In his seminal text, Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate, Ernest Boyer (1990) directed attention to the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). Those faculty
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
scholarship of teaching and learning
“My grandmother fell down on her patio and I had to go stay with her for a few days and she does not have internet or a computer and all of my research was in my dorm room …”
When students are unable to comply with some aspect of an academic task (e.g. due date, assignment length, quality of work), there is potential for them to communicate reasons as to why they were unable to complete the task to their instructor. At this point the students have a choice, in which case they can either provide legitimate reasons for not being able to complete or to submit their coursework, or they can communicate something which is a deliberate attempt to deceive the instructor. A student may communicate information designed to deceive or construct a fraudulent claim to an instructor in order to avoid the undesirable consequences (e.g. a bad grade that may hurt the student’s overall standing in a class) of not complying with the academic task. Roig and Caso (2005) found that the frequency of which providing fraudulent claims occurs in an academic environment is approximately equal to, if not greater than, more commonly identified forms of academic dishonesty such as cheating and plagiarism. Ferrari et al. (1998) indicated that fraudulent claim making was utilized by as many as 70% of American college students. However, this phenomenon has received limited empirical attention in recent time in comparison to other forms of academically dishonest behavior.
While college and university faculty are paid to teach, we are often hired because of our scholarship. We are evaluated in the hiring process by the strength of our publications and conference presentations. Therefore, it makes sense that most of us in academia allow scholarship to drive our teaching. Yet the need to focus on scholarship also results in a common complaint that teaching interferes with our time for research. I believe that if we creatively reconsider the relationship between teaching and scholarship we can improve both. I argue that teaching is an undervalued resource that can directly enhance our scholarship—and not just the scholarship of teaching and learning.
I recently attended the annual conference of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL). The conference allowed me to reflect on questions about the scholarship and practice of teaching and learning, and it fueled thoughts that eventually led to this article on how we might go about modeling scholarly practice.
In 1997 Ernest Boyer identified the concept of the Scholarship of Teaching. This was the first time that TEACHING had been identified as legitimate scholarship. Over time this idea has evolved into the movement called “SoTL” or the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Many of us are scholarly teachers; we read the literature, plan, assess, reflect, and revise. But what makes our teaching scholarship is very different. Lee Shulman (1999) clearly delineated the difference. To be scholarship, teaching must become public, be an object of critical review and evaluation by members of one’s community, and it must be built upon and developed.
The title is borrowed from text in an excellent article that challenges our use of the “what works” phrase in relationship to teaching and learning. Biology professor Kimberly Tanner writes, “… trying to determine ‘what works’ is problematic in many ways and belies the fundamental complexities of the teaching and learning process that have been acknowledged by scholars for thousands of years, from Socrates, to Piaget, to more recent authors and researchers.” (p. 329) She proceeds to identify six reasons why the phrase hinders rather than fosters an evidence-based approach to teaching reform (in biology, her field, but these reasons relate to all disciplines). “Language is powerful,” she notes. (p. 329) We use it to frame issues, and when we do, it guides our thinking.
It’s an issue many colleges and universities are facing today: How do you expand research capacity while still preserving an institution’s traditional emphasis on effective teaching? How is it possible to improve your reputation in one of these areas without abandoning your reputation in the other? How can you expand your mission in an environment of increasingly strained budgets, greater competition among institutions (including public, private, for-profit, and virtual universities), and rigorous accountability? And how do you balance the expectation of so many legislatures and governing boards that you demonstrate student success with their simultaneous expectation that you obtain more and more external funding from sponsored research and the frequent pursuit of grants?
Most universities require tenure-track faculty members to achieve in three particular domains – teaching, service, and scholarship. Scholarship provokes the most anxiety. Faculty members quickly succumb to the publish or perish syndrome; a syndrome depicted by obsessive thoughts about scholarship expectations, a frenzy to publish, restless nights, and a plethora of excuses. The antidotes cleverly identified in this article are designed to treat the publish or perish syndrome.
Magna Publications and The Teaching Professor are seeking nominations for the Maryellen Weimer Scholarly Work on Teaching and Learning Award. Now in its fourth year, the award recognizes outstanding scholarly contributions that advance college-level teaching and learning practices.