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Teaching as Scholarship

How Do We Capture the Intellectual Qualities of Teaching?

Scholars have long believed, as Physicist Robert Oppenheimer said in 1954, “It is proper to the role of the scientist that he not merely find the truth…but that he teach, that he try to bring the most honest and most intelligible account of new knowledge to all who will try to learn.” But it was Ernest Boyer’s 1990 report “Scholarship Reconsidered” that took these ancient commitments of the scholar to teaching and carried the idea an additional step. He argued that teaching is not merely a logical outcome of scholarship but it is most properly thought of as a form of scholarship, along with the scholarships of discovery [what we normally call research], integration and application. Teaching as scholarship implies that we recognize that the creation of a course is a challenging, creative and consequential intellectual task and that every course we craft is a lens into our field and our personal conception of our disciplines or inter-disciplines.

As Russell Edgerton, Pat Hutchings and Kathleen Quinlan wrote in their discussion of the scholarship of teaching, “At bottom, the concept entails a view that teaching, like other scholarly activities…relies on a base of expertise, a ‘scholarly knowing’ that needs to and can be identified, made public and evaluated; a scholarship that faculty themselves must be responsible for monitoring.” Lee Shulman, Boyer’s successor as President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, argued that teaching is the highest form of scholarship because it, unlike any of the others, necessarily entails all of the others. “Indeed,” Boyer wrote, “as Aristotle said, ‘Teaching is the highest form of understanding.'”