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Scholarly method — or as it is more commonly called, scholarship — is the body of principles and practices used by scholars to make their claims about the world as valid and trustworthy as possible, and to make them known to the scholarly public. In its broadest sense, scholarship can be taken to include the scientific method, which is the body of scholarly practice that governs the sciences. (Wikipedia, retrieved 20:23, 19 November 2007 (MET)).

The question is whether what I (Daniel K. Schneider) and others do here can be considered scholarship. According to Boyer's definition of scholarship (see below) it could...

“The twentieth century saw the university change from a site in which teaching and research stood in a reasonably comfortable relationship with each other to one in which they became mutually antagonistic (2003:157).” (Barnett, 2003: 157).

See also:

Boyer's four part paradigm

  1. Advancing knowledge is the most essential form of scholarship; Basic research has come to be viewed as the first and most essential form of scholarly activity, with the other functions flowing from it.
  2. Synthesizing and integrating knowledge gives meaning to isolated facts, “putting them into perspective…making connections across disciplines, placing the specialties in larger context, illuminating data in a revealing way, often educating non-specialists.”
  3. Applying knowledge occurs when the scholar asks, “How can knowledge be responsibly applied to consequential problems? How can it be helpful to individuals as well as to institutions?”
  4. Representing knowledge through teaching “means not only transmitting knowledge but transforming and extending it as well…” In other words, the teacher is also seen as a learner.
(Carol Holmes, broken link)

Summarized by Zamorski (2003:3-4) [first parts] and Scott (2001:Abstract) [second parts]

  1. The scholarship of discovery (An activity of investigation):
    • Boyer states that: 'research is at the very heart of academic life, and we celebrate what we call the scholarship of discovery. Research will always be central to the work of higher learning, and in the century ahead, universities must support and provide a home for this essential function.'
    • "reflects our pressing, irrepressible need as human beings to confront the unknown and to seek understanding for its own sake. It is tied inextricably to the freedom to think freshly, to see propositions of every kind in ever changing light. And it celebrates the special exhilaration that comes with a new idea."
  2. The scholarship of integration (An activity of synthesis):
    • This is a plea for inter-disciplinarity, as, Boyer argues: 'in the coming century, there will be an urgent need for scholars who go beyond the isolated facts; who make connections across the disciplines; and who begin to discover a more coherent view of knowledge and a more integrated, more authentic, view of life.'
    • "Through the scholarship of integration, we give meaning to isolated facts by fitting them into larger patterns, making connections across disciplines, and interpreting what has been discovered in ways that provide a larger, more comprehensive understanding."
  3. The scholarship of application (An activity of engagement) :
    • Boyer suggests that the third element, application: 'defines the campus not as an isolated island, but as a staging ground for action.' Here he argues for a 'reciprocity' - both between higher education and societal development, and 'from theory to practice, and from practice back to theory.'
    • Otherwise, he suggests, we fall into the trap of 'irrelevance'. "The scholarship of application engages us to solve consequential problems with our gained knowledge for the good of individuals and society. Here is where theory and practice interact vitally, each renewing the other."
  4. The scholarship of teaching (An activity of transmission):
    • Boyer suggests that for the next century, universities need to 'deepen their commitment to the scholarship of teaching' as it is 'through the influence of great teachers that the flame of scholarship is kept alive from one generation to the next'. In order to do so, he suggests that we need to reinterpret our conception of teaching and reaffirm it as the 'heart of the scholarly endeavour ... if the lifelong interests of the students of the coming century are to be met.'
    • Through the scholarship of teaching, we ensure the continuity of knowledge and stimulate students to be critical, creative thinkers. Through teaching, knowledge is not only transmitted, but transformed and extended as students and teachers are impelled in creative new directrions. Inspired teaching "keeps the flame of scholarship alive."

(Boyer 1994: 116 - 121)

These four functions are not necessarily separate. Research, teaching and service activities all may include some or all of these functions. In practice, this is often not the case. According to Glassick et al. (1997), scholarship must have clear goals, show adequate preparation, use appropriate methods, show significant results, exhibit effective presentation, and have a reflective critique. It is much easier to meet these goals through fundamental research (scholarship of discovery) as opposed to applied research that targets significant societal issues (such as improving school's performance).

A critical function to make things happen in practise is Boyer's scholarship of engagement, that seeks to to bridge the gap between the worlds inside and ousite of the academy and to center this deeply and squarely within the context of disciplinar understanding ([1]). Rice (2002) defines the following components.

