A Look at the Scholarship of Online Teaching and Learning

The concept of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) was developed over 25 years ago and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) for online teaching and learning appeared over 10 years ago.  Because scholarly recognition comes from the discipline, some researchers determined to find out how online faculty deal with the SoTL.  There is much literature that brought it, to what it is today, which is, what this paper will outline.

The Origins of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

Ernest Boyer served as the President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in the years 1979-1995.  During this time, much of his work and interest revolved around educational reform.  He wrote many reports and spurred conversations between teachers and administrator addressing such topics as teaching methods and programs. (Goldberg, 1995).

In 1990, Boyer wrote the report titled, Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate, concludes that “the work of the professoriate might be thought of as having four separate as well as overlapping functions, the scholarship of discovery, the scholarship of integration; the scholarship of application and the scholarship of teaching.” (Boyer, 1990). Boyer’s model identified four categories for scholarship. They are the scholarship of discovery, integration, application and the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Metzler (1994) in his work titled, Scholarship reconsidered for the professoriate of 2010, he argued that “the predominant system of identifying, conducting and rewarding scholarship is mismatched with the shifting mission of higher education.  Success in the current monolithic system is based on one’s record of publication in adjudicated journals not on the generation and dissemination of knowledge that benefits academic disciplines, students and other constituent groups.”  Consequently, Metzler identifies the importance of teaching and learning and agrees with Boyer in that it too should be a scholarship, not just the types of monolithic scholarship that dominate the scholarship and publication current status.

Ernest Boyer worked closely with Eugene Rice.  Eugene Rice served as a senior fellow at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  He worked on a national study of the scholarly priorities of the American professoriate and collaborated with the late Ernest Boyer on the Carnegie report Scholarship Reconsidered.

Eugene Rice also served ten years as director of the Forum on Faculty Roles and Rewards and the New Pathways projects at the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE). Gene Rice’s work at AAHE with Faculty Roles and Rewards and his working paper “The New American Scholar” (1996) framed the agenda for faculty and administrators in higher education.

Dr. Glassick, a senior associate of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching assisted Ernest Boyer in Scholarship Reconsidered and was the principle author of Scholarship Assessed, in his work titled, Boyer’s Expanded Definitions of Scholarship, the Standards for Assessing Scholarship, and the Elusiveness of the Scholarship of Teaching, states, “Although Boyer’s commitment was clear, the scholarship of teaching was to become the most difficult of Boyer’s proposals to interpret and implement…the major difficulties arise in two areas. They are (1) the meaning of ‘‘the scholarship of teaching’’ and (2) the question of how the quality of scholarship shall be measured. I [Dr. Glassick] explore these two topics in depth in the remainder of this article.” (Glassick, 2000).

Charles E. Glassick, Mary Taylor Huber, and Gene I. Maeroff, in their book Scholarship Assessed: Evaluation of the Professoriate (1997), expanded Boyer’s model with 6 key criteria: 1. Clear goals; 2. Adequate preparation; 3. Appropriate methods; 4. Significant results; 5. Effective presentation; 6. Reflective critique.

As time progressed, Randy Isaacson (2000), editor of The Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (JoSoTL), observed that, “In campuses across the country, from Level I research universities to community colleges, colleagues began to discuss the Boyer model and its implications for their scholarly endeavors, their teaching, and their professional lives.  For the first time in fifty years our profession began to reflect seriously on the potential for new roles and rewards within the institutions.”

The publication by Hutchings et al, (2000), titled, The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Reconsidered: Institutional Integration and Impact, was a compilation of reports by eight Carnegie Scholars who are working to develop a scholarship of teaching and learning that will advance the profession of teaching and improve student learning. Huber & Morreale (2002) in their published work titled, Disciplinary Styles in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Exploring Common Ground”, offered additional discussion on the scholarship of teaching and learning. “In response to an orienting essay about the scholarship of teaching and learning, scholars from 10 disciplines describe the evolution of a discourse about teaching and learning. “

In 1998, the Carnegie foundation started a major initiative called the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL).  The goal of CASTL is to render teaching public, subject to critical evaluation, and usable by others in both the scholarly and the general community.  Many institutions across the country started up CASTL centers for this purpose.

