Education White Paper

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Objective 3: Treating Teaching as Scholarly Work
As I argued in Chapter V, until teaching is viewed as a scholarly activity and peer reviewed, the academic profession itself has not really assumed responsibility for the quality of its own work. If we can dignify teaching as scholarly work and make teaching the community property of the various scholarly societies, we will unleash a dynamic that will make teaching a subject of continuous improvement.

Creating a national marketplace for excellence in teaching similar to the national marketplace that already exists for faculty members who are excellent in research is not a vision that can be fully realized. Reputations for excellence in teaching will never have the cachet and currency of research. Nonetheless, this vision focuses attention on the right task: making excellence in teaching the property of the entire scholarly community. To get there from here, we need three things.

First, the scholarly work of teaching must be put in a form that can be shared with others. We need to encourage faculty to view the teaching of a course as a scholarly project, a project that begins with certain intentions, unfolds in certain ways and results in certain kinds of student learning. At present, faculty members are not in the habit of documenting and displaying their "teaching experiments" in the same way they write up and share their research experiments with colleagues. With support from the Trusts, we can enable faculty to invent ways of doing this.

Second, this scholarly work of teaching needs to be subjected to peer judgment. There are hundreds of faculty members with national reputations for research whose work has never been read by anyone outside their fields. Their work has been judged as significant by their disciplinary colleagues, and their reputations have spread as a result. Teaching can be similarly judged. Nor is there any reason why the peers rendering such judgments need be from the same campus as the teacher being judged. With proper care and documentation, the portfolio of a chemistry teacher at Berkeley, for example, could be reviewed by a chemistry professor at Cornell.

Third, new forms of public recognition of teaching will need to be established. Scholars who do excellent research have dozens of ways to achieve public recognition for their work. They get grants, awards, invitations to become members of prestigious societies and so on, and all of these indicators of status show up on their resumes. Why not the same for teaching?

Actually, that will be the easy part. Once teaching performance becomes visible, portable and subject to peer judgment, new vehicles for recognizing good performance will naturally follow. Models are everywhere. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards offers an example of an organization that confers professional recognition based on individual certification. And there are plenty of examples of honorary societies, such as Phi Beta Kappa, in which local chapters induct outstanding individuals into membership under established guidelines. Already, at several major universities, faculty members have created organizations called Teaching Academies, which induct faculty who are outstanding teachers into membership and capitalize on their talents to improve teaching throughout the university.

Getting from Here to There

These are ambitious goals and objectives. To design projects and programs that will realize them raises future questions. How will we make known our interest to the field? Will we sponsor open competitions or solicit proposals principally by invitation? Once grants are made, what will be our relationship to our grantees? Besides writing checks, what role should the Trusts' Education program play in the change process—for example, in convening grantees and evaluating and disseminating information about our projects?

There is generic, cross-program wisdom within the Trusts on these issues. But each field of endeavor in which we work—the environment, health care and so on—is also a unique and special terrain with particular features to take into account. What is most remarkable about American higher education, especially when seen through the eyes of the rest of the world, is how autonomous our institutions are from governmental control, how diverse they are, how decentralized power and authority is within institutions, and how intense the competition is among our institutions. All these characteristics have important implications for the change strategies we can employ.

First, because power and authority are so broadly dispersed, both across and within institutions, there are many sources of initiative for new ideas and experimentation. For any given educational problem, you can be sure that somewhere out there, creative people are working on solving it. And thanks to the massive federal funding for research since WWII, a culture of entrepreneurship has been created within higher education for writing proposals and seeking grants to solve problems, including problems of improving teaching and learning. The Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, for example, receives more than 2,000 proposals each year but annually awards only about 125 grants. Despite these odds, colleges and universities send in proposals year after year.

Accordingly, I believe that we would be well advised to consider conducting open competitions as a technique for achieving some of our goals and objectives. Open competitions are likely to elicit a range of creative proposals. In addition, the activity of openly soliciting proposals in response to targeted guidelines can have impact far beyond the actual selection of grantees because the guidelines themselves become a catalyst for stimulating activity and directing attention to an area of interest to the Trusts.

But the dispersion of power and authority has another implication as well: the same conditions that stimulate experimentation also inhibit the diffusion and adoption of ideas. In an enterprise in which no one is in charge, no one can tell others what to do. Thus, creative ideas and solutions developed in one setting do not necessarily find "takers" in other settings. The classic conundrum of grantmaking—how to spread successful projects to other settings—is a major problem within the field of higher education.

We are responding to this situation, in part, by selecting goals and objectives that themselves aim to change the incentives—that is, create the demand for improvement. The degree of attention we would give to changing the ways in which the market operates; governments allocate funds; accrediting agencies work; and, especially, the way faculty conceives of teaching are all in one sense "scale-up" strategies—strategies designed to foster a culture of continuous improvement.

