Monday, July 20, 2009

Is Teaching an Extension of Research?

“Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought” - Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

Any academic institution should have both knowledge creation and knowledge dissemination. These are two sides of the same coin and one without the other has no meaning. However, in India we emphasize more on knowledge dissemination and less on knowledge creation. While knowledge creation is all about research and knowledge dissemination is about teaching. Premier institutions in India emphasis on these both and as a result, they have become the backbone for our country like IITs and IIMs and other reputed educational institutions.

As an individual is judged by the friends he or she maintains, an educational institution is also judged by the research it focuses. In western countries, research is stressed along with teaching, while it is not so in India. Very few premier educational institutions in India treat research as an integral part of teaching.

Example of Richards as a Researcher:

Richards having worked as a teaching faculty joined in a research center as a researcher where he had to deliver books in the domain of Soft Skills and Leadership Development. He had passion to author couple of books and, in fact, it was his lifetime ambition. Basically he had flair for writing and speaking. He thought that having couple of authored books would add value to his resume. In addition, he felt that it would also widen his intellectual base. After having several books written, he decided to come back to teaching which was his passionate area. When he went for an interview, the interviewing officer posed the question of joining back to teaching from research. The officer doubted whether Richards could deliver his goods effectively as a teaching faculty as he came from research background.

Richards replied that research becomes an integral part of teaching. He further added that a person coming from a research background could do better justification than a person coming from mere teaching background. He asserted that research was an extension of teaching and it would add value to teaching as he was backed and packed with lot of information, ideas and knowledge. The interviewing officer was impressed with the response and Richards was selected. Finally, Richards did commendable job as a teaching faculty far better than earlier i.e. when he merely had teaching but not research experience.

From the above case study of Richards, it becomes very clear about the importance and significance of research for ensuring qualitative teaching. It is necessary to blend both research and teaching for imparting qualitative and effective education.

Research Vs Teaching:

Research involves in knowledge creation and generation while teaching involves in knowledge dissemination. If research is the infrastructure then teaching is the superstructure. Research provides enriching experience for both faculty and students. It also promotes better relations and understanding between the teacher and the taught.

When a faculty member delivers teaching without having undergone any research there will be certain mental blocks and gaps while teaching. In contrast, when a researcher takes up teaching activity s/he is well equipped with vast knowledge. Since the faculty member has research background he or she is able to deliver lecture extempore. In addition, it enhances the confidence of the faculty member. The students will also enjoy the teaching sessions as the latest and unexplored areas are addressed while teaching. That means teaching beyond text books. There will be more arousal of students’ interest towards the teaching process resulting into effective imparting of knowledge and information and education. The faculty member also enjoys respect in the eyes of the students.

Students raise several questions during the course of interaction. It provides adequate triggers for the researcher to explore further and expand farther. It helps in out of the box thinking. Besides, it helps in reinforcing what is researched.

There is no point in doing research continuously and acquiring knowledge when it is not shared and imparted to the students. Knowledge grows when shared. Sharing of knowledge pays off for both faculty and students as there is an exchange of ideas, information, thoughts and knowledge. It unlocks creativity and generates new triggers for further research. People with research background can become more successful faculty than the one without.


It is time Indian Universities focused equally on research and teaching to impart quality education to the students. It would have ripple effect on the students and on the nation as a whole. Research is an integral part of teaching. Any separation between research and teaching jeopardizes the educational system adversely resulting into poor performance of students. Therefore, research and teaching must go together. We can go to the extent of concluding that teaching is an extension of research rather than the research is an extension of teaching.

The End

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