Scholarship

In higher education, there is a longstanding divide between teaching and research with an overvaluing of traditional research (scholarship of discovery) and an undervaluing of teaching. Indeed, a growing number of university units (including schools of nursing in the U.S.) are sorting their faculty into one of two workforces: teaching (the plebeians) and research (the patricians). And even when faculty are not officially sorted, they are de facto sorted. If a faculty member does not bring in sufficient research funding (typically for nursing and other healthcare faculty this comes from the fast dwindling coffers of the National Institutes of Health), he or she does not have sufficient “buy out” and is given a heavier teaching load. And, of course, there is the increasing issue of unequal pay for the plebeians/teachers and the patrician/researchers, as well as the fact that more part-time (underpaid/overworked/non tenure-track) faculty are hired to teach. 

Within that disheartening academic landscape there are glimmers of hope. There are still professors who are daft enough to love teaching (most days I am one of the daft ones). And there is the growing field of the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). The brief video below does a good job providing an overview of SoTL, including its origins and future directions. For instance, I am encouraged by the move within SoTL to include students as co-researchers. The Vanderbilt Center for Teaching has a comprehensive guide to the “doing” of SoTL.