Ways of knowing

Cross-cultural collaborative educational research content

Cross-cultural collaborative educational research

A team from UHI Outer Hebrides and the UHI Learning and Teaching Academy use educational research techniques and interventions to enhance higher education in Bhutan

Unit of assessment | Education

The dzong (fort) at Paro is an impressive administrative centre for the region and located beside the university campus.
With thanks to Frank Rennie. The dzong (fort) at Paro is an impressive administrative centre for the region and located beside the university campus.

The Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) was formed in 2003 as the only university in one of the least-developed countries in the world. The RUB has a federated collegial model, geographically distributed in a similar manner to UHI. Key differences are in the paucity of digital networks, very limited resource funding, and a smaller student body with which to develop the academic skills base. The team from UHI have developed a long-term relationship with RUB to use educational research to strengthen the capacity of the Bhutanese staff and students to enhance their own practices and those of their colleges.

Since 2005, UHI has led research and development to adapt best educational practices in an appropriate cultural context, working with a wide diversity of staff at RUB to establish effective policies and practices for the new university. From the start, an action research methodology was adopted, to explore the educational context, identify areas for enhancement, and evaluate a number of interventions to enable RUB staff to engage with research practice for the first time. In 2020, despite the pandemic, the UHI team were able to successfully move the research and development activities to an online format that allowed the Bhutanese activities to proceed despite travel permissions being constrained.

There are seven clear impacts of this research :

  • embedding of appropriate academic development regulations
  • the construction of a robust Quality Assurance system
  • procedures to effectively validate the educational awards
  • the design of attractive courses
  • career mentoring of academic staff
  • supporting early career and established staff to engage in pedagogic research 
  • constructing frameworks for professional accreditation in line with international standards

A key output of our collaborative research to date is the book Bhutan: Ways of learning and teaching, published by UHI and the Royal University of Bhutan.

“In addition to the production of at least two books and a number of academic papers, we have used the work to inform both our quality assurance work and to investigate new and improved ways of providing course design, academic quality, and the exposure for our staff of new ways of working. The current phase of our joint-project on pedagogical research is seeking both to develop a structure mentor-mentee relationship for the professional development of our staff, and also to explore appropriate ways in which our university might be able to respond to the COVID pandemic.”
– Yangka, Director of Academic Affairs, Royal University of Bhutan

Research team

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