Bridging the gap. Research as a practice to link higher education research and educational development

Research into higher education has gained momentum over the last two decades. Higher education research results, however, are often not sufficiently integrated in educational development processes. Also, vice versa, educational development’s knowledge and experience tends to be not extensively considered in the design of new research projects. The following paper argues that the phenomenon of a mutual alienness between higher education research and educational development can be explained by three system-specific challenges: Firstly, higher education constitutes itself at multiple levels and across multiple academic disciplines and hence is researched by different academic disciplines; secondly, higher education research fluctuates between being either descriptive or activating and consequently suffers from either lack of practical relevance or methodological rigor; thirdly, higher education research and educational development belong to different organisational sub-systems, i. e. the knowledge-producing and the organisation developing system. As one possible way to overcome these challenges, research as a common practice between the systems is advocated.

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