Book by: O’Meara, K., & Rice, R.E.
Review by: Justine Hernandez Levine
Aresty Research Center for Undergraduates and Dean’s Office
During an era of perceived disconnect between the university and American society, Boyer (1990) challenged us to reframe academic work in terms of four kinds of scholarship: discovery, teaching, integration, and engagement. His 1990 Carnegie report, Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate, sought to reintegrate personal and institutional priorities, to create a more holistic vision of scholarly activity, and to respond to society’s changing educational needs. The report explained that all four aspects of scholarship were interdependent and indispensable; it asked academics to become reflective practitioners, and to make scholarship a way of life, rather than one of its duties.
Like the report it revisits, Faculty Priorities Reconsidered: Rewarding Multiple Forms of Scholarship addresses questions at the heart of contemporary higher education: what role should the creation of knowledge play in higher education? How should we reward differential contributions? Though the book somewhat narrowly considers issues as they relate to the tenure track, it is equally relevant for advising staff and student personnel administrators, who are increasingly expected to “produce scholarship.” Important reading for any advising professional seeking balance between “greater personal/professional fulfillment” and institutional mission (p. 12), Faculty Priorities Reconsidered assesses institutional and national responses to the challenges set forth by Boyer and provides an agenda for reform.
The result of a nationwide AAHE survey of chief academic officers and campus studies of best practices, the study draws on perspectives of leading thinkers and practitioners, providing in-depth case studies of a wide variety of campuses that have attempted to redefine scholarship and reward faculty contributions.
Not surprisingly, though all four aspects of scholarship have been institutionalized, the scholarship of discovery has been most successfully integrated into campus culture. And yet, with the upsurge of collaborative, experiential, and technologically assisted learning models and calls for accountability, the authors find that the scholarship of teaching is on the rise. At small campuses (and perhaps for many academic advisors), the challenge is to promote contributions beyond “effective teaching, advising, and service” (p. 7); at research and comprehensive universities, the challenge is to “give greater legitimacy to the scholarships of teaching, application, and integration, and to challenge the trend toward ever higher research expectations at the expense of other kinds of scholarly work” (p. 8).
The authors identify, through discussion of national trends and the case studies, barriers to change: lack of leadership, overwhelming workloads, resistance to research or teaching models, budget cuts. They suggest best practices to overcome barriers: define scholarship in terms of institutional identity (rather than in terms of research), secure support from leadership, institutionalizing the four forms of scholarship through policy change, allow policies to evolve organically, ensure that stakeholders participate in shaping policy through open communication, provide unambiguous expectations, share resources.
The case studies would be useful to anyone seeking to realign faculty and staff work more closely with institutional mission while creating more effective learning environments. But Faculty Priorities Reconsidered might help academic advisors explore ways in which we can promote the scholarships of teaching, discovery, engagement, and integration in our own profession. As we seek increased professional legitimacy and look for ways to collaborate in the academic enterprise, we, too, redefine scholarship, strengthening our missions and taking a “transformative” approach to change (p. 305).
Boyer, E.L. (1990). Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Faculty Priorities Reconsidered: Rewarding Multiple Forms of Scholarship. (2005). Book by O’Meara, K., & Rice, R.E. Review by Justine Hernandez Levine. Jossey-Bass. 368pp. $36.00. ISBN #0-7879-7920-1.