The Digital Era

With the changing educational climate due to the digital era and the popularity of online education there is a prevalence in the discussion on the use of digital material in the classroom.  According to Schon (1995), in the work titled, The new scholarship requires a new epistemology, “argued that the new norms of scholarship championed by Ernest Boyer in “Scholarship Reconsidered” conflict with the norms of technical rationality, the fundamental epistemology of research universities, such that they cannot gain legitimacy in institutions exclusively dedicated to technical rationality.”  In the work titled, Scholarship in Teaching and Learning: An Interview with John Mitterer, by Daniel (2009) a discussion on the relation between cognitive psychology and teaching and learning as well as digital technologies in the classroom such as “a wide variety of learning materials, including textbooks, videodiscs of support materials, student-learning CD-ROMs, online learning objects, Web sites, test banks, PowerPoint slides, study guides, and instructor’s manuals…Mitterer now thinks of himself as a scholar of teaching and learning with a special interest in the educational potential of digital technology…His interest in the development of effective teaching has informed his current efforts to develop effective pedagogical techniques that positively impact both student learning and teacher.”  Kreber & Kanuka look at the evolution of scholarship of teaching and learning and discuss how it may contribute to developing effective online teaching and learning using interactive capabilities of internet communication technologies.  Greenhow et al (2009) offers insights on how educational scholarship might be transformed with Web 2.0 technologies.  Mary Bair & David Bair (2011) conducted a literature review and found that there was a lot literature on online students in the online environment, but a gap on information regarding the experiences of faculty who teach online.  Reilly et al (2012) state faculty development on eLearning is a critical process.  Overall, a discussion on the online environment and its impact on the scholarship of teaching and learning as well as the scholarship of online teaching and learning is prevalent.

 

Else & Crookes (2015) look at the Online Presence of Teaching and Learning within Australian University Websites.  They state, “As the Internet is now one of the primary sources of visibility, this study examines how Australia’s 39 universities present their teaching and learning profiles online.  The results revealed that while certain teaching and learning aspects such as professional development and awards are consistently presented across the Australian tertiary sector online, other aspects such as scholarship of teaching and learning research foci and external impact are not generally visible on Australian university websites.”

Contributions for and from Online Teaching and Learning

Further research and discussion encourages and offers additional tools for scholarship of teaching and learning in the online environment.  Horspool & Lange in their work titled, Applying the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Student Perceptions, Behaviors and Success Online and Face-to-Face, compare student perceptions, learning behaviors and success in online and face-to-face versions of a Principles of Microeconomics course.  Price & Kirkwood (2014) in their work titled, Using Technology for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: A Critical Review of the Role of Evidence in Informing Practice, they state, “The use of technology for teaching and learning is now widespread, but its educational effectiveness is still open to question…The academic developer’s role appears to be key in mediating evidence for practitioners.”  Kinash et al (2015) look at how digital scholarship affect student learning on their work titled, Does Digital Scholarship through Online Lectures Affect Student Learning. “Their overall conclusions are that online digital content is a worthwhile learning and teaching pursuit and discipline and context must be considered in designing the particular approach.”  Cassada & Sloboda (2014) in their work titled, “Leading the Charge for SoTL–Embracing Collaboration” conclude that “presenting a carefully crafted research agenda in SoTL, colleges and universities can disseminate this research as a means of providing useful assessments of student learning and measurements of relevant outcomes.”  Else & Crookes (2015) look at the Online Presence of Teaching and Learning within Australian University Websites.  They state, “As the Internet is now one of the primary sources of visibility, this study examines how Australia’s 39 universities present their teaching and learning profiles online.  The results revealed that while certain teaching and learning aspects such as professional development and awards are consistently presented across the Australian tertiary sector online, other aspects such as scholarship of teaching and learning research foci and external impact are not generally visible on Australian university websites.”

