Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning
The posting below is another look at the supposed relationship
between quality teaching and quality research. It is from Chapter 6,
Accepting the Nature of Trade-Offs, in FACULTY WORK AND PUBLIC TRUST:
Restoring the Value of Teaching and Public Service in American
Academic Life, by JAMES S. FAIRWEATHER, The Pennsylvania State
University. Copyright (c) 1996 by Allyn & Bacon, A Simon and Schuster
Company Needham Heights, Massachusetts 02194.
[http://vig.abacon.com/] All rights reserved. Reprinted with
Note: I am grateful to Ed Nuhfer of CU-Denver for pointing out the
following in response to an earlier message:
I would also note that the converse fallacy--that good researchers
are automatically poor teachers--is as frequent in some
teaching-focused institutions as the converse that Diamond notes in
intensive/extensive universities. The research actually shows that
the former fallacy is even worse than the latter.
UP NEXT: What is the Most Difficult Step We Must Take to Become Great Teachers?
Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning
----------------------- 989 words ---------------------
TEACHER-SCHOLAR: THE MYTHOLOGY
JAMES S. FAIRWEATHER
The teacher-scholar long has been accepted as the ideal in American
higher education.(note-1) Teaching and research are seen as mutually
reinforcing. From this perspective, the best scholars are the best
teachers: the best teacher is a scholar who keeps abreast of the content
and methods of a field through continuing involvement in research and
who communicates knowledge and enthusiasm for a subject to students.(2)
Feldman found that the claim that teaching and research are mutually
reinforcing has several tenets.(3) The first set of premises can be
categorized under Linsky and Straus' spillover effect."(4) This effect
is evidenced by the following:
* Research may help faculty keep current with their discipline and may
increase intellectual interest.(5)
* Faculty who conduct research may be more likely to introduce new
materials into their classes.(6)
* Research work requires skills in organizing materials, which may
assist faculty in better organizing materials for presentation in
* Research may socialize faculty to expect more from their students and
to challenge students intellectually.(8)
* Research-oriented faculty may be more likely to instill an enthusiasm
for scholarship among students.(9)
* Highly productive researchers may be the most stimulating
* Research productivity may enhance faculty interest in course subject
Crimmel adds another commonly held premise about the "spillover" between
research and teaching:
* Faculty who are actively engaged in research may serve as better role
models for students than less research-minded faculty.(12)
Research and teaching productivity may also be part of a larger
construct of general intelligence or ability.(13) If both good teaching
and productive research are a function of general ability, the two
should be positively related.
Surveys of faculty indicate widespread acceptance of the belief that
teaching and research are mutually reinforcing.(14) A survey of faculty
in the natural sciences found that 95 percent agreed that keeping
abreast in the discipline through research is fundamental to effective
instruction.(15) Peer ratings of teaching effectiveness and research
productivity indicate a perceived positive relationship between the
two.(16) The National Academy of Sciences ratings of doctoral program
quality showed a strong positive relationship between peer ratings of
overall program quality (including quality of students and of
instruction) and research productivity across disciplines.(17)
The teacher-scholar mythology has two important policy and
administrative consequences. First, it requires that each faculty
member who desires promotion, tenure, and large salary increases follow
the same behavioral pattern encompassing both research and teaching.
The volume of research productivity and amount of teaching will vary by
type of institution, but both are required. Excellent teaching alone is
insufficient; both research and teaching are (purportedly) needed. This
concept is consistent with the general-ability tenet, in which both
teaching and research are indicators of an individual's overall ability.
Second, the presumption of a benefit to teaching from research activity
permits heavy emphasis by faculty and administrators on the importance
of research. Consistent with Linsky and Straus' spillover effect,(18)
since both teaching and research purportedly benefit from the research
function, the reasoning goes, faculty who spend the most time on
research enhance institutional prestige and visibility without cost to
the instructional function. That is, the best researchers make the best
TEACHER-SCHOLAR: THE EVIDENCE
Despite the general acceptance of the teacher-scholar concept, Crimmel
asserts that "this claim is usually presented...not as an empirically
verified hypothesis, but as a self-evident truth."(19) Some critics
believe that research activity actually detracts from instructional
quality primarily by reducing the time faculty spend with students: "The
time expected to become a productive scholar and do research is taken
away from teaching activities, such as classroom participation, close
contact with students, and intellectual supervision of them."(20)
To examine both the dominant teacher-scholar ideology and the
contrasting view of the negative influence of research on teaching,
Feldman completed a meta-analysis of publish work on the relationship
between teaching and research quality.(21) Across several studies, he
found only a minimal relationship between student ratings of teaching
effectiveness and faculty research productivity (an average correlation
of .12). This relationship was small regardless of the measure of
faculty productivity used (i.e., publishing, obtaining research grants).
