- The scholarship of teaching and learning in higher education: Contributions of research universities
For several decades, the quality of teaching and learning in higher education has attracted increasing attention from researchers and policymakers throughout the United States. Some early forms of inquiry focused on the relationship between research and teaching, often viewing both as discrete activities. A number of scholars examined how faculty distribute their time and commitments toward one activity or the other, while another group explored how faculty research enhances classroom instruction. Some publications, in discussing institutional diversity in the nation's higher education landscape, argued that one could expect to find the best examples of teaching at small liberal arts colleges, while the opposite could be expected at research universities. In some corners, a perception grew that, because of the relative importance given to scholarly research at these institutions, faculty at the universities were less likely to care about their teaching, in some cases even leaving their classroom duties in the hands of their graduate assistants.
More recently, a growing body of scholarship that examines how research on classroom instruction can enhance student learning has emerged. A new edited volume, The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: Contributions of Research Universities, offers an important contribution to this discussion by drawing specifically on the lessons learned and applied by faculty at several of the nation's premier research universities. Many of the chapters are drawn from faculty experiences in Indiana University's Scholarship of Teaching and Learning program—an initiative that seeks to encourage, support, and publicize course-focused research projects that address questions about student learning. According to editors William Becker and Moya Andrews, the volume [End Page 378] "is in part intended as a response that both personal and institutional rewards for tenure-track and tenured faculty at research universities favor research at the expense of teaching" (p. 1). In framing this response, the chapters selected for the volume offer a rich multidisciplinary menu of scholarly research, providing statistical models and other types of analyses to inform our understanding of teaching and learning in higher education.
In the first chapter of the book, Lee Shulman, the president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, offers a vision for a research-oriented university that supports the mutually supportive integration of teaching and research. He proposes four possible models through which institutions can support, preserve, and enhance the scholarly work of teaching and research: the interdisciplinary center (an organization similar to area study centers); the graduate education academy (providing doctoral students with a better understanding of college teaching); the center for technology (supporting the integration of information technology and classroom instruction); and the distributed academy (loosely-connected departmental units which acknowledge the oft-cited mantra that development of teaching can best be achieved through the academic disciplines). Each of these models offers unique strengths for certain kinds of institutional cultures, and Shulman offers them (along with a few other useful ideas) in support of his view that research universities can and should place the investigation of teaching and learning at the center of their scholarly activities.
The next six chapters of the volume provide discipline-based examples of how quality scholarship of teaching and learning can take place in a research university setting. Historian Claude Cookman finds unique ways to use the photographic resources from the research libraries at the University of Indiana, Bloomington to develop the historical research skills of his students. Archaeologist Jeanne Sept describes her uses of modern information technology to engage students in the exploration of artifacts from Africa's stone age. Moya Andrews explores the individualized clinical instruction in speech and hearing science graduate programs, while William Becker and William Greene analyze the use of modern technology for helping undergraduates apply statistical methods to social science data. Biologist Craig Nelson describes a personal transformation that led him to explore the scholarly literature on teaching and...