A primer of the Scholarship of Teaching

This series of four topics provides a brief historical background and philosophical context for the Scholarship of Teaching, including where the CSIE Project is situated.

Scholarship Reconsidered

Scholarship Assessed

CISE: Scholarship Developed

The Teaching Academy

Scholarship Reconsidered

Faculty, themselves, appear to be increasingly dissatisfied with conflicting priorities on campus.

Boyer, E. L. Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professorate San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1990; p. 16

Ernest L. Boyer was president of The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching from 1979 until his death in 1995. Since it was first published in 1990, the Boyer Report (Scholarship Reconsidered) has become a focal point for faculty discussions across the nation. In this report, Boyer looked at the full range of activities that constitute the work of the professoriate in a way that looked at the commonalities that unify the disciplines rather than the things that keep them isolated from one another.

What we now have is a more restricted view of scholarship, one that limits it to a hierarchy of functions. Basic research has come to be viewed as the first and most essential form of scholarly activity, with other functions flowing from it. Scholars are academics who conduct research, publish, and then perhaps convey their knowledge to students or apply what they have learned.

E. L. Boyer, Scholarship Reconsidered, p. 15

The report and its recommendations were synthesized from a careful analysis of the 1989 National Survey of Faculty combined with the experience, insight, and reflection of Boyer's long career in higher education. In just 4-5 pages in the 1990 report, Boyer put into words what the collective conscience of faculty already knew but had somehow forgotten.

We believe the time has come to move beyond the tired old "teaching versus research" debate and give the familiar and honorable term "scholarship" a broader, more capacious meaning, one that brings legitimacy to the full scope of academic work.

Specifically, we conclude that the work of the professoriate might be thought of as having four separate, yet overlapping, functions. These are: the scholarship of discovery; the scholarship of integration; the scholarship of application; and the scholarship of teaching.

E. L. Boyer, Scholarship Reconsidered, p. 16

The scholarship of discovery is most recognizable as "research," the search for knowledge for its own sake, and the principled mode of inquiry that characterizes this quest.

The scholarship of integration is in making informed connections across the disciplines, to understand the broad and broadest contexts in which one's work fits.

The scholarship of application seeks to bridge the gap between the worlds inside and outside of the academy and to center this deeply and squarely within the context of disciplinary understanding.

The scholarship of teaching seeks to bridge the distance between intrapersonal and interpersonal understanding, to do so in a way that is fully informed by the scholarships of discovery, integration, and application as crafted by a study of the discipline.

A number of institutions have used these guidelines to reconceptualize and even to rewrite their promotion and tenure guidelines. Faculty positions with an area of specification in discipline-centered pedagogy, instruction and educational research have been understood in terms of the Boyer categories for scholarship.

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Scholarship Assessed

Having been successful with the scholarship framework outlined in Scholarship Reconsidered, Boyer and his colleagues at The Carnegie Foundation turned to the next logical question: having examined and defined the dimensions of "scholarship," by what processes to we judge the work of faculty as scholars? This is the question that drove the publication of its reply, in 1997, titled Scholarship Assessed.

The one-page summary of standards used to assess scholarship concisely represents the spirit of this text:

Clear Goals

Does the author state the basic purposes of his or her work clearly? Does the scholar define objectives that are realistic and achievable? Does the scholar identify important questions in the field?

Adequate Preparation
Does the scholar show an understanding of exisitng scholarship in the field? Does the scholar bring the necessary skills to his or her work? Does the scholar bring together the resources necessary to move the project forward?

Appropriate Methods
Does the scholar use methods appropriate to the goals? Does the scholar apply effectively the methods selected? Does the scholar modify procedures in response to changing circumstances?

Significant Results
Does the scholar achieve the goals? Does the scholar's work add consequentially to the field? Does the scholar's work open additional areas for further exploration?

Effective Presentation
Does the scholar use a suitable style and effective organization to present his or her work? Does the scholar use appropriate forums for communicating work to its intended audiences? Does the scholar present his or her message with clarity and integrity?

Reflective Critique
Does the scholar critically evaluate his or her own work? Does the scholar bring an appropriate breadth of evidence to his or her critique? Does the scholar use evaluation to improve the quality of future work?

Glassick, C. E.; Huber, M. T.; Maeroff, G. I. Scholarship Assessed: Evaluation of the Professoriate
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1997; p. 36.

