Broadening Scholarship

by Brian Katz

What is your job as a graduate student? I think the answers to this question that you’ll hear floating down the halls differ substantially, depending in part on the definition of scholarship at your institution. And these definitions are changing.

In his 1990 report, Scholarship Reconsidered, Boyer proposed a model of professorial scholarship that divides into four types: discovery, integration, application, and teaching. The scholarship of discovery matches very closely with the current disciplinary research, while the scholarship of integration involves making connections between your discipline and others’. The scholarship of application refers to work that uses scholarly activity to address questions out in the world. Finally, Boyer suggests that there is a scholarship of teaching, and that the academy should expect its member to approach teaching in a scholarly manner.

Since the publication of Boyer’s report, the Carnegie Foundation has been providing opportunities for academics to think about the ways in which the scholarship of teaching, which is now called the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL), can be approached and evaluated in a scholarly manner. They have developed an interesting hierarchy of teacher-scholars, from the reflective teacher (who spends some time thinking about what happens in the classroom) to the scholarly teacher (who makes decisions about classroom design informed by research, articulates her own thoughts and research on the issues, and shares those ideas publicly).

Now I will ask the question again: what is your job as a graduate student? Your job is to become the kind of scholar you wish to be and to get ready for the kind of scholarly job you would like to have. If you are interested in ending up at an R1 post-doc, then I think your job is to focus almost exclusively on the scholarship of discovery or integration. But if you are interested in a job at a more teaching-focused institution, perhaps you should at least have investigated your interest in other forms of scholarship. In particular, it has been my experience that administrators at small liberal arts colleges have been influenced greatly by Boyer and the subsequent conversations. Along this line, I would like to suggest that you take a look at the young journal PRIMUS (Problems, Resources, and Issues in Mathematical Undergraduate Studies). By scanning the titles and abstracts, I can almost guarantee that you will find an article that either helps you solve a current classroom challenge or inspires you to think about teaching more scholarly.

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