E. Willumsen

University of Stavanger (NORWAY)
In recent years the relationship between higher education (HE) and local actors has been in focus, leading to the development of collaborative activities intended to increase research based education and practice. HE authorities have an obligation to open education and research to the general public and ensure that they are useful for society. The World Declaration on HE for the Twenty-first Century: Vision and Action (1998) emphasises that HE institutions should contribute to change that promotes solidarity, equality and justice. HE should strengthen its “role of service to society” through research and dissemination of results relevant to the needs of society, which promote human and social development in the light of globalisation (The GUNI Report 2008).

In line with the HE international guidelines, practice based research has become a priority area at the University of Stavanger, Norway, addressing questions important to teaching and research as well as to professionals’ practice contexts where they are working with service users. Research shows that professionals in health- and social care seldom apply research in their daily practice, although the Norwegian government expects that professionals in the welfare system provide high quality research based services. Hence, one important goal for the university is to involve students in research activities, so that they can gain experiences from research during their studies and develop a so called “research mindedness”, to promote students’ and professionals’ interest in research-based evidence and best practice as well as to develop new understanding of expertise that reconstructs the practice and research relationship (Karvinen-Niinikoski, 2005).

Two projects will be presented to illustrate experiences gained from closely linking research, education and practice while developing the students’ research mindedness, which make them more aware of how to utilise research in education and practice. Firstly, an EU-project, Public Engagement with Research And Research Engagement with Society (PERARES), will be presented including illustrations on how collaboration between health- and social work students and ENGO’s have influenced and promoted increased responsiveness to external research needs. Secondly, a Praksis-VEL project (an action research project) during social work students’ second year placement is presented illustrating how students are working with real social problems combined with relevant research activities. The students’ research role develops with the practitioner/supervisors’ when they mutually engage in research activities based in questions emerging from their daily practice.

Finally, the projects will be related to innovation theory and how educational structures have been changed internally and externally.