Conseil supérieur de l'éducation
INTEGRATING Research or Creative Activity with Teaching at All Levels of University Education

In a brief to the Minister of Education made public on April 21 at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, the Conseil supérieur de l'éducation proposes that research and creative activities be increasingly incorporated into university teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Conseil President Céline Saint-Pierre stated that the general objectives for each level and program of studies must reinforce the key role played by research and creative activity as essential components of education. Consequently, she encourages the university community to do its utmost to strike a balance between teaching and research, both in the education of students and in the university's mission. Ms. Saint-Pierre also encourages the Minister of Education to support the university community in attaining this objective.


Re-examining commonly held assumptions

While research is already integrated into graduate studies, this is not at all the case at the undergraduate level. The Conseil supérieur de l'éducation has had to question certain commonly held assumptions on this subject that are found in various studies and reports.

The perception that there has been a major shift away from teaching towards research, for example, is fuelled by instances of eminent professors being exempted from teaching to concentrate exclusively on research. The Conseil believes that this widespread impression needs to be qualified since the vast majority of professors do teach at the undergraduate level.

While welcoming the recent commitment of French-language universities to research, the Conseil attributes the perception that "the value of research is overestimated" to external forces which, to a great extent, define the objectives, rules, and conditions governing research. The Conseil points out certain adverse effects related to this situation, for example, overemphasis on the production of knowledge to the detriment of teaching, overemphasis on research activities in criteria for selecting and promoting professors, and the assigning of graduate students to inappropriately simple tasks that are unrelated to their educational objectives.


Integration beginning at the undergraduate level

The Conseil supérieur de l'éducation feels that the integration of teaching with research should begin at the undergraduate level. Research training, based on the culture specific to each discipline, must enable students to develop the skills needed to conduct research (for example, methodological approaches, ethics, rigour, critical thinking) and prepare them for new labour market requirements.

The Conseil recommends better harmonization of the college and university levels and of undergraduate and graduate studies at university in order to establish a more effective progression of learning linked to research. The Conseil would like to see the implementation of research or creative activity environments that promote student learning at the undergraduate and graduate levels.


Contributing to the discussion

The President of the Conseil supérieur de l'éducation hopes that this brief will provide food for thought in the upcoming consultations on government policy regarding Québec universities.

Panorama • Volume 3, Number 2 • May 1998

Document complet - in French (PDF)


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