The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

The impetus for a scholarship of teaching and learning was the publication in 1990 of the book Scholarship Reconsidered by Ernst Boyer, then President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. This book challenged the notion that the only scholarship of value in higher education is the "scholarship of discovery" which encompasses what academics usually refer to as research but also includes the creative activities of faculty in the arts and humanities. In addition to discovery, Boyer identified three other categories of scholarship: the scholarship of integration, the scholarship of application and the scholarship of teaching.

Whereas the focus of the scholarship of discovery is on the creation of new knowledge, the scholarship of integration emphasizes connections and meanings, the scholarship of application is concerned with the use of knowledge in the service of solving important problems and the scholarship of teaching has as its goal enabling students to understand.

Thus, the scholarship of teaching is more than the transmission of knowledge. As MaryTaylor Huber writes in her article "Why Now? Course Portfolios in Context" in The Course Portfolio (Pat Hutchings, Editor) "To see teaching as scholarship is to recognize that the work of the professor becomes consequential only as it is understood by others -- in this case, students. But not only students, because the scholarship of teaching, like other kinds of scholarship, should cumulate, add up, and contribute to the practice of one's colleagues."

This is similar to the formulation given by Lee Shulman, current President of Carnegie, who has perhaps best articulated the characteristics and criteria of scholarly work, whether it is the scholarship of discovery, integration, application or teaching:

"For an activity to be designated as scholarship, it should manifest at least three key characteristics: It should be public, susceptible to critical review and evaluation, and accessible for exchange and use by other members of one's scholarly community. We thus observe, with respect to all forms of scholarship, that they are acts of mind or spirit that have been made public in some manner, have been subjected to peer review by members of one's intellectual or professional community, and can be cited, refuted, built upon, and shared among members of that community. Scholarship properly communicated and critiqued serves as the building block for knowledge growth in a field."


Course Portfolios

In 1994, the American Association for Higher Education initiated a national project, From Idea to Prototype, the Peer Review of Teaching, to develop ways of demonstrating that teaching can be a scholarly activity. As suggested by the quotes above, in order for teaching to be regarded as scholarship there must be documentation so that one's teaching can be analyzed, reviewed, critiqued and improved on by one's peers. The course portfolio, first conceived by William Cerbin a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, was perhaps the most valuable idea that emerged. Course portfolios are close cousins of the more familar teaching portfolio, which is a comprehensive exposition of one's teaching over an extended period of time, perhaps even an entire career. A teaching portfolio might include course syllabi, assignments, examinations, and some examples of student work. By contrast, a course portfolio is an in-depth account of a single course and will often include the vision that annimated the course, the planning, the unfolding, the effect on students and their learning and finally an analysis.

Lee Shulman has proposed four different formats as useful frameworks for the analysis of a course, for example, through a portfolio. These are: (1) By examining the "anatomical structure of the course", that is, what the course is composed of and how these things fit together and contribute to student learning. (2) A developmental or historical approach that focuses on how the course unfolds. (3) An ecological approach in which the course is examined in its relationship to other courses and its place in a curriculum. (4) The course as an investigation in which new approaches or practices are tested and analyzed.

An analysis of a course may take one of these as pure forms or make be a mixture of two or even all of these. In fact, I think there are elements of each, some stronger than others, for example, the course as an investigation, the anatomy of the course and its unfolding, less its place in the entire curriculum (though that is something I intend to investigate over time after this course has been offered on several occasions) in the course portfolio you find here.

To learn more about the origin and development of the course portfolio I recommend aforementioned publication of AAHE. To view other course portfolios, visit the Gallery of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at the Knowledge Media Laboratory of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Other links to course portfolios can be found at the American Historical Association's Course Portfolio Project and at the Crossroads Project of the American Studies Association.