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Research-Based Learning Approaches

Research with academic colleagues and students at Warwick has surfaced four main ways in which teaching and research are inter-linked, namely:

Relationships between teaching and research

Teaching & research relationshipsOutcomes: Research outcomes informing the curriculum

Process: Research-process based methods of learning

Tools: Learning to use the tools of research

Context: Developing an inclusive research culture

The four areas described provide a framework for the identification of ways in which research activity surfaces in the curriculum and departmental teaching cultures.  

For a student to fully engage with, and gain maximum benefit from a research -based learning mode of teaching they should be encouraged to develop skills of a proficient researcher, including:

* being innovative
* working independently
* setting and solving problems
* analysing critically
* handling large quantities of information in a wide range of media

These capabilities require the presence of:

  • a body of disciplinary knowledge
  • techniques used within the discipline
  • higher order cognitive skills

What are higher order cognitive skills?

These include the abilities to:

  • make meaning, by interpreting information, forming and applying concepts and principles, critical analysis, synthesis into coherent wholes, generate ideas
  • using innovative thought, creativity take decisions
  • using procedures, algorithms, strategies, heuristics and judgements about applicability reflect on own purposes and processes, including justifications for judgments and decisions, possibilities of transferability

Crucially for this discussion, such capabilities can be viewed as two, essentially complimentary and mutually supportive learning methods. The first, adoptive learning, is essentially a reproductive process and is appropriate after a situation has been defined. It requires the application of well-understood knowledge, techniques and procedures. Adoptive learning can produce immediately impressive results but may be less transferable to other situations. Adaptive learning is a generative process that requires higher cognitive skills and produces innovation and creativity. An accomplished researcher will be skilled in adaptive learning and potentially will be well placed to help others to develop similar expertise.