But, in addition, I believe we need to pay special attention to the creation of infrastructures (conferencing mechanisms, publications, clearinghouses, etc.) that stimulate and facilitate cross-institutional interchange. Indeed, in most cases it would be foolish to finance pilot projects unless there were infrastructures in place to ensure that their work would not proceed in isolation. I do not only mean infrastructures for dissemination in the classic linear sense of doing an experiment and then communicating the results to others. Rather, I mean to include infrastructures that facilitate the doing of projects in a collaborative and public fashion, so that a number of institutions learn together as they go along.

This point leads to a third. As I have noted earlier, colleges and universities are intensely competitive. Competition creates incentives for institutions to be different and distinctive. But it also breeds a notable reluctance to get too far ahead of the pack. Colleges and universities are forever looking over their shoulders at what peer institutions and competitors are doing. To encourage colleges and universities to take a risky path, it is usually necessary to arrange for them to be in good company. In the past, the Education program has tended to favor grants in which a cluster of lead institutions worked in parallel toward a common goal. I propose to continue this approach.

Autonomy and decentralization also mean that the ability of external constituencies to engineer change from outside is limited. In the K-12 sector, parents, school boards, state agency officials and others are involved in the affairs of schools in a way that is unthinkable in higher education. In higher education, administrators—and especially the faculty members—are much more in charge.

In discussing our third goal earlier, I noted that faculty members owe allegiance not only to their colleges and universities, but to their scholarly communities as well. Faculty members' loyalties to their specialized guilds varies considerably across the sectors. Within community colleges, only a small portion of the faculty, for example, participate in the annual meetings of the scholarly and professional societies. But within research universities, the ties to the relevant scholarly community are often stronger than the ties to the university.

This means that our strategies for change must include the scholarly/professional communities as well as the colleges and universities. In the health field, the medical profession grew up outside the institutions we call hospitals, and thus we appreciate the difference between changing hospitals and changing the medical profession. But in higher education, the academic profession grew up inside the university. We think too quickly sometimes about changing universities, forgetting that the faculty members are not only employees of the university, but are mathematicians, geologists and economists as well. We need to pursue both institution- and profession-based strategies of change. In practical terms, this points to the importance of working at the departmental level. The twin paths of the faculty member as scholar and professor come together at the crossroads of the academic department. Thus, in a number of our projects, particular academic departments will be engaged in leading the way.

Finally, the relative autonomy and power of the faculty mean that in addition to paying attention to changing incentives from the outside, we must also appeal to the intrinsic desires of the faculty to do good work. We typically think and talk about change in managerial language, as if changing organizational structures and incentives is all there is to it. But change also comes about through cultural movements powered by new feelings and fresh ideas. When courageous individuals take stands and find that others believe as they do, new movements are born. The growing number of faculty who are becoming interested in issues of teaching and student learning as scholarly work, for example, represents a budding movement in higher education.

These, then, are the characteristics of higher education that we will have in mind as we ponder how to translate our three main goals into precise grantmaking strategies. Over the next six months, I will be working with Education program staff on this task of translation. Let me say a word about how this process will unfold.

I believe that this white paper can itself become a useful vehicle for testing the merits of the proposed agenda and for strategizing about how to enact it into practice. So I propose to conduct several seminars around the paper. Several colleagues—prominent leaders in higher education—have also volunteered to host discussions on our behalf.

I propose to tackle each of the objectives of Goal I roughly in the order I have presented them. I am already working on the merits and feasibility of establishing a summer institute around the agenda of taking responsibility for student learning. This fall, I propose to put together a working group that can explore how best to promote pedagogies of engaged learning. If the idea of designing an open grant competition holds up, then I will ask this working group to help develop guidelines for this competition. Also this fall, I propose to convene a working group around the issues of learning and technology that I have identified.

I propose to tackle the objective of strengthening incentives in the larger system with a different approach. Here the task is to design individual projects that promise to make a significant difference. I assume that the design process itself for a single project might take six to nine months. I have already taken steps to enlist the services of an outside consultant to work with staff on this task.

As to Goal II, the horses are already off and running. At its June meeting, the board approved a grant to the University of Maryland, part of which will underwrite planning by system chancellors and their K-12 counterparts about how to align university admissions policies with the school reform agenda. This project, which builds on a number of the Trusts' prior initiatives, augmented by several other planning contracts we intend to initiate, is already laying the groundwork for a next-generation set of projects.