Online Scholarly Communities & Collaboration

With the popularity of the online environment one sees the emergence of online scholarly communities and collaboration.  Cirillo & Shaw (2007) and Brew (2011) discuss how the SOTL should move towards a model based on the notion of academic communities of practice and not just scholarly or academic.  Barnard et al (2011) discuss how peer partnership programs enhanced the commitment and insight into teaching thereby promoting the scholarship of teaching.  Wood & Friedel (2009) discuss how an integrated peer review system can be used to stimulate the scholarship of online learning and teaching.  Kalantzis & Cope (2012) created an online collaboration tool named, Scholar, which can be used for knowledge communities and online collaboration.

Recent Trends

From the survey conducted by Hart Research Associates for the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), in the report titled, Recent Trends in General Education Design, Learning Outcomes, and Teaching Approaches (2016), key findings from a national survey among chief academic officers at AAC&U member institutions explore how institutions are defining common learning outcomes, trends related to general education design and the use of emerging, evidence-based teach­ing and learning practices. This is the second report in a series featuring findings.

In regards to the “Digital Learning Opportunities: The large majority of administrators at AAC&U member institutions think that at least some of the teaching faculty at their institution are effectively using available digital learning tools. Nonetheless, most indicate room for their campuses to expand the effective use of digital learning tools, with notable differences in the appetite for the expansion of digital learning by Carnegie classification and affiliation. Only about one-third (36%) of chief academic officers think that most of the teaching faculty at their institution are effectively using available digital learning 6 Page 8 tools, and another 61% think that some faculty are doing so. Just 3% think very few are doing so. There is broad agreement across administrators at AAC&U member institutions, however, that most of the teaching faculty at their campuses should be using more digital learning strategies in undergraduate courses (89% agree, including 44% who strongly agree). There is a notable difference in the intensity of agreement by Carnegie Classification: 52% of administrators at doctoral/research institutions and 53% at master’s institutions strongly agree, compared with just 29% at baccalaureate institutions. Those at public institutions (51% strongly agree) also are in closer agreement than are those at religious (42%) and non-religious independent institutions (36%). Overall, more than three in five (62%) administrators indicate that increasing the number of undergraduate online courses is a high or medium priority at their institution. There also are notable differences by Carnegie classification and type of institution on this question: more administrators at doctoral/research (68% medium/high priority) and master’s institutions (70%) indicate it is a priority than do those at baccalaureate institutions (37%). Those at public institutions (78%) also are more likely than those at religious (57%) and other independent institutions (40%) to prioritize increasing the number of undergraduate online courses. Digital Learning Among AAC&U Member Institutions (among all AAC&U member institutions) All Respondents % Proportion of current faculty using digital learning tools effective in their courses Most 36 Some 61 Very few 3 All or most of our teaching faculty should be using more digital learning strategies in undergraduate courses or programs Total agree 89 Agree strongly 44 Priority institution places on increasing the number of undergraduate online courses offered to students High priority 26 Medium priority 36 Minor/not a priority 38 Competency-based education programs at institution Entire program is competency-based 1 Offer some programs in CBE format 10 Do not currently offer, but are considering developing 40 Do not currently offer, no plans to develop 49 Page 9 Competency-based education programs are currently offered by only a small number of AAC&U member institutions (11%), but 40% of administrators say their campuses are considering developing them; 49% say they have no plans to do so. Those at baccalaureate institutions are the most likely to say they do not offer CBE programs and have no plans to do so (72%)—compared with just 44% of those at doctoral/research institutions and 37% of those at master’s institutions.”

 aacu

(Hart Research Associates, 2016)

Future Research

As one can see throughout the literature starting with Boyer definition of the SoTL model, Glassick et al refining it, the Carnegie’s Foundation promoting CASTL, Rice’s dedication and influence at the American Association for Higher Education, the changing due to the digital era and popularity of the online environment promoting online scholarly communities and collaboration, as well as, the introduction and implementation of online tools and strategies for the scholarship of teaching and learning,   Therefore, future discussions and research for SoTL appear to include emerging advances in educational technologies, online collaboration and communities, as well as, digital environments and accessibility.  These transformations due to the technological advances of the educational environment and practitioner’s online knowledge communities will not only be reflected as a new learning discipline of scholarship but also as an enhanced SoTL process model itself.

References

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partnership to enhance scholarship of teaching: A case study. Higher Education Research         and Development, 30(4), 435-448. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/docview/1011399462?accountid=14553.

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