Faculty to discuss research, teaching

By Grant Miller

Two NIU professors will be speaking Friday on the ways in which formal and informal research can be used to improve teaching methods.

NIU professor and instructional consultant Frank Bazeli and Presidential Teaching Professor in accountancy Richard Baker will be speaking on “The Scholarship of Teaching” at noon Friday in the Holmes Student Center, room 305.

The program will be sponsored by the Faculty Instructional Council Office and the Committee for the Improvement of Undergraduate Education.

Formal and informal research not only have different processes for gathering information, but also have different uses, according to Baker.

Formal research usually involves publishing data and also gives educators “more room for manipulation in obtaining information,” he said.

Informal research is done by direct observation and usually does not include publication of information gathered.

“This often can provide feedback on a professors ideas,” Baker said. “But it does not allow the same degree of control that formal research does.”

The understanding that both these forms of research can be used to improve teaching styles is very important.

“The body of knowledge on teaching has increased dramatically,” Bazeli said. “We can improve our own teaching by tapping this rich source, and by carrying out our own informal classroom research projects.”

To make an improvement in their teaching styles, professors must be willing to accept some change, Baker said.

“You must be able to question what you are doing,” he said. “The individual teacher must be willing to change and want to improve their teaching method.”

The combination of research and teaching is not a new trend. Most teachers desire to do research and publish so they remain current in their field, he said.

Because of this, Baker said he finds the idea of education research necessary. “Educational research crosses all lines,” he said. “Teaching ties all of academia together.”

Baker advises those interested in doing research to read journals that address the issues in their discipline.

“The library is a wonderful place,” Baker said. “The journals at the library have a wealth of literature on many educational research topics.”