Friday, August 19, 2011

Teaching Improves Research in STEM Fields

In an intriguing study published in the August 19, 2011 issue of Science, entitled, Graduate Students’ Teaching Experiences Improve Their Methodological Research Skills, researchers, using a performance rubric, compared the quality of methodological skills demonstrated in written research proposals for two groups of early career graduate students (those with both teaching and research responsibilities and those with only research responsibilities) in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields at the beginning and end of an academic year. They found that students who both taught and conducted research demonstrate significantly greater improvement in their abilities to generate testable hypotheses and design valid experiments. Their conclusion: These results indicate that teaching experience can contribute substantially to the improvement of essential research skills.

The Chronicle of Higher Education ran an interesting commentary on this study, Want to Be A Good Researcher? Try Teaching.

The article noted that one might expect similar conclusions in the social sciences and quoted several economists and studies.

Our doctoral students at the Isenberg School of Management are required to show competency in teaching before receiving their PhDs, which is, typically, demonstrated by their teaching of two undergraduate courses.

This also helps them on the job market, assuming that they pursue an academic career, as many of them do.

Now, with this study, our Management Science PhD students can further reap the fruits of their labors.

And, as I wrote in my earlier post, the Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman suspected this all along!