Key Features

At the heart of the concept are a set of key features. These are described below:

Discovery: Student as Producer

The programme or module should be presented in a discovery mode, which in HE is usually characterised as one of the following:

Problem – based learning (PBL)

A student-centered approach where students collaboratively solve problems and reflect on their experiences. Characteristics of PBL are:

  • Learning is driven by challenging, open-ended problems
  • Students work in small collaborative groups
  • Teachers extend their role to becomes facilitators of learning
  • Students are encouraged to take responsibility for their group and organise and direct the learning process with support from a tutor or instructor
  • Library staff will provide support to ensure effective use of information resources by students and staff

Enquiry – based learning (EBL)

EBL describes an environment in which learning is driven by a process of enquiry owned by the student

  • Starting with a ‘scenario’ and with the guidance of a facilitator, students identify  their own issues and questions
  • Students examine the resources they need to research the topic, provided as part of Learning Development@Lincoln, thereby acquiring the requisite knowledge. Knowledge so gained is more readily retained because it has been acquired by experience and in relation to a real  problem.

Research – based learning (RBL)

Research-based learning is an approach to programme design and implementation in which students have the opportunity to make intellectual and practical connections between the content and skills that characterise their programmes, and the research approaches and frontiers of the underlying disciplines. This includes:

  • Systematic introduction of disciplinary related research into the course content and teaching
  • Inclusion of research methodology courses in the undergraduate program
  • Design of learning activities based on authentic research problems in the public domain that involve engagement with the wider community
  • Access to support and instruction in the use of information resources.

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Technology in Teaching: Digital Scholarship

Research engaged teaching implies a change in the relationship between tutor and student.  This changed relationship is facilitated by web 2, and is evident in various web-based activities, for example, commons-based peer-production, and Personal Learning Environments based on user choice of available tools to complete educational tasks

The changing relationship between tutor and student and the emergence of the concept of Digital Scholarship can be facilitated by Web 2.0 technologies in that they embed the following characteristics:

  • Identity – a way of uniquely identifying users in the system
  • Messaging – a synchronous way of communicating online in  real time
  • Relationships – a way of describing how users within the system are related to one another
  • Communities – a way of forming groups with a common interest
  • Reputation – a way of knowing the status other users in the system.

Tutors can demonstrate their use of technologies in teaching by the ways in which they use Blackboard and other web-based technologies, as well as other methods of enabling digitialised scholarship and collaboration between tutors and students. These might include the use of online tutorials, and the embedding of information and resource learning objects in the teaching process. Research – engaged teaching and learning is not dependent on technology, but rather on the quality of the relationship between student and teacher. In this context technology is regarded as an enabler rather than an essential ingredient of the teaching and learning process, facilitating an engaging intellectual relationship between students and staff (JISC 2009). 

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Space and spatiality: Learning Landscapes in HE

The use of space and spatiality in teaching is  recognised as an important aspect of the new learning landscape (Dugdale 2009, Neary et al 2010).  In programme and module planning, tutors can show how they intend to use space in their teaching practice so as to:

  • Facilitate participation and collaboration
  • Engage with the community outside of the campus
  • Make use of formal and informal spaces
  • Ensure their teaching is accessible for students with diverse needs
  • Engage with spaces in the Library and elsewhere on and off campus to deliver enhanced teaching experiences.

The use of both physical and virtual space is an important aspect of teaching, with increased use of virtual space facilitated by Web 2.0, evolving VLE and increased personalisation as outlined above.  Use of IT in physical space is also more important than ever in an environment where personal preference and collaboration are paramount.

In particular, there is a heightened need to provide a robust and consistent IT infrastructure and to provide support for student owned devices connected wirelessly.  Well-designed general access IT is also required with greater consideration given to distribution and standards of IT services within the overall campus design. These requirements drive review of desktop computer, audiovisual and print service provision. (Kompen et al 2008)

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Assessment and Feedback: Active Learning in Communities of Practice

Tutors should show the ways in which their assessments reflect the discovery mode of teaching and learning, taking account of learning development support provided by the Library, so as to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their research skills, techniques, findings, outcomes and outputs.

The assessments should be designed to engage students so that they make sense of academic  assessment and marking criteria, and by involving them in the process of designing assessment as well as in marking through peer assessment, group assessment and self assessment, as well as feedback (

Research-engaged teaching is inherently practice-based. Practice – based subjects should demonstrate the ways in which research is incorporated into their assessment criteria.

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Research and Evaluation: Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 

Evaluation of teaching practices includes student feedback, but can go beyond the collection of feedback by involving staff and students in a programme of pedagogical research into their own learning and teaching experiences.

A key aspect of research-engaged teaching is that it is informed by pedagogical research into the effectiveness of this form of teaching and learning


Tutors should demonstrate the way in which they intend to research their research-engaged teaching activities, based on research methods and methodologies.

Tutors should demonstrate the way in which this research will be disseminated across UL and the sector so as to achieve maximum impact. This can include ways in which this work can be used to apply for external funding. 

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Student Voice:  Diversity, Difference and Dissensus

The issue of student leadership is becoming increasingly important in the HE sector . The issue is related to the government’s intention to develop a new style of politics and citizen engagement within which the student voice is not only heard, but amplified (HEFCE 2009).

The emphasis on the Student Voice reflects the ways in which Student as Producer is dedicated to developing a community of learners and teachers which is respectful of diversity and difference, allowing for the space of dissensus and disagreement, driven by engaged and participatory pedagogies (CLIP 2008).

Programmes should identify specific ways to amplify the student voice, and to develop ways of working with students by giving them responsibility for the management and delivery of their own learning. Programmes should also demonstrate ways in which students might support the learning of other students. 

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Support for research- based teaching and learning through expert engagement with information resources

Programmes should seek to engage with the University Library service to integrate the development of skills in, and the use of information resources in their programmes. Academic Subject Librarians are trained and equipped to work with academics to support this process. 

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Creating the future: employability, enterprise, postgraduate, beyond employability

Student as Producer retains a clear focus on the experience of students when they leave the university.  Student as Producer supports the career preparation and aspirations of students, in the form of a traditional route into the professions, working within an SME, creating a new start business, employment within the growing third sector or going on to further study.

Student as Producer maintains that research-engaged teaching and learning is more likely to result in graduates who are better prepared to cope with a globalised labour market which is characterised by ever-changing technology and working practices which include

  • Project working
  • Networking & collaboration
  • Judged by results
  • Distance working
  • Less formal anything
  • Enlist support rather than command & conquer

Forms of research engaged teaching, e.g., problem-based learning, are now widely used in the teaching of professionals e.g., medicine and law. Curricula based on research engaged teaching can be enriched by sourcing employers and work-based projects for research activity.

Research engaged teaching can provide the skills and qualities that will be useful to students when they leave the university to prepare them for a world of uncertainty and complexity, where they need to find forms of existing that lie outside of the traditional formats, and  in ways that lie beyond what a mainstream education might normally prepare them for ( Barnett 2001,   Brew 2006).

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