Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning
The excerpt below looks at the role of scholarship in the design of
course syllabi. It is from, THE COURSE SYLLABUS: A LEARNING-CENTERED
APPROACH (pp5-6), by JUDITH GRUNERT, Center for Instructional
Development, Syracuse University.
Copyright ? 1997 by Anker Publishing Company, Inc. All rights
reserved. Reprinted with permission
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Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning
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SCHOLARLY REFLECTION ABOUT TEACHING
Shulman and Hutchings (1994) suggest that you think about the ways
your course and syllabus represent acts of scholarship. Adopt a
stance of inquiry toward your practice, seeing your ideas and
practices in constant formation and always in need of further
investigation. Before composing the syllabus, engage in scholarly
reflection about your teaching.
Every course we craft is a lens into our fields and our personal
conceptions of those disciplines. Give careful thought to the shape
and content of your course. How does the course begin? Why does it
begin where it does? (What is the thesis of the argument?) What do
you and your students do as the course unfolds? What do you lecture
about or lead discussions around? What are the key assignments or
student evaluations? (What are the main points of the argument? What
are the key bodies of evidence?) How does it end? Why does it end as
it does? (Most scholarly arguments carry the intention to persuade.)
What do you want to persuade your students to believe? Or question?
Or do you want them to develop new appetites or dispositions?
Are there distinctly different ways to organize your course-ways that
reflect quite different perspectives on your discipline or field? Do
you focus on particular topics while other colleagues might make
other choices? Why?
In what ways does your course teach students how scholars work in
your field-the methods, procedures, and values which shape how
knowledge claims are made and adjudicated? How does it open doors to
the critical dialogues and key arguments scholars are engaged in at
the cutting edge of your field?
How does your course connect with other courses in your own or other
fields? To what extent does your course lay a foundation for others
that follow it? Or build on what students have learned in other
courses? Or challenge and contradict what students are learning in
your own or other disciplines? How does your course fit within a
larger conception of curriculum, program, and teaching?
What do you expect students to find particularly fascinating about
your course? Where will they encounter the greatest difficulties of
either understanding or motivation? How does the content of your
course connect to matters your students already understand or have
experienced? Where will it seem most alien? How do you address these
common student responses in your course? How has the course evolved
over time in response to them?
Try playing with some metaphors for characterizing your course and
its place in the larger curriculum or in the broader intellectual and
moral intellectual lives of your students. Is your course like a
journey, a parable, a football game, a museum, a romance, a concerto,
an Aristotelian tragedy, an obstacle course, one or all or some of
the above? How does your metaphor(s) illuminate key aspects of your
Shulman, L., & Hutchings, P. (1994). Excerpt from Peer Review of
Teaching Workshop sponsored by AAHE.
About the Author
Judith Grenert's current research is concerned with how faculty
across disciplines in higher education approach their research. She
is presently at the Syracuse University Center for Instructional
Development where she works with faculty in various disciplines to
improve learning. Grunert's interests center on the ways that
instructors in higher education can help students to become the
agents of their own education. She draws upon her experience as a
member of the School of Arts faculty, College of Visual and
Performing Arts, Syracuse University, and as a Lilly Endowment
Fellow, when she developed curricular and instructional materials
that would help students assume increasing responsibility over
planning, implementing, and evaluating their learning experiences.
Grunert has coordinated and contributed to the design and development
of national educational projects for higher education, government,
and not-for-profit organizations. She exhibits her sculpture and
drawings at museums and galleries.