Dr. Anne C. Petersen
National Science Foundation
Remarks delivered at
The University of Wisconsin at Madison
June 18, 1996
Integrating Research and Education:
Can Those Who Do Research Also Teach?
I want to thank Dr. Jaleh Daie for inviting me to speak to you
I am very pleased to be here today but I am even more pleased
that all of you are here, especially given the topic.
I have entitled my remarks today, "Integrating Research and
Education: Can Those Who Do Research Also Teach?" I ask
this question because there has been concern expressed, both by
Congress and by the popular media that research university faculty
have increasingly neglected education, especially that of undergraduates.
A corollary concern is that young faculty must either choose research or choose teaching.
I think if we want to learn more about making choices and the
difficulty of balancing priorities--especially in the classroom--we
might look no further than the students on campus. I am reminded
of a dilemma faced by freshman student I once met:
After the first day of classes one year, I saw this young woman--clearly
a new student--looking despondent, so I asked what was wrong.
"One of my professors told the class that she demands the
best from every student in every course she teaches," the
young woman replied. "She doesn't care what other classes
we have--her course must be our No. 1 priority."
"What's wrong with that?" I asked.
"Nothing," she said. "But I have her for two classes
Certainly we are always going to face conflicting priorities--even
conflicting class schedules--but on the issue of research and
education, we must ask ourselves: is there such a conflict? And if so, should this be the case?
At the National Science Foundation, our support of both research
and education flows naturally from our stated mission: promoting
the progress of science and engineering.
NSF was created to support the pursuit of knowledge within an
environment of learning. This linkage between research and education
was explicitly recognized in Science: The Endless Frontier
, Vannevar Bush's seminal report that provided the blueprints
for NSF. The centerpiece of Bush's "program for action" was that "the government should accept new responsibilities for promoting the flow of scientific knowledge and the
development of scientific talent in our youth." 1 And I note
the word AND in that sentence!
The wisdom of this linkage has become increasingly evident with
the passage of time. In 1995, MIT President Charles Vest said
in a speech he delivered at Cornell, "The most valuable and
farsighted concept to emerge from the original [Vannevar] Bush
vision was that by supporting research in the universities, the
government would also be investing in the education of the next
generation--a beautiful and efficient concept. In short, every
dollar spent would be doing double duty. This integration of
teaching and research is at the heart of America's unique system
of research universities." More precisely, this is also the
oldest process by which knowledge has been both discovered and
passed on since the dawn of civilization, of course, not always
Perhaps the most unique and comprehensively beneficial feature
of American research universities is their integration of research
and education. The mutual benefits of faculty discovery and student
learning made U.S. universities distinctive relative to those
in other countries, and have created outstanding institutions
like the University of Wisconsin.
Many of the nation's research universities, however, are under
fire about the commitment to their educational mission. As I
stated in my opening, several media reports and some in Congress
have questioned the commitment to education on our research
university campuses. This criticism has caused some concern among
faculty and administrators.
The hot button questions are:
- Do faculty spend "too much time" on research at the
expense of teaching?
- Is research more generally given priority over education--for
example, in status, or in funding?
Unfortunately, the answers to these questions are complex, but
there are visible signs that the dual commitment to research and
education has deteriorated at some institutions of higher learning.
That is why it is up to us--both in academe and in government--to
provide some answers--because real or perceived, the questions
about the quality of education at our research universities demands
our immediate attention and thought. These questions are not
going to go away.
To help find some answers, let's begin as researchers by looking
at some of the data and the trends--those visible signs I talked
about--that are driving the concerns.
PERCENT OF TIME SPENT ON TEACHING AND ON RESEARCH
(all institutions - broken out by type of institution) 2
Here is a graph showing the "average" faculty member
with a doctorate in science and engineering. The graph compares
the time he or she spends teaching against the amount of time
- Looking at the first bars on the graph--we see the "average"
faculty member across academia. From this comparison, we might
conclude the concern over research and education is overblown
or overstated. This tells us that in 1993, science and engineering
faculty across all types of institutions spend more time teaching
than conducting research (44 percent of their time to 32 percent).
- The next set of bars, show the average for science and engineering
faculty at research universities. The distribution of time has
shifted so that over 40 percent of faculty time is spent on research.
Faculty at these institutions still spend a significant amount
of time teaching (over 30 percent). Perhaps more significantly,
a recent Department of Education survey of university and college
faculty shows that only about one-third of faculty in research
universities teach undergraduate courses, while the majority teach
little at all or mostly graduate students.
- And there are, of course, faculty members who spend the majority
of their work time teaching, and the majority of those teach undergraduates,
even in the research universities.
BUT, there are trends in the relative commitments of faculty to
research as compared to education at our academic institutions.
These trends indicated that that the balance between research
and education has shifted over the past 20 years in a profound
This graph shows trends in faculty responsibilities at all institutions.