As to Goal III, scholar-professors for the 21st century, I see our three lines of work unfolding on different schedules. The first objective, redefining the Ph.D., is by far the most difficult to achieve. The faculty members who are key to change are as entrenched as a constituency can be, and the character of the Ph.D. is not even yet an "issue." On the other hand, I am heartened by the fact that Lee Shulman, the new president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, intends to take this issue on as one of his first major initiatives. The Carnegie Foundation, working with the National Academy of Sciences and other groups, may create openings for us to play a role. In short, how we proceed will depend on whether we can form a partnership with important allies.

The objective of encouraging faculty career pathways and reward systems that match the diverse missions of our institutions, and the objective of treating teaching as scholarly work are a different matter. Issues such as tenure and post-tenure review, and elevation of the status of teaching are front-burner concerns at many institutions. I'm personally familiar with much of the thinking, experimentation and prototype development that has been going on in both areas and see significant opportunities for scaling up this work to a new level of importance. Accordingly, I propose to bring major projects in these areas to the attention of the board quite soon.

Appendix I:

Summary of Goals and Objectives in 1997 White Paper

Goal I:

New Aspirations for Undergraduate Education

Objective 1:

To extend the teaching mission of colleges and universities from providing instruction to taking responsibility for producing student learning; and to help institutions to carry out this vision, especially in the area of awarding degrees for performance rather than the accumulation of credit hours.

Objective 2:

To enhance effectiveness by encouraging the thoughtful adoption of pedagogies of engagement such as problem-based and service learning.

Objective 3:

To encourage uses of technology that both enhance learning and reduce instructional costs.

Objective 4:

To strengthen the incentives for continuous quality improvement by making contributions to student learning a more central factor in the marketplace for students and faculty, the policies of government and the mechanisms for self-regulation.

Goal II:

The Community-Minded Campus: Working with Schools toward High Standards

Objective 1:

To deepen the engagement of colleges and universities in the reform of America's schools.

Objective 2:

To encourage policies that renew the connections between higher education and America's vital needs.

Goal III:

Scholar-Professors for the 21st Century

Objective 1:

To prepare faculty with a broader view of their roles and responsibilities as scholars and professors by redefining the criteria and assessments required for a Ph.D. degree.

Objective 2:

To encourage and design career paths, employment arrangements and criteria for promotion and advancement for faculty that will match the professional lives of faculty to the diverse missions of colleges and universities in the 21st century.

Objective 3:

To encourage the faculty to regard teaching as a form of scholarly work, worthy of serious inquiry and peer review, and thereby foster a national marketplace for excellence in teaching.

Appendix II: Notes on Sources

Chapter I—A Three-Minute History of Higher Education

The colonial college story comes from Frederick Rudolph, The American College and University, New York: Vintage Books, 1962. The story of the university movement draws on John S. Brubacher and Willis Rudy, Higher Education in Transition, New York: Harper and Row, l958; and Laurence R. Veysey, The Emergence of the American University, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, l965. The direct Veysey quote is from pp. 339-340. The direct Peter Drucker quote is from the March 10, l997, issue of Forbes.

Chapter II—The Fall from the Pedestal

The national enrollment projections are from the U.S. Department of Education, "A Back to School Special Report: The Baby Boom Echo," August 1996. The California projections are from the California Higher Education Policy Center, Tidal Wave II, Technical Report #95-6, San Jose, California, September l995. Daniel Yankelovich cited the statistics on public attitudes on college costs in an interview in the AAHE Bulletin, June l993. The data on family income, tuition increases and financial aid spending, and on comparative earnings of high school and college graduates are from Lawrence E. Gladieux, College Opportunities and the Poor, The Center for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education and The College Board, 1996. The state spending data are from S. Gold and S. Ritchie, State Spending Patterns in the l990s, Albany: Center for the Study of the States, 1995.

Chapter III—The Challenge of Costs

The Elfin editorial is in the September 19, l996, issue of U.S. News and World Report. The Time story is in the March 1997 issue. Terry Hartle's response on behalf of the American Council on Education (ACE) and the focus group data on public beliefs about college costs is from the Association of Governing Board publication Trusteeship, July/August l996. The various college and university responses cited are from an American Council on Education publication, ACE Issue Briefs, May l996.

Alan Guskin's challenge appears as a two-part story in the July/August and September/October l994, issues of Change. Bruce Johnstone's thinking appears in a number of informal papers issued under the auspices of the "The Learning Productivity Network," Graduate School of Education, University of Buffalo. The evolution of the course into a precise unit of instruction and the Harvard catalogue citation comes from Martin Haberman, "The Origin of the University Course," Journal of Teacher Education, July/August l984.

For an astute analysis of the mega-universities around the world, see John S. Daniel, Mega-Universities and Knowledge Media, London: Kogan Page Limited, l996. The potential of various technologies to enhance learning is explored in Diana Laurillard, Rethinking University Teaching: A Framework for the Effective Use of Educational Technology, London: Routledge, 1993. The cost issues are explored in A. W. Bates, Technology, Open Learning and Distance Education, London: Routledge, 1995; and Carol Twigg, Academic Productivity: The Case for Instructional Software, Washington, D.C.: Educom, l996.

