Faculty Handbook

Appendix II: The Core of Academe: Teaching, Scholarly Activity, and Service


Since the earliest days of the academy, faculty members at institutions of higher education have been engaged in those activities intimately associated with teaching, scholarly activity, and service. Not always known by these labels, these three functions have constituted the idea of a university. Although most institutions today use teaching, scholarly activity, and service as the foundation upon which their programs are built, few definitions exist--by concept of example--of these core elements of the professorate.

Teaching: Program Planning, Instruction, Evaluation, and Advisement

Although a college or university may acknowledge its commitment as a teaching institution, this does not mean that it does not also have the obligation to engage in scholarly activity and public service. It does, however, set the teaching\learning process as an institutional priority. Teaching has four components: academic program planning and development, instruction, evaluation, and student academic advisement. The orientation of these elements facilitates the acquisition of knowledge and skills and enhances behavioral change.

Teaching is the critical ingredient that provides the mechanism by which two major purposes of the institution are achieved. Education should be concerned with experiences which strengthen human relationships, forge common bonds, and enhance the quality of life. Its emphasis should concern areas of our interrelatedness as members of the human community. Education should also develop within students the capacity for further learning in a particular discipline, concentrating on the knowledge and skills unique to the discipline and of value to graduates in the world of vocation. These two purposes then--one emphasizing the interrelatedness of knowledge and the other focusing on the uniqueness of knowledge--provide a framework within which the four components of teaching can function.

Professors may teach, but students learn. Further, students are quite capable of learning on their own. Given adequate resources from which to learn, the human organism is quite capable of self-instruction. The ability to learn independently, after all, is a valued quality of the professorate. Many educators think that the most significant single outcome of a university education is that students become lifelong learners when they leave the tutelage of the institution. The task of the professor, then, is to arrange the contingencies of teaching for learning to be most efficient and effective. A brief description of each of the four components of teaching follows.

  • Academic program planning and development consists of analyzing the educational goals defined by a particular field of study. These goals are then reduced to objectives which define the scope and sequence of the subject content and learning experiences to be made available to the student. The specification of the scope and sequence of content must recognize the standard parameters of the instructional system in which the academic program is to function (124 semester hours' credit, number and credentials of the faculty, facilities available, etc.). The competencies of students entering the program should be specified and opportunities to achieve additional necessary competencies identified. The task of academic program planning and development is to specify the desired results of the educational process and the most effective and efficient methods to achieve those results.
  • Instruction refers to the process of using resources to achieve an identified educational objective. It is a process with internal order, sequence, and purpose. It is not a random encounter. Knowing what is to be achieved by the student, as well as the student's initial competencies, the professor identifies the knowledge and skills to be taught, the learning experiences to be provided, instructional media to be used, the instructional strategies to be employed, and the time and facility resources required. All these are "arranged" in the proper order and time sequence to facilitate the learning process of the student. It is possible to categorize instructional methods available to faculty in three broad areas: large and small group instruction, used primarily for the dissemination of knowledge; laboratory, practicum, and internship sessions, used for skill development; and the tutorial, to provide students the opportunity for independent study and faculty for individual guidance (small seminars, reading courses, theses and dissertations, etc.).
  • Evaluation spans academic program planning and development, instruction, and advising. It provides an objection verification that the academic plan (component one) was carried out (component two), and that a legitimate learning experience occurred. Evaluation is used initially to determine the needs of students, as well as their initial level of competency. During instruction, evaluation is utilized to provide guidance to students for their learning experiences, as well as data to the professor to evaluate the instructional process. Evaluation is again employed at the termination of instruction to assess the attainment of the adequacy of instruction. Evaluation may also be used to proved performance data concerning instructional strategies, various forms of instructional media, relevance of the content of the course, and the adequacy of the facilities used in instruction. Evaluation meets two basic needs of teaching: (a) it provides information about the student and (b) it provides information concerning instruction.
  • Academic advising goes beyond reviewing requirements for graduation, assisting students in madding out a schedule, or signing a class card. It is a vehicle by which the student may develop as an independent thinker and learner. The goal of academic advisement is to assist the student in the exploration of the student's life/career goals and the specification of an educational plan to reach those goals. It also includes monitoring the student's progress toward implementing that plan, providing advice and an interpretation of appropriate and inappropriate learning behaviors during the instructional sequence, and evaluating of the learning experience at the termination of the instructional process. Academic advisement is an active process of sharing between the faculty member and the student concerning any relevant variable associated with the student's academic program. The goal of academic advisement is to assist the student in obtaining as much benefit from the educational experience as possible.

There are a multitude of activities concerned with teaching. Some of those representative are noted below.