  • Engaged pedagogy. University teachers themselves should rethink their relationship with students (in particular for service-learning like teacher training that is contextual and social).
  • Community-based research. Local and global knowledge should be aligned and it may turn out that the "most knowledgeable peers might well be representatives of the local community and not of the academy (Rice: 15).
  • Collaborative practise. "No more prizes for predicting rain. Prizes only for building the arks". The focus here is on concrete, protracted community-based problems. (Rice: 15).

“The scholarship of teaching and learning as part of an enlarged vision of the scholarly work of faculty members has established a firm foothold in the faculty reward systems of many colleges and universities. The scholarship of engagement is only beginning to make a coherent case for recognition that is more than local and idiosyncratic.” (Rice :16)

Problems with educational research and innovation

(some citations from and OECD study)

“Deeply ingrained in the self-image and the attitudes of the academic world is (...) the notion that there exists a set of theories and principles - some known, some waiting to be discovered - that can be applied rigorously to well defined problems and lead to correct solution. Application in this conceptual framework is no more than the act of putting theory to use and, therefore, is not in and of itself a potential source of new knowledge. Hence the flow of knowledge is linear and unidirectional, from the locus of research to the place of application, from scholar to practitioner, teacher to student, expert to client (Lynton, 1996, p. 81).” Such a framework of "technical rationality" (Schön, 1983) is in conflict with the innovation systems approach to technical innovation, mentioned above, that sees innovation as a social process with many players, feedback-loops and multi-directional channels of communication. (OECD 2000:166).

“If the purpose of educational research is (...) to inform educational decisions and educational actions, then our overall conclusion is that the actions and decisions of policy-makers and practitioners are insufficiently informed by research (...). The lack of an effective dialogue and understanding between researchers, policy-makers and practitioners is illustrated by the fact that while most of the researchers felt that the balance of the research agenda was too skewed towards policy and practice, the practitioners and policy-makers thought the opposite” (Hillage et al., 1998) cited by (OECD 2000: 43).

“The reasons hypothesised for the apparent failure of research to influence teaching can be grouped into four general hypotheses: a) The research itself is not sufficiently persuasive or authoritative; the quality of educational studies has not been high enough to provide compelling, unambiguous or authoritative results to practitioners; b) The research has not been relevant to practice. It has not been sufficiently practical, it has not addressed teachers' questions, nor has it adequately acknowledged their constraints; c) Ideas from research have not been accessible to teachers; d) The education system is itself intractable and unable to change, or it is conversely inherently unstable, overly susceptible to fads, and consequently unable to engage in systematic change. Either of these characteristics (...) render it incapable of responding reliably to research” (Kennedy, 1997). cited by (OECD 2000:44).

Individual [teachers] must resolve recurrent problems largely unaided by systematic, relevant knowledge (...). Teaching has not been subjected to the sustained, empirical and practice-oriented inquiry into problems and alternatives which we find in university-based professions. It has been permitted to remain evanescent; there is no equivalent to the recording found in surgical cases, law cases and physical models of engineering and architectural achievement. Such records, coupled with commentaries and critiques of highly trained professors, allow new generations to pick up where earlier ones finished (...). [T]o an astonishing degree the beginner in teaching must start afresh, uninformed about prior solutions and alternative approaches to recurring practical problems. What student [teachers] learn about teaching, then, is intuitive and imitative rather than explicit and analytical; it is based on individual personalities rather than pedagogical principles (...). One's personal predispositions are not only relevant but, in fact, stand at the core of becoming a teacher (Lortie, 1975). (OECD 2000:44-45).

At the same time, most akes a strong point about the importance of preparing young children for school. Education of the parents of preschoolers was essential so that they might know "all of the forces that have such a profound impact on the children's lives and shape their readiness to learn." This study led to educational television programs such as Sesame Street, and landmark legislation such as the Ready to Learn Act of 1994.teachers have, especially in recent years, been the target of much material from ministries, advisory bodies, academics and colleagues that relates to their professional activities. All these are sources of mediation from research and from advances in the social sciences that influence the way both professional problems and their possible solution are conceptualised. To what extent, in what way and with what effect (beneficial or otherwise) such mediations operate remains a mystery. It seems likely that much of this is not absorbed by many teachers, or is retained by them at the level of rhetoric or espoused theory but fails to penetrate everyday professional practice. The art of teaching probably remains largely self-taught through individual trial-and-error learning in the busy but professionally isolated world of the classroom where there is relatively little opportunity for reflection. In consequence the teacher's knowledge-base is unusually rich in personal, tacit know-how but impoverished in terms of shared, codified knowledge. (OECD 2000:45).

