Academic journal article Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning

Exploring Faculty Perspectives on Community Engaged Scholarship: The Case for Q Methodology

Academic journal article Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning

Exploring Faculty Perspectives on Community Engaged Scholarship: The Case for Q Methodology

Article excerpt

Over the past 25 years, community engaged scholarship has grown in popularity, practice, and scholarship. A review of the literature suggests that a wide range of personal, professional, institutional, and communal factors (Demb & Wade, 2012) interact in ways that shape faculty members' perspectives on, conceptualizations of, and means of conducting community engaged work. To make sense of the potential number of factor combinations and inform more customized support for community engaged faculty, the authors discuss the merits and utility of faculty typologies. Q Methodology offers a way to create a typology that is capable of not only managing the complexity of faculty engagement, but also providing rich descriptions of varied points of view that do not oversimplify the phenomenon. The techniques and foundational assumptions of Q Methodology are described, making the case for Q as a good fit for developing a typology of community engaged faculty that more fully reflects multiple points of view.

For America's colleges and universities to remain vital[,] a new vision
of scholarship is required. What we are faced with, today, is the need
to clarify campus missions and relate the work of the academy more
directly to the realities of contemporary life. We need especially to
ask how institutional diversity can be strengthened and how the rich
array of faculty talent in our college and universities might be more
effectively used and continuously renewed. We proceed with the
conviction that if the nation's higher learning institutions are to
meet today's urgent academic and social mandates, their missions must
be carefully redefined and the meaning of scholarship creatively
reconsidered. (Boyer, 1990, p. 13)

Recognizing the criticism that higher education was growing more disconnected from and irrelevant to society by no longer addressing the heart of the nation's work (Delve, Mintz, & Stewart, 1990; Newman, 1985), Boyer (1990) issued a clarion call to institutions of higher education to remember their missions and to reconsider how scholarship is conceptualized. Colleges and universities around the country began heeding this call to broaden their notions of scholarship and to take seriously their responsibility to serve their wider communities (Fitzgerald, Bruns, Sonka, Furco, & Swanson, 2016; Kezar, Chambers, & Burkhardt, 2005). These efforts entailed critically reflecting on the role of community involvement in their institutions, especially with regard to the nature of faculty work (Bringle, Hatcher, & Holland, 2007; Saltmarsh, 2011; Stanton, 2008; Zlotkowski, 2011), and sparked the growth of the scholarship of engagement (SOE) movement.

Since Boyer's landmark work, the scholarship on the scholarship of engagement has blossomed. Research on faculty engagement has focused on defining engagement (Boyer, 1990, 1996; Giles, 2008; O'Meara, 2002), examining dimensions of faculty life (Demb & Wade, 2012; O'Meara, 2008; Wade & Demb, 2009), exploring the impact of engagement on faculty (Rice, 2002; Rice, Sorcinelli, & Austin, 2000) and identifying activities that comprise faculty engagement (Glass, Doberneck, & Schweitzer, 2011; O'Meara, Sandmann, Saltmarsh, & Giles, 2010). Due to the range of engagement activities in which faculty and staff members participate, scholars have faced the challenge of determining which activities to emphasize (O'Meara et al., 2010), and how to ensure quality work (Glassick, Huber, & Maeroff, 1997) is made visible (Driscoll & Lynton, 1999). Expanding the scope of research from faculty to institutions, scholars have also examined the institutional context (Demb & Wade, 2012; Holland, 1997; O'Meara, 2005; Stanton, 2008; Wade & Demb, 2009), identified ways to integrate institutional research and learning within the broader context of their communities (Boyte & Hollander, 1996; Buzinski et al., 2013), and established key components to advance and institutionalize engagement efforts (Fitzgerald et al. …

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