DISTRIBUTION OF WORK RESPONSIBILITY FOR S&E FACULTY
ACROSS ALL ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS 3
- Here we see that the trend in faculty responsibility is clearly
toward research. The share of faculty members reporting that
research is their primary responsibility has increased from 19
percent in 1973 to 33 percent in 1993, while the share naming
teaching as their primary responsibility has declined from 69
percent to 53 percent over the same
period. 4 Now, this could be
viewed quite positively--the percent primarily engaged in research
DISTRIBUTION OF WORK RESPONSIBILITY FOR S&E FACULTY
AT RESEARCH UNIVERSITIES
- But now let's look at the responsibilities of faculty at research
universities--here the trend towards research becomes even more
- The top line on the graph shows the number of faculty at research
universities who report that their primary responsibility is research.
As you can see from the top line, the trend toward research by
faculty at the research universities has grown dramatically--165
percent between 1973 and 1993.
- On the other hand, the number of faculty who report teaching
as their primary responsibility at these institutions--has been
stagnant (about 3% growth over 20-year period).
What is the appropriate balance in the faculty role between research
and teaching? And what should the overall institutional balance
be at research universities? I certainly won't claim to have
the answers to these questions (or many other interesting ones
that we could pose such as whether the trends are driven by faculty
choice or funding by federal and other sources). But the trend
compels us to consider these issues.
Regardless of how one views the trends, they only tell part of
the story. A larger set of forces makes clear that the integration
of research and education deserves greater emphasis in the NSF's
programming and at academic institutions. Today's students will
spend their careers in a 21st century workplace that presents
complex and open-ended challenges. The students who will thrive
in this environment are those who have been educated in a discovery-rich
environment. In our educational programs at all levels, we have
aimed to engage students in inquiry, to excite them about discovery.
We know that research is really about learning. Faculty doing
research have at least two important assets for learning. First,
the process of research--of discovery--is an important way to
gain knowledge and is, in our view, an invaluable lifelong learning
approach for students. Second, faculty are usually passionate
about their research and that passion can more effectively communicate
why the research--and the resulting knowledge--are important.
The linkage of learning and research is central to NSF's mission.
It serves as one of the four core strategies in the NSF Strategic
Plan. We have already established a number of programs that integrate
research and education at the faculty level and at the disciplinary
level. To further the linkage at the institutional level in academia,
we have established a new activity, Recognition Awards for the
Integration of Research and Education.
The National Science Foundation is committed to the principle
of the integration of research and education at all levels of
education, and especially in our institutions of higher learning.
But we know that the Foundation cannot unilaterally describe
or define this principle for those who are tasked with its implementation.
In fact, the reverse must be the prevailing case. You, the faculty,
can best define and describe your successful activities at integrating
research and education so that they may serve as examples and
models for other institutions. As well, they will provide NSF
with information on the panoply of activities that are achieving--
as we speak--the very goals intended.
Through the application and award process for this Recognition
Award, we are inviting you in our premier research universities
to teach us the diverse and rich nature of activity that qualifies
for the rubric "integrating research and education."
We know that there have been many effective and instructive efforts
that have permitted institutions to capitalize on the strengths
of engaging in both discovery and learning for the missions of
research, teaching, and public service. NSF wants to play a constructive
role in recognizing, rewarding, and helping to replicate these
achievements throughout the research university community.
Up to ten universities among the applicants will be awarded $500,000
to enhance their already successful efforts, and to document or
evaluate and disseminate information on their institution's approach
and outcome. Those institutions that apply and are not chosen
for the monetary award are, nevertheless, contributors and mentors
also. All the applications will provide valuable information
and perspective for us throughout NSF. We intend to distribute
and discuss your diverse examples among agency staff as a mechanism
for expanding our own understanding and to plan further NSF activities
in this area.
Let me not, however, leave the impression that our work at NSF
will be only to reinforce the success stories of integrating research
and education. In some cases, the task will instead resemble
reinvigoration. There are those more radical who would use the
word reinvent. In a larger sense, the goal is the same. The
last several decades have validated the stunning contributions
of this unique American concept of higher education in the research
university. Our collective task will be to perpetuate and enhance
its continued contributions.
As I mentioned earlier, NSF has developed several programs that
encourage and reward individuals engaged in both research and
education. Many of you may be familiar with them. For example,
the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is designed
specifically to support junior faculty in these efforts.
In creating the Recognition Award, our goal was to move NSF's
efforts in integrating research and education up to the institutional
level. We believe it is important to both recognize and capitalize
on the leadership role that whole institutions, as well as individuals,
can play in influencing directions and trends in higher education.
The experience and information from the Recognition Awards' process
will provide the context for the next set of NSF programs to promote
further the integration of research and education. For I strongly
believe that the answer to the question: Can those who do research
also teach? is a resounding Yes!
Research and education are not mutually exclusive. They are different
aspects of a single learning paradigm. We need to break down
some of the artificial barriers that have increasingly separated
the research of our university faculty from the education of the
next generation of scientists and engineers.
That is why I am enthusiastic about the creation of this new partnership
between our research universities and the Foundation. We have
much to share. The universities, the federal government, and the
nation as a whole are responding to new demands, both internal
and external. Important among them is a workforce educated "to
learn how to learn," and to adapt to rapid local, national
and global shifts. Out of those changes will also come new opportunities.
I look forward to sharing the challenge as well as the benefits
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