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Briefing note 13

Language Teaching Materials in RAE Submissions

1. This briefing note sets out information on the commentary that might be provided against language teaching materials that are listed as research outputs in Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) submissions. It applies particularly to Units of Assessment (UoAs) which include the European languages (UoAs 48 and 51 to 55). It should be read in conjunction with the RAE 2/99 Guidance on Submissions, RAE 5/99 - Assessment panels' criteria and working methods and RAE Briefing Note 4, Research Outputs.

2. The RAE adopts a broad and inclusive definition of research, which is:

‘Research’ for the purpose of the RAE is to be understood as original investigation undertaken to gain knowledge and understanding. It includes work of direct relevance to the needs of commerce and industry, as well as to the public and voluntary sectors; scholarship*; the invention and generation of ideas, images, performances and artefacts including design, where these lead to new or substantially improved insights; and the use of existing knowledge in experimental development to produce new or substantially improved materials, devices, products and processes, including design and construction. It excludes routine testing and analysis of materials, components and processes, e.g. for the maintenance of national standards, as distinct from the development of new analytical techniques. It also excludes the development of teaching materials that do not embody original research.

*Scholarship is defined for the RAE as the creation, development and maintenance of the intellectual infrastructure of subjects and disciplines, in forms such as dictionaries, scholarly editions, catalogues and contributions to major research databases.

3. All forms of research output, including those defined above as scholarship, are treated on an equal basis. Assessment panels are concerned only with the quality of the research involved.

4. Language teaching materials are admissible if they can be shown to embody research outputs within the RAE definition. If they cannot meet this criterion they are ineligible for inclusion. In order to clarify the position with regard to certain teaching materials, panels often ask for a succinct statement on the research content. Any such statements should be included in the ‘Other Relevant Details’ field of form RA2. It should also be remembered that all research outputs submitted (except commercially confidential material) must be published or otherwise in the public domain. Teaching materials used only within an institution are not admissible.

5. In providing statements, the task is one of explaining how the output embodies research within the RAE definition. (This principle applies equally to other forms of output where the research content may not be readily apparent from the listing of the output itself, including creative writing, translations and grammars.)

6. The examples below offer an indication of how explanations might be provided in relation to different kinds of teaching materials. It must be stressed that they are only examples and should in no way be seen as prescriptive or an attempt to limit the range of possible areas.

7. Example 1:

Language teaching materials have been developed as a means of implementing new ideas about how languages should be taught. In such a case it is likely that the materials would have been evaluated in order to see how successful they were. An explanation of the research dimension would therefore describe the theoretical insight, show how this links to the materials, and where relevant furnish the evaluative dimension.

8. Example 2:

The creation of an original corpus from which the teaching materials have been drawn, e.g. an original set of data to do with language use for specific purposes. An explanation of the research dimension would elucidate the methodology for collecting the original data, for storing it, and for selecting amongst the data collected that which is most suitable for teaching purposes.

9. Example 3:

The use of innovative delivery methods, e.g. through technology. An example might be the design of materials for international pairs working via a web cam. An explanation of the research dimension would explain why this is thought likely to be more successful, the rationale behind the selection of materials, and the evaluation of the outcomes.

10. For further information please contact:

The RAE team,
Northavon House,
Bristol BS16 1QD

Email: rae@hefce.ac.uk

Last updated 30 November 2000

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