As an academic, I have always assumed that a positive nexus exists between teaching and research. Sadly, this assumption is flawed and the existence of such a nexus has been contested over the last two decades with a number of quantitative studies concluding that there is a negative or a zero nexus between these two activities. This is despite the fact that the implementation of a positive nexus between teaching and research is beneficial to learners.
For example, such a nexus may mean that efficient teachers are active researchers who use their research to enliven the classroom. This in turn may help in deepening the knowledge and understanding of students of complex legal issues as students may perceive the class to be more stimulating and challenging. The learners are also motivated by the enthusiasm and the interests that the academics have toward their research and teaching subject. Teaching after all both educates and entices future scholars.
Further, the staff’s research interest may provide students with the perception that the subject taught is up to date. This is especially important in law where students need to be aware of the latest development in the legal issues they are studying. The specialisation of academics also provides them with credibility in the eye of the students as they are being taught by an expert in the field and not a passive spectator. This is important as students may expect the academics to share with them their experiences of research conducted in the field.
Additionally, the research interest of the academics may give students ‘the opportunity to see teachers as real people and to be able to see what they do, how and why’. This, in turn, allows the learners to build relationships with the lecturers as the academics are viewed as people and learners. The implementation of a positive nexus consequently may help the academics to create a genuine student-centred education which ultimately benefits the learner.
Accordingly, a positive nexus between teaching and learning should not only be promoted by academics but by the universities to ensure our students have the best possible experience in their degree. Let the scholarship of learning and teaching flourish!