Academic journal article Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning

Faculty Perceptions of Service as a Mode of Scholarship

Academic journal article Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning

Faculty Perceptions of Service as a Mode of Scholarship

Article excerpt

The authors provide historical context related to the changing nature of scholarship and how it is rewarded, paying particular attention to the concept of service. Data collected from education faculty employed at Mississippi public universities is then used to identify how perceptions of service as a supported form of scholarship correlate to institutional policies (most notably tenure and promotion policies). Conclusions are consistent with other studies that find the service role to be neither highly valued nor well defined. However, it appears that institutional initiatives aimed at broadening the notion of service and strengthening rewards for it are reflected in faculty perceptions on individual campuses. It is not clear, however, that faculty behaviors actually conform to those perceptions. Some of the qualitative data suggest that other social, cultural, political, and contextual realities within an institution and/or discipline have an equal or greater role in the formation of these perceptions. These considerations about service are considered in the context of recent exhortations for faculty to incorporate activities immediately useful for communities into their work.


In announcing the 76 institutions to receive the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching new elective Community Engagement classification, Amy Driscoll, associate senior scholar and director of the pilot project, noted that, "even among the most compelling applications, few institutions described promotion and tenure policies that recognize and reward the scholarship associated with community engagement" (available online: http://www.carnegie news/sub.asp?key=51&subkey=2126). Driscoll's tempering of the Carnegie announcement is significant: for many advocates of postsecondary community engagement and academic service-learning, sustainability of efforts is linked to ensuring faculty reward for efforts in these areas. Given the importance of reward structures for the future of community engagement on college campuses, we know little about faculty perceptions on this topic. Of the nearly 200 articles published to date in the Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, approximately 13 have explored factors that motivate, influence, or impact faculty involved in service-learning or community-based research. However, none have focused directly on the specific issue of how faculty perceptions and behaviors may be influenced by reward structures. This article investigates faculty perceptions of the relationship between the concepts of service and scholarship, exploring the impact of institutional attempts to modify those perceptions.

Literature Review

Scholarship and Service: A Historical Context

What is regarded as scholarship in higher education has evolved over time. From the beginning, there has been a clash between the traditional classical (Great Books) curriculum and the idea that academe ought to serve a more direct utilitarian purpose in society (Flexner, 1994; Jencks & Reisman, 1968; Kerr, 1995; Lucas, 1994; Rudolph, 1990; Veysey, 1965). According to an 1829 Yale Report, the focus of scholarship was almost entirely dedicated to providing instruction until the mid- and late-1800s (Lucas, 1994). In 1866, Andrew D. White stated that at Cornell University, "facility and power in imparting the truth are even more necessary than in discovering it." Less than 30 years later, William Rainey Harper announced that the University of Chicago would make investigation its primary work (Rudolph, 1990), and Johns Hopkins' first president, Daniel Coit Gilman, asserted that "the best teachers are usually those who are free, competent and willing to make original researches in the library and the laboratory" (available online:

At about this same time, the Wisconsin Idea, representing the most complete and direct engagement of college or university resources toward addressing social problems, was established by Richard T. …

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