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Opening Lines: Approaches to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning

Message Number: 
281

Folks:

As readers of this Mailing List, you are aware of the increasing

attention given to advancing the scholarship of teaching and

learning. A major player in this effort has been the Carnegie

Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The posting below is an

excerpt from a new book, Opening Lines: Approaches to the Scholarship

of Teaching and Learning, edited by Pat Hutchings, senior scholar at

the Foundation. The book is a collection of essays by eight faculty

on their efforts to examine their teaching and their students'

learning in ways that will advance practice. "Each case study

documents a process of reflection and analysis, illustrating a wide

range of methods for undertaking such work in different fields and

diverse institutional contexts."

The excerpts are taken from the Lessons Learned sections of four of the

cases. They will give you an idea of the opportunities and challenges faced

by faculty seeking to make a contribution in this very important domain.

More information about the book, including ordering directions can be found

at:

http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/whatsnew/index.htm

Regards,

Rick Reis

reis@stanford.edu

UP NEXT: Half-Time Tenure Track Could Level Professorial Playing Field

Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning

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OPENING LINES: APPROACHES TO THE SCHOLARSHIP OF TEACHING AND LEARNING

Pat Hutchings, Editor

A Publication of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

?2000 The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Reprinted with permission.

----------------------

CASE STUDY 1. Investigating Student Learning in a Problem-Based

Psychology Course, William Cerbin, Psychology, University of

Wisconsin-La Crosse

Lessons Learned

What I would say to others attempting this kind of work is that:

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 commitments. 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

Lessons Learned

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 its 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, its important to begin with audience analysis,

anticipating what questions will come to the readers 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 5. For Better or Worse? The Marriage of Web and Classroom,

T. Mills Kelly, Texas Tech University

Lessons Learned

I'd urge colleagues interested in the scholarship of teaching to begin

by identifying where the resources are to help do the work. I sort

of missed this step because, frankly, I didn't realize there were

resources and community I could tap into. Or rather, I turned to the

research but I neglected to find the people. The best advice I have

is that you don't need to invent this all by yourself. Find people

doing similar work.

Some of those people - many of them - are not here on any campus, but

even here its getting easier. Texas Tech has a new Teaching Academy

which has a proposal in front of the provost to add to the existing

distinguished professorship for research a parallel distinguished

teaching professorship. This will get peoples attention because it

has the same large salary bump added to your base. That piques

peoples interest.

Second, I advise people to deal with the issue of time. Money is

nice and monetary awards cause people to pay attention, but release

time is even more important, in my experience. Unless you teach a

reduced load (by Texas law I have to teach three organized courses a

semester), the scholarship of teaching is an optional activity. To do

it and to do it well requires time, and time is harder to come by than

cash.

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CASE STUDY 8. Difficulty: The Great Educational Divide, Mariolina

Rizzi Salvatori, English, University of Pittsburgh

Lessons Learned

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.

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Pat Hutchings [hutchings@carnegiefoundation.org], is a senior scholar at the

Foundation. With Lee Shulman, Hutchings directs the Higher Education Program

of the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

(CASTL).