Measures of the quality of research publications based on citation
indices were found unrelated to teaching effectiveness (r = -.002).
Feldman also examined the distinct components of the
teaching-enhances-research ideology. He found modest support (average
correlation about .20) for the beliefs that research helps faculty keep
abreast of their discipline and increases intellectual interest, and
that research can assist faculty in better organizing their class
presentations and syllabi. Feldman found little, if any, support for
the ideas of research socializing faculty to expect more from their
students, research-oriented faculty being more likely to instill an
enthusiasm for scholarship among students, highly productive researchers
being the most stimulating teachers, faculty who engage in research
bringing new material into classroom instruction more frequently than
less research-oriented faculty, or research productivity enhancing
faculty interest in course subject matter. Feldman concluded by
stating: "An obvious interpretation of these results is that, in
general, the likelihood that research productivity actually benefits
teaching is extremely small or that the two, for all practical purposes,
are essentially unrelated."(22) Centra adds:
"No one would question the need for teachers to keep up with current
knowledge in their fields. But whether they must actually carry on
research in order to do so is questionable. Reading and discussing
current findings in their discipline as a whole may do as much to help
some teachers keep up-to-date as they focused on a narrow research
Feldman found no support for research productivity being negatively
related to teaching effectiveness. Yet Crimmel argued that the emphasis
on research has led to a culture which denigrates teaching and harms
"The myth of the "teacher-scholar" is rationalized by a web of false
beliefs. Chief among these are the empirically mistaken belief that
publication benefits teaching and the conceptually mistaken belief that
publication is one of the essential responsibilities of the teacher in
the liberal arts college.
1) H.H. Crimmel, "The Myth of the Teacher-Scholar," Liberal Education,
70 (1984): 183-98.
2) J.G. Gaff and R.C. Wilson, "The Teaching Environment," AAUP Bulletin,
57 (1971): 477.
3) K.A. Feldman, "Research Productivity and Scholarly Accomplishment of
College Teachers as Related to their Instructional Effectiveness: A
Review and Exploration," Research in Higher Education, 26 (1987):
4) A.S. Linsky and M. Straus, "Student Evaluation, Research
Productivity, and Eminence of College Faculty," Journal of higher
Education, 46 (1975): 89-102.
5) J.A. Centra, "Research Productivity and Teacher Effectiveness,"
Research in Higher Education, 18 (1983): 379-89; Crimmel, The Myth of
the Teacher-Scholar"; R.J. Friedrich and S.J. Michalk, Jr., "Why Doesn't
Research Improve Teaching? Some Answers from Small Liberal Arts
College," Journal of Higher Education, 54 (1983): 145-63
6) R.D. McCullagh and M.R. Roy, "The Contribution of Non-Instructional
Activities to College Classroom Teacher Effectiveness," Journal of
experimental Education, 44 (1975): 61-70.
7) Friedrich and Michalak, "Why Doesn't Research Improve Teaching?"
8) Friedrich and Michalak, "Why Doesn't Research Improve Teaching?"
9) Centra, "Research Productivity and Teacher Effectiveness"; J. Harry
and N.S. Golder, "The Null Relationship Between Teaching and Research,"
Sociology of Education, 45 (1972): 47-60.
10) Centra, "Research Productivity and Teacher Effectiveness"; Linsky
and Straus, "Student Evaluation, Research Productivity, and Eminence."
11) Centra, "Research Productivity and Teacher Effectiveness"; Friedrich
and Michalak, "Why Doesn't Research Improve Teaching?"
12) Crimmel, "The Myth of the Teacher-Scholar," 184-5.
13) Centra, "Research Productivity and Teacher Effectiveness" 380-1;
M.A. Faia, "Teaching and Research: Rapport or Mesalliance," research in
Higher Education, 4 (1976): 235-46.
14) Gaff and Wilson, "The Teaching Environment."
15) L.R. Jauch, "relationships of Research and Teaching: Implications
for faculty Evaluation," Research in Higher Education, 5 (1976): 1-13.
16) Centra, "Research Productivity and Teacher Effectiveness."
17) For example, L.V. Jones, G.Lindzey, and P.E. Coggeshall, eds., An
Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs in the United States:
Biological Sciences (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1982).
18) Linsky and Straus, "Student Evaluation, Research Productivity, and
19) Crimmel, "The Myth of the Teacher-Scholar," 184.
20) Gaff and Wilson, "The Teaching Environment." 477.
21) Feldman, "Research Productivity and Scholarly Accomplishment."
22) Feldman, "Research Productivity and Scholarly Accomplishment." 275.
23) Centra, "Research Productivity and Teacher Effectiveness." 388.