Creating a true community of academic practice through research-based learning

Pete Smith and Chris Rust (Reinvention Centre for Undergraduate Research)

The academic community in higher education is becoming increasingly fragmented, with arguably the greatest fault line between research and teaching. This paper argues that, through the reinvention of the undergraduate curriculum to focus on student engagement in research and research-type activities, supported by a synthesis of the literature on learning development, critical thinking, informal logic, and research methods, a true community of academic practice can be created with consequent benefits to both academics and students. This new notion of 'an academic community' is one which: offers practical solutions; is based on a strong theoretical foundation; and is relevant to all disciplines and vocations. The paper arrives at a set of practical guidelines for the organisation and management of students and staff and for the design and layout of academic accommodation.