If research is related to teaching then research could have a direct contributions to teaching. However, if research is not directly related to teaching, then how can each of them contribute to the other?

  • Hello, could you please maybe provide a bit more background? What is your field and what is the position type - professor, TA, independent researcher (think French CR1 at CNRS), ...? – yo' Jan 25 '15 at 23:27
  • Hi, I guess disciplines and positions won't make a big difference. Assume computing or engineering major applying for assistant professor position. – Thomas Lee Jan 25 '15 at 23:32
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    It seems like the question in the body of your post is different from the one in your title; specifically, the question in the body asks how you should answer the question in the title (when applying for an assistant professor position, as I gather from your comment.) You should answer it truthfully: how does your research contribute to your teaching and vice versa? No one here can answer that for you. – Trevor Wilson Jan 26 '15 at 0:08
  • @TrevorWilson my teaching is not directly related to my research, so this creates some confusion on how to answer such question. – Thomas Lee Jan 26 '15 at 0:38
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    The only good answer depends on how your research informs your teaching and vice versa. – JeffE Jan 26 '15 at 2:39

Personally, I struggle coming up with good teaching materials (lecture notes, homework questions, et cetera). I had lots of teachers that were either way too abstract where abstraction wasn't necessary, or gave really wacky examples that didn't have much basis in real life, and I silently vowed not to do that to my own students. One way that I've found to present real-life and relevant material is to draw upon my research. For example, if I'm lecturing about a particular biological system that I study, I might walk the class through a particular experiment that I ran to test an aspect of the system. I find that students feel these lectures are the most interesting, and they seem to grasp the material better than if I gave a "standard" lecture.

On the flip side, I always get 1-2 questions per semester where I don't know the answer, and it turns out no one else in my field does either. As such, the questions I get while teaching are a source of research questions that I may attempt to answer. If I actually think the question can be answered, I almost always invite the student or students who posed the question to help me with the research, which is also another way teaching impacts research (i.e., I expose more people to what research is, and I get help doing it).

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  • +1 for "If I actually think the question can be answered, I almost always invite the student or students who posed the question to help me with the research" – WetlabStudent Jan 26 '15 at 2:48

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