Those provided are meant to serve as examples only and should not be perceived as the total universe of teaching activities. The professor is engaging in academic program planning and development, instruction, evaluation, and academic advising when he or she:

  • demonstrates teaching competence in a chosen content area and guides and inspires students;
  • integrates current scholarly activities within a given discipline into the overall scope of instructional content;
  • holds membership on graduate student committees and directs theses and special investigations;
  • teaches honors courses and provides for individualized instruction where required;
  • contributes to course and curriculum development and prepares and uses instructional media;
  • experiments with instructional methods and techniques;
  • attends conferences, conventions and meetings relevant to teaching in the chosen discipline;
  • demonstrates an impact on students, both objectively and subjectively;
  • participates in the academic governance of the academic unit to which assigned;
  • contributes to the development of both library and other learning resources relevant to content area of teaching;
  • seeks opportunities to interact with colleagues to improve instruction;
  • is available to the academic community to consult with students concerning learning difficulties and with colleagues concerning academic program issues;
  • periodically reviews and revises course materials including textbooks, syllabi, evaluation instruments and instructional media;
  • maintains academic integrity and the academic standards of the institution;
  • provides students with objectives relevant to the course taught, appropriate references, information about the topics to be covered, and criteria for performance;
  • provides for student evaluation of the course and the instructor and uses the results of such evaluation to revise course and methods of instruction;
  • makes available opportunities for students to learn of the primary sources of information associated with a particular discipline or area of study;
  • sponsors field trips, outside resource instructors, and student research projects;
  • assists students in making rational and relevant academic decisions as an academic adviser;
  • observes academic regulations as legislated by the faculty senate and instructional "good practices" as recognized by the profession.

Scholarly Activity: Research, Scholarship, and Creative Endeavor

Although a university may be committed to the idea of being a "teaching institution," that concept cannot be fulfilled apart from a similar commitment to scholarly activity. Scholarly activity has three components--research, scholarship, and creative endeavor--whose principal foci are oriented toward the academic program of the university and are carried out by individual faculty.

These activities are vital to the university and to its academic program and have an impact on the student as a learner. They are a very real part of the instructional process. In progress through undergraduate studies, the student is constantly moving toward more and more independent learning and learns that research and creative endeavor are necessary elements in the learning process. Students must have models of ongoing scholarly activity in which they can see the possibilities for their own creative talents. Faculty engaged in scholarly activity provide those models. In this sense, scholarly activity is an integral part of teaching.

Research, creative endeavor, and scholarship are also intimately involved in the professional development of individual faculty members. Through the process of sharing the outcomes of professional efforts with colleagues both on and off the campus, validation of progress in developing as a scholar in a discipline is received. Reviewing and critiquing the work of others provides opportunities for faculty to test ideas and concepts developed in their own work. Often, sharing scholarly activity with colleagues on the campus functions as a stimulus to fellow faculty. Since professional development is a lifelong task, sustained effort in this area of involvement is needed.

A detailed description of the three components of scholarly activity follows:

  • Research for the purposes of this discussion will be categorized as discipline, applied, and pedagogical. The first orients toward new knowledge, the second toward the utilization of that new knowledge, and the third toward methods of teaching and learning. Discipline research is that activity which is carried out with the deliberate intent of extending the frontiers of knowledge in a particular academic discipline. Little attention is given to the applicability or practical use of possible discoveries. Applied research is activity that is carried out with the deliberate intent of solving a specific problem in an immediate time frame. The focus of the activity is the applicability of the research to a well-defined, real-life need. Pedagogical research is activity which explores the merits of one educational approach to instruction over another approach, under what conditions students learn best, how educational material may be organized to enhance the learning process, investigations of the degree to which curricula meet the requirements they have been designed to meet, etc. The sharing of the results of research, as outlined later in this paper, is an integral part of the research process. The responsibility to communicate the results of research to assist colleagues, as well as to validate findings, is the task of the faculty member. The responsibility to support and facilitate research efforts on the part of the faculty is the task of the academic administrator.
  • Scholarship is an area of scholarly activity that refers to updating and extending an area of study within the professional life of the faculty member. University professors must be constantly alert to new and innovative directions in their disciplines if their leadership in the classroom is to be truly effective. It is this kind of activity that frequently spells the difference between professors who are inspiring and creative in the role as teacher and those who only continue to use notes on aging yellow pages. Faculty engaged in scholarship are those who take advantage of the opportunities to remain viable and active in their particular areas of specialty. The development and sharing of ideas; the conception and implementation of new and creative instructional materials; participation in conferences, conventions, workshops, professional meetings; and the publication of articles and monographs in areas other than research are samples of such activities.
  • Creative endeavor refers to the result of the production of creative work by faculty. Creative endeavor is most easily identified when associated with the performing arts (theater, music, dance) and the fine arts (two- and three-dimensional art, writing). It is also most appropriate to apply it in the area of applied arts (architecture, graphics and printing, design, decorating). Creative endeavor involves not only the creation of a tangible product, but the subjection of that creative piece to judgment by public and peers through the vehicle of performance, show, publication, display, or exhibit. There is some overlap area of scholarships. For example, an article dealing with the impact of carbon steel by its inventor could be classified as creative endeavor.

