A Study Showing Research Has Been Valued over Teaching in Higher Education

Chi Yuan Chen


Research has been valued and given priority over teaching for a long time in academia.  In recent decades, the Taiwanese Ministry of Education has pursued objective and quantitative research criteria and has encouraged higher education institutions to ask teachers to publish papers in SSCI or SCI journals as part of the criteria for promotion and evaluation.  This policy strengthens the concept that research has priority over teaching because teachers must devote more time to research than to teaching in order to be promoted and evaluated.

The purpose of this study is to explore the influences that cause teachers to value research over teaching.  To achieve this purpose, document analysis, the analysis of Taiwan Higher Education database and interviews were adapted as methods. First of all, our researchers collected and analyzed the documents for promotion and evaluation of twelve different universities whose areas of specialty included general studies, education, medicine, vocational studies, and the arts. Then, the study used and analyzed the empirical data of teachers’ working hours every week for different tasks from the Taiwan Higher Education Database which investigated the working conditions of teachers in higher education in 2004. Additionally, twenty professors who have different areas of study and work in different types of universities were interviewed to collect teachers’ opinions of the task priority of research, teaching, and service duties. 

The results showed that academia in Taiwan exhibits the phenomenon that research is valued over teaching. The reasons are due to the requirements of the reward system. The reward system emphasizes research over teaching and service. Teachers’ research achievements are judged based on publishing articles in different types of journals and the amount of research funding they can obtain. The results also showed that every week teachers spend the most time on teaching, then on research, and finally on service. However, teachers emphasize research as the most important task, then teaching, and finally service. Although the majority of teachers think research is the most important duty, there is still twenty percent of teachers who think it is the least important. Although teaching has been thought of as the second most important duty after research, it is the task that the most teachers give as the first priority as far as time spent and none of the interviewees thought it is the least important. Universities and teachers all try to use their professionalism as capital to gain financial support from the government. This situation forces teachers to try to put more time and energy into research, but they still need to maintain teaching and service work quality. Some teachers focus more time and energy on research and ignore the needs of students. Working time endlessly increases even for teachers who out value on both teaching and research. Some suggestions based on the findings have been proposed for Taiwanese higher institutions.


research; teaching; promotion; tenure; higher education

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14434/josotl.v15i3.13319