological and Toxicological Methods, 64(2), 168-172.
7. Maguire, J., English, R., & Draper, S. (2023, January). led active learning sessions in cyber security through research paper reading. In Proceedings of the 7th Conference on Computing Education Practice (pp. 33-36).
8. Schapper, J., & Mayson, S. E. (2010). Research‐led teaching: Moving from a fractured engagement to a marriage of convenience. Higher Education Research & Development, 29(6), 641-651.
9. Smyth, L., Davila, F., Sloan, T., Rykers, E., Backwell, S., & Jones, S. B. (2016). How science really works: the student experience of research-led education. Higher Education, 72, 191-207.

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