Ulster University has recognised the importance of a research-teaching nexus (RTN) and has specified the integration of research and teaching as a key principle. Some key benefits of an RTN are listed in Table 1.1. This toolkit has the aim of helping to inspire and guide academics on the use of an RTN in-line with Ulster’s Strategy, including as defined within the Student Learning Experience Principles. The toolkit provides practical pedagogic support to academic staff members, across the different faculties.There is a particular emphasis within the toolkit on the use of more active, inquiry-based approaches to student learning in an RTN. Inquiry-based learning is a student-centred pedagogical approach that enables learners to ask questions, investigate problems and synthesise knowledge, and form evidence-based conclusions, whilst also collaborating with others such as their peers and professional researchers (Attard et al, 2021; Melville, 2015). Such an approach requires the use of specific learning activities to engage students with “profession-specific knowledge and practices” (Spernes and Afdal, 2021). Inquiry-based learning involves students actively gathering information, exploring the ideas of others, evidencing, and developing their own ideas, and making new discoveries, therefore, progressing from a phase of learning to real research, and being able to contribute to new knowledge creation (Spernes and Afdal, 2021; Levy and Petrulis, 2012). The toolkit extends beyond the theoretical categorisation and modelling of RTN activities as discussed in Section 2 ‘Research-Teaching Nexus in Practice’, (see for example, Clark and Hordosy, 2019; Healey et al., 2010; White and Irons, 2007; Boyer, 2002), by providing more practical information, expanding primarily upon Healey’s types of RTN adopted by Ulster, and as informed and customised by studying the literature, survey findings (from Ulster academics), and case studies. For an in-depth discussion of the literature and other research findings, see Section 8 ‘Scholarship’.

A practical framework is presented in Section 3 ‘Activities’ which provides a gateway to a wide range of potential RTN activities with respect to various student learning and assessment approaches, including a consideration for passive and active learning activities, and teacher-led and student-led activities. Potential competencies that can be developed through an RTN, and embedded within learning outcomes, are discussed in Section 4 ‘Competencies’. RTN case studies are presented from the perspectives of Ulster staff in Section 5 ‘Case Studies’, that can provide insight into the experiences of RTNs. We hope to add more case studies soon. Checklists are provided in Section 6 ‘Checklists’ to help guide RTN idea generation and decision-making. These can be used as cognitive aids to reflect and identify ways to integrate research into teaching. A series of resources are also provided in Section 7 ‘Resources’. All references can be found in Section 10 ‘References’. It is also possible to leave feedback on this toolkit via the methods detailed in Section 9 ‘Feedback’.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputPDF
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 15 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funded by Ulster University


  • Research teaching nexus
  • Pedagogy
  • Higher Education


Dive into the research topics of 'Research-Teaching Nexus Toolkit'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this