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Scholarship Developed

Of the four areas in Boyer's original formulation, the scholarship of teaching is the least understood and the most interesting to many who are thinking about the professoraite, including
The Carnegie Foundation. In 1998, the first cohort of Pew Scholars was supported by the Foundation as part of an emerging national project known as The Teaching Academy. Under the leadership of its new president, Lee Shulman, the Carnegie Foundation is now focusing on the scholarship of teaching, perhaps the least understood and most interesting area of scholarship outlined in Scholarship Reconsidered and Scholarship Assessed.

Understanding what is meant by scholarship of teaching has become the starting point for many local and national conversations. I am a member of the 1998 group of Pew Scholars as well as a faculty member who aspires to contribute to an understanding of teaching scholarship. From my perspective, I have argued that answering a third question is a necessary next step. After reconsidering scholarship and the dimensions of its assessment, the second of the listed assessment criteria (adequate preparation) becomes crucial because it must be addressed before the scholarship of teaching can be understood:

From where can the scholarship of teaching arise?

Scholarship is not a synonym for research. The scholarship of research arises from a deliberate infrastructure that identifies promise in undergraduates and moves its candidates through a formal professional development program. This infrastructure does not define research, it was developed to improve training to do research.

One way to conceptualize the scholarship of teaching is in its professional development. If we accept the tenets of scholarship and scholarly work, and we accept the fact that we have tools with which we examine scholarly work, then we are faced with the question at the top of this page: from where can the scholarship of teaching arise? We can use an infrastructure of professional development to create a scholarship of teaching in the same way we create a scholarship of research.

The targets for creating a professional development program for teaching are activities and instruction that bring participants to a greater understanding and ability in curriculum design, development, implementation, and assessment, resulting in behaviors one identifies with scholarship (informed practice, reflective thinking, public accountability, etc.). As is true for the scholarship of research, these are activities that need to begin at the undergraduate level, proceed to the graduate and postdoctoral levels, and finally on to the new faculty.

Brian P. Coppola, Chemical Sciences at the Interface of Education (1 Aug 1998; www.umich.edu/~csie)

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The Carnegie Teaching Academy: Campus Programs

Between 1998-2002, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is encouraging a broad national conversation to be centered on university and college campuses everywhere centered on defining the scholarship of teaching. At the 1998 Pew Scholars summer retreat, Barbara Cambridge, who directs the Campus Program Project, offered the following guidelines for campuses. Eventually, there will be faculty that make substantial commitment to and progress in transforming themselves and their institutions into places where a broader notion of scholarship has been embraced. Sometime in 2002-2003, a selected group of institutions will earn status as Teaching Academy Affiliates of The Carnegie Foundation.

Defining the Scholarship of Teaching (a draft outline, June 1998, Menlo Park)

To begin your conversation about the scholarship of teaching, you might use the following statement and set of questions. The object of answering these and your own questions is to test the statement of definition: Do you agree sufficiently with the definition to use it as the point of departure for looking at your campus practices, policies, and conditions that work for or against the scholarship of teaching? If so, you may want to proceeed to your identification and examination of these practices, policies, and conditions. If you modify the definition in your discussion, be sure to capture your reasons to report out with your revised definition. This process is Part One of your Campus Conversation.

Draft Definition: The scholarship of teaching is problem posing about an issue of teaching or learning, study of the problem through methods appropriate to disciplinary epistemologies, application of results to practice, communication of results, self-reflection, and peer review.


  1. What is the difference between excellence in teaching and the scholarship of teaching?
  2. Are scholarly practices related to teaching generic, disciplinary-based, or both?
  3. Which faculty members do or might do scholarly work about teaching?
  4. How does or could scholarly work about teaching affect student learning?
  5. What practices, policies, and structures can support the scholarship of teaching?
  6. What practices, policies, and structures can inhibit the scholarship of teaching?


What you have achieved a consensus definition of the scholarship of teaching which you agree to use for the present, look at the current practices, policies, and structures that support and that inhibit the scholarship of teaching on your particular campus. You might want to rank order the supports and inhibitors to self-access the state of the scholarship of teaching on your campus. This will help you identify a focus area for study and action during Part Two of your Campus Conversation.

Part Two

Issues identified as supports and inhibitions in the Stocktaking will be the basis for a campus' willingness to demonstrate action. On a particular set of issues of their choosing, campuses will demonstrate their ability to reinforce, document, and communicate things that support the scholarship of teaching; on another set, campuses will demonstrate their commitment to action by moving towards a solution to an inhibition. Starting at the March, 1999 meeting of the American Association of Higher Education (AAHE), and for four years, campuses will report out their progress on Part Two issues.

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