The relation between theory and practise

Educational research is potentially a great resource for supporting learner-centered practices, but there is a disjuncture between the worlds of the educational researcher and the practitioner (whether faculty member, instructional technologist, or learning designer). A few years ago at the International Conference on Learning Sciences held in Ann Arbor, keynote speaker Linda Roberts commented on a 500+ page proceeding, saying "This is fabulous, relevant, and meaningful work... the only problem is: no one who needs it is going to read it." That is, there is not much of a bridge between research and practice.

By the same token, the bridge for practice to inform theory is also absent. Practitioners have an opportunity to situate their own practice in a research and scholarship of teaching and learning context. Practitioners could build into their project designs components, such as transformative assessment, that help advance and transform the understanding of teaching and learning with technology, but often lack the skills, methodologies or framework to do this.

(Bridging Communities of Research & Practice to Transform Higher Education Teaching and Learning, June 28, 2004

Design is a "reflective conversation with the materials of the situation" (Schön, 1983). But can one publish a conversation ?

In terms of Boyer: Scholarship of discovery ("pure research") is essential. But pure research cannot be immediately reflected in scholarship of application since "real world" problems are swampy (Schön) and do not lend themselves for clean research. In other words, real world problems also require scholarship of integration. Integration is time consuming and not highly valued in most disciplines. It is usually done at the start of an academic career (the theory part of some PhD's) and at towards the end (e.g. through writing texbooks).

Integration of theory and practise in education is a long process. In Daniel K. Schneider's opinion the time to implement deeps reforms can take between 30 years (a generation) and 100 years (three generations). Burkhardt and Schoenfeld (2003) estimate a time scale of 25 years for "long route" research and practice projects. The reason why innovation in education takes more time than the typical 23 years +/- 5 years is that educational change requires educational change in teacher training plus long term field experiments in real educational settings. This task relies on scholarship of application that in turn relies on scholarhip of integration and discovery.



  • Barnett, R. (2003). Beyond All Reason: Living with Ideology in the University Buckingham: Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press
  • Boyer, E. L. (1990). Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities for the professoriate. Special report of The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Boyer, E. (1994). Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities for a New Century. In Rigby, G. (Ed) Universities in the Twenty-First Century: a Lecture Series London: National Commission on Education.
  • Boyer, E. (1997). Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. Jossey-Bass. ISBN 0-7879-4069-0. (is this a reprint of the 1990 publication ?).
  • Rice, R. Eugene (2002). Beyond "Scholarship Reconsidered": Toward an Enlarged Vision of the Scholarly Work of Faculty Members. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 90, 7-17.
  • Finn, C.E. (1988),"What ails education research?", Educational Researcher, Vol. 17(1), pp. 5-8.
  • Glassick, Charles E.; Mary Taylor Huber, and Gene I. Maeroff (1997). Scholarship Assessed: Evaluation of the Professoriate, Jossey-Bass.
  • Hillage, J., Pearson, R., Anderson, A. And Tamkin, P. (1998), Excellence in Research in Schools, Department for Education and Employment.
  • Hutchings Pat (2001). Reflections on the Scholarship of Teaching and LearningEssays on Teaching Excellence. Toward the Best in the Academy. 13 (5).
  • Kennedy, M.M. (1997), "The connection between research and practice", Educational Research, Vol. 26(7), pp. 4-12.
  • Lortie, D.C. (1975), Schoolteacher, University of Chicago Press.
  • OECD (2000). Knowledge Management In The Learning Society, Centre For Educational Research And Innovation, Organisation For Economic Co-Operation And Development, PDF, retrieved 20:23, 19 November 2007 (MET).
  • Rowland, Stephen (2002). Overcoming Fragmentation in Professional Life: The Challenge for Academic Development, Higher Education Quarterly 56 (1), 52-64. doi:10.1111/1468-2273.00202
  • Scott, Rosalyn P. (2001). Our contributions: scholarship revisited, The Annals of Thoractic Surgery 71, 30-54.
  • * Schneider, Daniel (2008). Edutech Wiki - an all-in-one solution to support whole scholarship ?, Best practice paper, Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2008 (ed-media 08), PDF pre-print
  • Schön, D. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner. How professionals think in action, London: Temple Smith.
  • Schön, Donald (1988): Educating the Reflective Practitioner: Toward A New Design for Teaching and Learning in the Professions. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.
  • Schön, D. A. (1995). The new scholarship requires a new epistemology: Knowing-in-action. Change Magazine, 27, (2), 10-17. Also published in Deborah DeZure (ed.) (2000). Learning from Change: Landmarks in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Routledge, ISBN 0749433965.
  • Zamorski, Barbara (2003). Keynote Address: The role of scholarship and research in teaching and learning in Higher Education. International Conference - Lithuanian Higher Education: Diagnoses and Prognoses, 11 - 12 December 2003., PDF, retrieved 19:04, 19 November 2007 (MET)