Enhancing Quality in Education Through Practice-Based Research

President Calls for More Practice-Based Research

In the Netherlands, research among lecturers and staff at universities of applied sciences is less compared to research universities, since the former are basically more practical and profession oriented. However, at Wittenborg, it is greatly valued and recent months have seen an increase in the number of such research conducted by faculty and staff.

Since the beginning of the last academic year, the President of Wittenborg, Peter Birdsall, has encouraged faculty and staff to collaborate with each other or even with external researchers to conduct research based on their own teaching specialities. He said that it is only normal for Wittenborg to tap into the knowhow and expertise of its employees to conduct practice-based research to enhance the quality of teaching and learning. And his call has borne fruit, with an increase in the number of research papers published in peer-reviewed journals over the past few months.

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Academic research can increase the body of knowledge and benefit society. Being a university of applied sciences specialising in business, conducting research is a pertinent contribution to the industry. Companies often use research to help them make decisions about marketing, human resource management, production, logistics, and strategic decision making. Research in these domains not only benefits the companies, but also other stakeholders and society in general.

Recent researches undertaken by Wittenborg staff and students are varied and include topics on sustainability, AI and employment, ethics, education, trade and logistics, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on work-life balance. All of these researches, which include theses submitted by master's students, were published in peer-reviewed, international journals. (Read news articles on published master students' theses here and here).

Among the papers that were recently published was research done by Wittenborg lecturer Dr Alexander Bauer, who teaches at Wittenborg’s study centres in Munich (Germany) and Bad Voslau (Austria). His ‘A New Paradigm for CPD in Sales’ was published in the International Journal of Sales Transformation in September. Dr Bauer has more than a decade of international sales and management experience, leading global sales teams stationed in North and South America, Europe and Asia. In the research, Dr Bauer worked with Dr Colin Mackenzie from Edinburgh Napier University to find effective ways of training sales staff, especially those working in small and medium-sized enterprises.

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Another recently published research paper titled ‘University of Applied Sciences Students’ Engagement with Scientific Literature for Final Year Projects: An Exploratory Study’ was conducted by a Wittenborg team comprising of the President of Wittenborg Peter Birdsall, Head of School of Business Dr Rauf Abdul, Senior Lecturer Dr Dadi Chen and Education Support Administrator Hanna Abdelwahab. The research was conducted during the lockdown and looked into the issue of the quality of final year projects done by students from universities of applied sciences in the Netherlands. The research led to the discovery of some key factors that hindered the engagement of these students with scientific literature. Research such as this is practical and provides bountiful information to Wittenborg and other universities of applied sciences, as it can shape future restructuring of the curriculum leading to better quality in teaching and learning.

Having a culture of researchers who work hard to discover new information in a systematic manner is relevant to the advancement of society. Although the impact of the research may not be immediate, it provides useful information and knowledge, which can impact society in the long run. As knowledge increases, society will progress. As quoted by Kofi Annan (7th Secretary-General of the United Nations), “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family."

WUP 21/11/2021
by Hanna Abdelwahab
©WUAS Press