The De Montfort University (DMU) Centre for Pedagogic Research aims to establish DMU’s international reputation for excellence in pedagogic research.
The Centre’s focus is on catalysing research in teaching and learning, focusing primarily on higher education. The aim will be to develop rigorous and distinctive, high-quality research on behalf of the university and external funders, which feeds into policy and practice developments. Research outputs target international, peer-reviewed journals, alongside practical guidance for policy-makers and practitioners. DMU has a wide range of expertise which crosses disciplinary boundaries, and agreeing a strategy will scale educational research and evaluation which is high quality, accessible and has practical application.
The Scholarly DMU Educator
The Centre will enable the creation of a culture that nurtures the idea of the ‘Scholarly DMU Educator’. The Scholarly DMU Educator has both the subject skills, practices and knowledge, and a specific engagement with relevant research related to teaching, learning and assessment. The latter connects to the Higher Education Academy’s national Professional Standards Framework (UK PSF), which contains a series of statements that articulate the expectations for professional educators within HE who are both educational and subject experts. The UK PSF maintains that professional practice should be informed by scholarship, research, and professional development, and be evidence-based. Thus, the Scholarly DMU Educator places professional practice at the centre of her work, focused upon:
- Enhancement of persona practice;
- Developmental Sharing of Practice; and
- Scholarship of Practice: the scholarly Educator.
The value in developing a pedagogic research culture at DMU is two-fold.
- It benefits the practitioner who gains the opportunity to reflect on her practice and also a better understanding of the pedagogical life of her classroom.
- There is also value for the general academic population when good practice is shared/ published, and lecturers can then use this research to improve their practice.
DMU as a Scholarly University
De Montfort University has a track-record in pedagogic innovation and practice. It has a Teacher Fellow (TF) network with a decade-long history, and it has produced 13 National Teaching Fellows (NTF). Through internal and externally-funded projects, using mechanisms like JISC and HEA calls (e.g. curriculum delivery and open educational resources), Teaching Quality Enhancement Fund and Teaching Innovation Fund, DMU has a long track-record of winning pedagogic innovation grants.
As the University’s Strategic Plan argues, a corporate step-change in pedagogic appreciation, innovation and research is required in order to position DMU appropriately:
it will be important for us to focus our efforts on [our] achievements, and we will need to ensure that: curricula are top quality and our measures of teaching quality evidence this; we understand and promote distinctive academic courses to give ourselves a sustainable competitive advantage; we promote distinctive elements of our curricula (including promoting learner autonomy, understanding and embracing sustainability, preparing our students for employment and graduate prospects, and valuing the influence of our research on undergraduate teaching); and the benefits of learning in an international educational environment are well communicated.
This connection between current and future trends is amplified by the University Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy:
De Montfort University values teaching and research equally and is committed to the provision of a supportive environment so that staff can further enhance student-centred learning, research-informed teaching and teaching-informed research.
The strategic context for pedagogic research at DMU is also framed by the University’s Research Strategy aim to frame research that is socially useful and for the public good. In particular:
- the Centre underpins Theme 2: Researcher Development and Research Leadership, of the Research Strategy. Developing a pedagogic research strategy demonstrates our commitment to creating a critical mass at the interface of pedagogic research and innovative practice.
- This work is also based on the public good of DMU’s established and emergent research, and as such it amplifies the DMU Research Strategy’s Theme 3: Impact and Visibility of our Research. Pedagogic research is based on and extends the collaborative research and practice across the whole of DMU, and enhances an internationally-successful area of knowledge exchange and transfer.
The Centre will catalyse a dialectical corporate/devolved approach to managing pedagogic research and innovation. The Centre will engage with this dialectic in scaling DMU’s extant pedagogic innovation and communities of practice, in order to build a distinctive pedagogic research environment.