Office of Faculty Development
Using Evidence to Teach (Scholarly Teaching)
Whether you are a scholar of biology, medieval history, or physics, you follow scholarly processes that are specific to your discipline. The scholarly process of teaching uses a social science approach similar to the process you used in doing research reports in college:
- define your needs(in this case, helping students reach learning objectives)
- consult the literature
- choose and implement methods
- document findings
- analyze results
- obtain feedback
- adapt teaching methods and learning experiences accordingly for the next time the course is taught
Since 1990, faculty, administrators, and faculty development professionals have been working to understand and implement what the Carnegie Foundation described as the four appropriate types of scholarship for the American faculty: the scholarships of Discovery, Integration, Application/Practice, and Teaching (Boyer, 1990). Unfortunately, the concept of a scholarship of teaching became mixed up with the act of teaching itself. Actually, two different activities are involved: scholarly teaching and the resulting scholarship (Richlin, 1993, 1998). Scholarly teaching and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) are closely interrelated, but they differ in both their intent and product. Because both are vital to the life of the academy, it is necessary to clarify and operationalize each of them (Richlin, 1993, 2001).
Scholarly teaching is a method of designing and implementing a course or other teaching/learning activity to improve the learning of the students in the course. A scholarly instructor collects materials and reflects on observations throughout the course/experience, systematically documenting them. The best format for documenting observations is a course design portfolio. By concentrating on achieving student Learning objectives in an individual course, you can update your design each time you teach, based on what your students learned in the previous course.
After the course is over, you are able to analyze t he information you collected during the course. What types of questions did the students miss on tests? What parts of assignments confused the students? Was the level of the objectives, work, and grading appropriate for your students? Did you have the necessary resources? What adaptations will you make the next time you teach?
Submitting work for peer review is part of all scholarly processes. Teaching or course portfolios may be submitted to one’s department, a special campus committee, or peers at other institutions. The assessment of the course is focused on materials and student work and also may include observations of class sessions. This evaluation of teaching is more authentic than evaluations based on inputs such as counting the instructor’s use of examples or asking students to compare the course with other courses. Using the course portfolio enables you to compare your results to what you had observed before you began, in order to determine how well the teaching experiences you chose resulted in student learning.
The course portfolio completed in CDU OFD Academic Boot Camp documents scholarly teaching.