The Times Higher Education (10/1/08) – in its all new glossy splendor – reports that staff at Gloucestershire will be encouraged to think of students as fellow researchers to erode the idea of passive learning. Huzzah!
When the BA LTR launched in 2003 a decision was taken to call our students researchers. Internally we use this term and externally in most instances.There are though occassions when to use researcher not student causes confusion, when writing about the research in to the research of the researcher that was carried out by researchers it can get a little confusing! I jest but to make research on teaching and learning accessible, familiar terms have been called for amongst some external audiences.
Our degree is research led and in this way it was a simple choice of term. But the term researcher was used not just to reflect the way in which learners learnt but also to recognise the journey that we staff and ‘students’ are on together – together, trying to better understand issues of teaching and learning in an online work-based inquiry led degree.
A culture of co-research was absolutely essential in developing the course, establishing good practice, establishing change and improvement and in formalising tacit knowledge. Mutual respect is an essential ingredient in a culture of co-research, everyone needs to be heard and trust their ideas will be valued. A threat to this model would be complacency – in a world of change I believe that learners being co-researchers in the teaching and learning process provides a safe-guard against stagnation. The culture offers a means through which higher education institutions can stay in touch with the changing needs of students and together use creativeness and innovation to develop, adapt, improve and thrive in learning. Using the term researcher is much more than a quirky name change.