Chapter IV—The Challenge of Quality

The ACE reports on public attitudes comes from a trilogy of reports prepared by James Harvey and Associates and published by ACE in 1995. The reference to the causes of attrition comes from Vincent Tinto, Leaving College: Rethinking the Causes and Cures of Student Attrition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987. The data on remedial education are from U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Educational Statistics, Remedial Education at Higher Education Institutions in Fall 1995. The data on persistence are from "Towards Inequality," a paper prepared by Paul Barton scheduled for forthcoming publication by the Policy Information Center, Educational Testing Service, Princeton, New Jersey.

The summary statement about 20 years of research is from Ernest Pascarella and Patrick Terenzini, How College Affects Students, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1991, p. 616. The quote from Howard Gardner is from his book entitled, The Unschooled Mind, cited in Grant Wiggins, "Assessing for Excellence," forthcoming from Jossey-Bass. The discussion of assessing for understanding draws heavily from chapter five of Wiggins's book.

In the section on the new literacies, the reference to the new basic skills is from Richard Murnane and Frank Levy, Teaching the New Basic Skills, New York: The Free Press, 1996. The Harvard Business School study was conducted by the External Comparisons Project Team and copyrighted in l993 by the Harvard Business School. The demographic projections that around 2020 minorities will become the majority of those under 18 are from Scott Miller, An American Imperative, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995, p. 23.

Chapter V—The Challenge of Quality II: Inadequate Incentives

The architecture of this chapter and the analysis of a market driven by prestige draws heavily on Derek Bok's annual report to the Harvard Board of Overseers, "Quality of Teaching," reprinted in the Harvard Gazette, March l986. It is also informed by an article in the September/October l994 issue of Change by Gordon Winston titled, "Teaching's Decline." The data on the college ratings is from Patricia McDonough et al., "College Ratings: Who Uses Them and with What Impact," a paper presented at the March l997 meeting of the American Educational Research Association.

My observations on the changing role of state governments draw heavily on the writings of Peter Ewell, especially "Achieving Academic High Performance: The Policy Dimension," National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, l996. My comments on accreditation were informed by a paper titled, "Reinventing Accreditation," presented by Ralph Wolff to the American Association of Higher Education's (AAHE's) l993 National Conference on Higher Education, March 15, l993. My comments on the separation of teaching from scholarship draw on the writings and many speeches of Lee Shulman, starting with "Knowledge and Teaching: Foundations of the New Reform," Harvard Educational Review, February l987.

Chapter VI—The Challenge of Connection

The Washington Post article cited on the two economies appears in the October 14, l996, edition. The Educational Testing Service study of inequality is from Barton, op. cit. The minority attainment data are from Miller, Scott, op. cit., chapter two. The Theodore Cross projection of loss of black attendance from law schools is from the spring 1994 issue of Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.

The views of state legislative chairs of education committees is cited in Sandra Rupert, The Politics of Remedy: State Legislative Views on Higher Education, National Education Association, January l966.

Chapter VII—A Higher Education Agenda for PCT

My comments on taking learning seriously were informed by Robert Barr and John Tagg, "From Teaching to Learning," Change, November/December l995.

My discussion of problem-based learning at McMaster University draws on Victor Neufeld and Howard Barrows, "The 'McMaster Philosophy': An Approach to Medical Education," Journal of Medical Education, November l974. The Abercrombie study of collaborative learning is discussed in M. L. J. Abercrombie, The Anatomy of Judgement: An Investigation into the Processes of Perception and Reasoning. London: Hutchinson, 1960. The RAND study is described in an unpublished report entitled "How Undergraduates Are Affected by Service Participation," Higher Education Research Institute, UCLA, 1996.

My discussion of uses of technology that both enhance learning and reduce costs, and the concentration of student enrollments at Maricopa Community College draws on Carol Twigg, op. cit.

The leadership university presidents gave to schools at the turn of the century is described by Brubacher and Rudy, op. cit. Student aid for service is explored in Frank Newman, Higher Education and the American Resurgence, Princeton: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1985.

My comments and proposals relating to reshaping the professorate draw heavily on unpublished work of Eugene R. Rice, currently director of AAHE's Forum on Faculty Roles and Rewards. A published version of Rice's formulation of scholarly work appears in Ernest Boyer, Scholarship Reconsidered, Princeton: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1993.

My comments and proposals on teaching as a scholarly activity are based on the writings of Lee Shulman and Patricia Hutchings, published by AAHE under the aegis of the AAHE Teaching Initiative.
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