Opening Lines: Approaches to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning is a collection of essays by eight faculty who have been engaged in the scholarship of teaching. The excerpts below are taken from the Lessons Learned sections of three of these essays to give you an idea of the opportunities and challenges faced by faculty seeking to contribute to the scholarship of teaching.
Case Study 1. Investigating Student Learning in a Problem-Based Psychology Course. William Cerbin, Psychology, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Find something that you really care about, something you're really interested in learning about, something that fascinates you. Like all forms of scholarship, the scholarship of teaching has to be motivated, finally, by personal commitment. There have to be aspects of teaching and learning that pique your curiosity, and those are the things that you should go after in your investigations. The wrong reason to do the scholarship of teaching is because its now listed in the criteria for promotion and tenure; that's a formula for turning important work into just a job, one more hurdle or task. I think there's an important message here about passion, and pursuing ideas that really matter to you.
Case Study 4. A Chemical Mixture of Methods. Dennis Jacobs, Chemistry, University of Notre Dame. One thing that was very helpful right at the beginning was to think in a much bigger framework than I was accustomed to. Interacting in an interdisciplinary spirit with many other scholars allowed me to see what was possible and to hear and learn about lines of questions that I had never thought about before. Similarly, I wouldn't advise that one lock into a particular project design prematurely. In the spring before the first meeting with other Carnegie Scholars, I had my project focus and mission pretty clearly in mind. Then in June, when I started talking with others and seeing what they were doing, I rethought a lot of what I originally had in mind. I began to discover in more detail what the scholarship of teaching entailed, and I found myself asking, with others, What does it mean to gather evidence of deeper understanding? Assessment was something I had never dealt with prior to this project in any meaningful way. My point here is that itŐs good to stay open to new possibilities, to think about options and alternatives, and to be willing to reframe the effort as your thinking evolves. I would also say in hindsight that periodic conversations with others can be invaluable. Seize any chance to maximize those opportunities. One thing I haven't done much of and I feel badly about it is to carry on conversations with my fellow Carnegie Scholars between meetings, in part because I realized how busy everyone is. I don't want to burden them by asking them to spend time reading my work. On the other hand, I know they are generous people and interested in my project. So my advice is to set up those relationships early on and establish some shared understanding about the level of interaction sought by each.
Finally, a thought about audiences for the work. In framing questions and projects, itŐs important to begin with audience analysis, anticipating what questions will come to the readersŐ minds, what things they might be skeptical about. And this is complicated because of the several audiences one might try to reach. There's an audience of consumers of the scholarship of teaching and learning, who want to know what pedagogical methods work and how to make their own teaching more effective. We most often think of addressing faculty in our own discipline. But another audience consists of faculty already doing this kind of scholarship, who will look at a study not to learn innovative ways to teach general chemistry but for models of how to do this kind of scholarship. I think it's important to consider the ways we present our work in order to reach each of these different audiences. The scholarship of teaching and learning will emerge as a legitimate and valued academic activity only if we make the methods, results and conclusions of our projects widely accessible and open to peer review.
Case Study 8. Difficulty: The Great Educational Divide. Mariolina Rizzi Salvatori, English, University of Pittsburgh. There are ways of doing ones scholarship and using the classroom as the testing ground for that scholarship. Institutions should encourage young faculty to acknowledge and remedy the fact that what the culture at large sees as "scholarship" does not necessarily include what we mean by the scholarship of teaching and learning. Institutions should make it possible for the young faculty to learn to do in the classroom what they have learned and have been expected to do in the "scholarly" publications that earn them tenure. And young faculty need to learn to articulate in their own terms to other faculty and administrators what they are doing in their classroom. They need to disabuse skeptical or misinformed administrators of assuming that teaching is an off-the-cuff, improvisational activity that can provide a refuge from "real scholarship." This view of teaching devalues teachers, students, scholarship, and institutions.
Let me end with two specific and direct suggestions gleaned from my own reflections on my teaching: First, don't try to imitate the "model teachers" you admire. Study what they do, but translate what they do into strategies that work for you, strategies that are extensions and representations of your theoretical framework. Look closely at what you know, at the knowledge that is the subject matter of your scholarly work and write an assignment, or a sequence of assignments, that distill, in the instructions they give, the steps necessary to think in the rich and complicated ways that make you the kind of scholar you are. If you want your students to think of the ways historians, hermeneuticists, biologists, or attorneys do, create assignments or classroom discussions that make it possible for them to make those moves, to understand them, and to reflect on their effects.
Secondly, think as a teacher of teachers. Add this "meta" level to your reflections on teaching. It puts pressure on some confusing moves we rely on, on blurry assumptions. And it makes visible, sharable, and teachable what has become invisible to us because it is habitual.
Downloaded from the Tomorrow's Professor Listserv, January 4, 2001. Taken from Opening Lines: Approaches to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, edited by Pat Hutchings, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Reprinted with permission. TLC 01/01