There has been a growing research debate over the relations between university teaching and research. This paper contributes to that debate by describing the variation in the way university academics' experience research, then linking that empirical evidence with previous work to explicate the relations between variation in research, teaching, and understanding of the subject matter being taught. Previous investigations have shown that conceptual change/student-focussed approaches to teaching are associated with clear articulation of the important aspects of the subject matter being taught, how those aspects relate to each other, and how the teacher situates their understanding of the subject matter in the field as a whole. However, teachers who were unable to explain their understanding of their subject matter in these ways were more likely to experience their teaching as a process of information transfer from a teacher-focussed perspective. Since the characteristics of the first type of understanding subject matter resemble processes underlying the experience of active researchers, these findings seemed to justify a more intensive search for evidence of the link between effective university teaching and research. Interviews have been conducted with 37 university teachers who had strong publication and grant success records and who were teaching and researching in similar topic areas. They represent a range of disciplines and universities, and from both the UK and Australia. The study methods and results are described and we conclude that qualitative variation in the experience of research is related (a) moderately to experience of teaching and (b) strongly to experience of understanding the subject matter.
- Approaches to teaching
- Experience of research
- Experience of teaching
- Research-teaching relations
- Understanding of subject matter