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The principal rationale for this research paper is to discuss the link between a lecturers Doctoral research activity and its perceived benefits or drawbacks for undergraduate students in todays’ Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s).The perceptions that six Doctoral academics have with regard to the impact their work has on such students was specifically investigated. In-depth interviews with them gleaned research results which demonstrate the degree to which their research activities have positive or negative consequences for undergraduate students.
Broadly speaking, three main types of activities were identified as having a positive impact, First was the topic-specific ‘cutting-edge’ knowledge that was perceived as beneficial to students. Secondly, the broad-based liberal learning ethos they brought to their teaching added value, whereby some students basked in their ‘reflected glory’.Thirdly,their specific research methods skills were of benefit, especially to Dissertation students. A contrary perspective identified the following three drawbacks. Firstly, sometimes a Doctoral research academics knowledge was ‘pitched’ at inappropriate or too high a level for undergraduate students’ abilities. The inaccessibility of such staff to these students was a second issue that was problematic.Thirdly, a disconnect between such academics and the actual ownership and relevance of such their work to the students and their future careers was examined.
McCauley, J.: How do Doctoral Research Academics Perceive their Research Activities to be of Benefit to Undergraduate Students? Proceedings of Inted 2011. International Technology, Education and Development Conference. Valencia, Spain. 7th-9th March, 2011.