Academic journal article Education

Colleges of Education, the New Realities and a Broadened Definition of Scholarship

Academic journal article Education

Colleges of Education, the New Realities and a Broadened Definition of Scholarship

Article excerpt

The academy faces a new and stark reality as it prepares to move into the new century. Governor Tucker's article in this issue sends a strong message to universities. In this article I have attempted to address some of the issues emphasized by Governor Tucker as they specifically impact colleges of education. Further, I present arguments that support my belief that colleges of education can assist us in dealing with the new realities that the whole academy faces.

The New Realities

I believe Governor Tucker's article expresses a view held by most governors and legislators, independent of party affiliation. Hammang and Sweeney in their 1995 report on the issues important to governors and legislators indicated that the governors held the following issues in higher education, listed in priority order, as most important: accountability, program duplication, time to completion for graduation and administrative bloat. For legislators, the issues of importance in priority order are accountability, graduation rates, faculty teaching loads, program duplication and administrative bloat. The body politic is in striking agreement on issues affecting the university, and these issues do not match well those important to the faculty. This is a message we must hear and understand. We must respond to this message with action and not with rhetoric.

We in the academy view the university as a collegial ensemble of teacher-scholars with relative freedom to define the scholarly endeavors each chooses to pursue. By the term teacher-scholar I mean the average faculty member involved in instruction and in some form of scholarship recognized and honored by his or her peers. We value highly the independence implied by this freedom to pursue scholarship. Within this scheme we have come to honor primarily the scholarship of discovery over all other forms. Additionally, we have structured our reward systems to honor almost exclusively the individual teacher-scholar. However, our view of the special place of the teacher-scholar and our commitment to the freedom of inquiry and quest for knowledge for the sake of knowledge is in discord with the new realities that are emerging for the university and the priorities of those who control the fiscal support for public institutions.

This model of the independent teacher-scholar has led to strong allegiance of the faculty to the individual disciplines and the associated learned societies. Our success as individual teacher-scholars not only enhances our personal reputations but also the status of our institutions as viewed by other academic scholars. This process has contributed to the atomization of the university into a large number of small parts that do not interact well. Since the emerging expectations that the society holds for the universities may differ strikingly from those of the past and do not fall cleanly within the individual disciplines, the current structure of the university may not respond easily to these new demands. Certainly, the current reward structures will not likely recognize contributions that address effectively these emerging expectations.

Addressing the Challenge

Five years have passed since Boyer (1990) illuminated the need for the expansion of the definition of scholarship beyond the classic area of discovery into the areas of the scholarship of integration, application and teaching. While many administrators generally agree the academy needs to, embrace this expansion in the definition of scholarship and that the four areas suggested by Boyer are somewhat valid, we have made little substantial progress toward recognizing a broader range of scholarship when addressing important issues such as merit salary increases, promotion, and tenure. We have, as is quite frequently the case, responded much too slowly. Some very notable exceptions exist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Michigan State University. …

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