Engagement, Publishing, and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Reconsidering the Reconsidered

Engagement, Publishing, and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Reconsidering the Reconsidered

David Starr-Glass (University of New York in Prague, Czech Republic & SUNY Empire State College – Prague, Czech Republic)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7730-0.ch011


Following a critical appraisal of research and teaching in U.S. higher education, Ernest Boyer advocated that teaching should be recognized and rewarded as an activity that was at least as important as traditional disciplinary scholarship. He insisted that teaching had its own scholarly component which deserved fuller recognition, appreciation, and dissemination. This chapter explores Boyer's reconsideration of the activities and priorities of higher education and the emerging history of what would become known as the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). From an early stage in its historical trajectory, SoTL explorations were linked to a publication imperative. Publication was seen as essential for consolidating the discipline's status and for improving the efficacy of teaching. The chapter reconsiders the publication requirement, its impact on the vision and mission of SoTL, and the degree to which it has repositioned and reprioritized teaching in the academy. It also provides suggestions for furthering SoTL's impact and for new directions for research, practice, and publication.
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Those who wish to teach within higher education soon find that the academy is a complex place in which they are expected, encouraged, and required to assume multiple roles. The roles assumed are predetermined by a set of interlocking structures: the proclaimed mission of the institution, the social hierarchies it has created, the demands and expectations of departmental politics, allegiance to disciplinary tribes, and the existing framework of institutional reward. For the new faculty member, entry and subsequent socialization into the academy can be a confusing and disconcerting experience—an experience that requires learning, discovery, and an awareness of the “litany of voices calling on universities that prepare future faculty to more meaningfully evaluate, reward, and value teaching, mentorship, and a wide range of scholarship” (Anderson & Anderson, 2012, p. 249).

For some newly immersed faculty members, the primary role and responsibility will be seen as teaching—sharing knowledge, initiating new knowledge creation, and encouraging learners to reach levels of understanding that they could not otherwise have obtained. For others, scholarly research will be considered paramount—advancing the boundaries of knowledge, sharing newly-minted knowledge, and promulgating different understandings within the community of scholars. Faculty members may have role preferences, but they do not necessarily have choices; whether a teaching role or a research one materializes depends on the nature of the institution, its value and reward systems, and increasingly on the nature of the appointment, the health of enrollment statistics, and any external funding that might be available. Although both teaching and research can—and indeed should—be part of the function of higher education and of its faculty’s agenda, the historic reality is that most academic communities prioritize research. Within such a “narrow paradigm” of scholarly activity, teaching has often been seriously neglected or relegated to a low priority. Although there is a potentially symbiotic relationship between teaching and research, this does not mean that an optimal balance between them has been decided by the institution or achieved by its incumbent faculty.

This chapter considers the historical trajectory and evolutionary accommodation of what we know recognize as the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). It suggests that this history can be traced to the publication of Ernest Boyer’s (1990)Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate and to the equally important, but considerably less known, Scholarship of Engagement (1996). In these works, Boyer (1990) radically moved the argument away from a putative trade-off between the faculty’s research and teaching efforts. Instead of presenting a zero-sum scenario—in which teaching activities necessarily detracted from research excellence—he advanced a win-win proposition that acknowledged the importance of both, their borderless fluidity, and their potential for synergistic enhancement. Boyer presented teaching as the legitimate priority of the faculty and, in doing so, opened up a new academic territory for discovery and scholarly activity. Within the academy, new territory is a scarce resource and it is quickly colonized and cultivated. This chapter considers how the disciplinary territory of a scholarship associated with teaching and learning was colonized, the competing disciplinary claims that were made for the new territory, and how these still-disputed claims have shaped the way in which many faculty members accept—or indeed reject—what such a scholarly approach to teaching and learning might mean.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Teaching: There are two fundamentally different ways of understanding teaching. The first sees teaching as an instructor-centered activity in which knowledge is transmitted from someone who has acquired that knowledge to novice learners: teaching as knowledge transmission. The second sees teaching as a learner-centered activity in which the instructor ensures that learning is made possible for novice learners and supports, guides, and encourages them in their active and independent creation of new knowledge: teaching as assisted knowledge creation .

Teaching Engagement: Teaching engagement begins with the teacher’s recognition that the learner is an authentic party in the learning process. This leads to a flow of positive interest and active involvement in the learner’s creation of knowledge and intellectual progress. Although teaching engagement originates with the instructor, it cannot be fully developed unless there is a reciprocal relationship, in which both instructor and learner recognize the benefits of cooperation, advantages of sharing, and the potential for synergism in the learning endeavor.

Knowledge Creation: The construction of new insight by the learner from existing elements. Knowledge creation is active and centered on the learner, although it often occurs through a process of social exchange and cognitive cooperation rather than uniquely in the mind of the individual learner.

Scholarship: The possession of a rich understanding and deep appreciation of the subject matter and culture of an academic discipline, coupled with the ability to articulate disciplinary knowledge in ways that are recognized as considered and innovative by other scholarly peers.

Disciplinary Culture: A common set of assumptions, attitudes, conceptualizations, epistemologies, and values held by members of an academic disciplinary community (such as chemistry or sociology), which is tacitly transmitted to new members and which shapes their views of the nature, production, transmission, and sharing of disciplinary knowledge.

Disciplinary Boundary: The extent to which the tacit assumptions, attitudes, conceptualizations, epistemologies, and values of an academic discipline (such as chemistry) provide that discipline and its associated community of scholars with both identity and internal cohesion, but which also serve to distinguish and separate it from disciplines (such as sociology).

Boundary Work: Using a spatial metaphor, boundary work is research or teaching that take place at the outer limits of the territory that defines an academic discipline. Boundary work recognizes the cultural, epistemological, and methodological territory of the discipline and the different territories occupied by other disciplines. Boundary work often suggests or involves interdisciplinary research and different teaching cultures, and frequently requires venturing into the non-man’s land that lies between disciplines and which is claimed by none.

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