Some activities indicative of scholarly activity follow. Those provided are meant to serve as examples only. They should not be perceived as the total universe of scholarly activities.

  • produces, exhibits, or performs creative works;
  • delivers invited lectures, papers, speeches, or presentations at colleges or universities, professional meetings, conventions, and conferences;
  • submits products of scholarship to colleagues for evaluation and critique;
  • collaborates with colleagues on the local and other campuses in activities oriented toward making a contribution toward the advancement of knowledge, methodology, or development of a discipline;
  • applies for and receives grants and awards;
  • obtains recognition regionally, nationally, or internationally for recent, as well as past, contributions to a particular field of study by a variety of means (requests for reprints, invitations to read papers, citations of research, invitations to exhibit, etc.);
  • participates in institutes, short courses, seminars, and workshops that are related to the faculty member's discipline;
  • publishes the results of research, scholarship, and creative endeavor through vehicles such as monographs, textbooks, papers, abstracts, book reviews, poems, plays, musical compositions, etc:
  • holds membership in professional societies relevant to a specific discipline;
  • obtains copyrights or patents on works produced;
  • engages in specific self-study or a professional growth plan to enhance professional competency;
  • edits papers for journal publication, grant proposals for awards, chapters for books, or other scholarly activity of like nature.

Service: Institutional, Professional, and Community

An institution should strive, through its faculty and staff, to provide excellent teaching, quality scholarships, and meaningful service. Service activities have the potential to make positive contributions to both scholarly activity and teaching and have been a traditional part of all academic communities. This service manifests itself in three areas: institutional service, professional service, and service to the community.

It is recognized that faculty members possess talents and interests in a variety of fields and are capable of rendering service in areas quite unrelated to their discipline, as well as those that are very closely related. Although they should not be discouraged from providing service in any field in which they have an interest, it should be understood that faculty activities are, as a general rule, considered to be valid university service only when they are performed using competencies relevant to the faculty member's role and/or area of specialization at the university. Services provided through an avocational interest or associated with some special talent of skill not related to one's professional competence or assignment will not be considered valid university service unless the performance of the service is in some manner related to one's university appointment. For example, if a faculty member whose discipline is psychology sings in the community chorale, such service would not be considered a university-contributed community service. On the other hand, if that faculty member led group marriage counseling sessions for the YMCA, such service would be a legitimate contribution of the university to the community. Should a member of the psychology faculty be invited to provide a service (one not related to that discipline) because of the fact that the individual is affiliated with the university, such service would also be considered a university-contributed service. Faculty members are encouraged to pursue any opportunity to participate in the improvement of the quality of life in the community as citizens of that community and as examples of good citizenship. Service activities have the potential of making significant contributions to teaching, scholarly activity, and the quality of life in the academic and lay community. The setting of academic policies and regulations, guiding of curriculum development, and contributing to the acquisition and use of library media and instructional technology are intimately related to the teaching function of the faculty member and the university. Consulting, speaking to groups external to the academy, planning professional development opportunities, and serving in professional societies contribute more than tangentially to one's scholarly activity. Representing the university at various community functions, serving on community committees, providing training to lay groups, and giving of one's expertise in accomplishing community tasks influence positively the quality of life in the community as well as the university.

A detailed description of the three components of service follows.

  • Institutional service consists of serving departmental, school, and university standing and ad hoc committees. In addition, teaching in continuing education credit and non-credit programs both on and off campus are also considered in the service category as are activities associated with completing special studies and projects for the university (e.g., studying the economic impact on the region, surveying the adequacy of academic advising in a particular academic unit, etc.).
  • Professional service consists of serving in some official capacity (officer, committee member, discussant, reviewer, session chairperson, editor, etc.) the needs of a professional society or organization related to some degree to the discipline area of expertise of the faculty member. Professional service should also be acknowledged for establishing consulting relationships with government, business, or industry, whether that service receives compensation or not. The key here is that the faculty member is recognized as having an expertise that has been sought. If the service performed is considered an integral part of the faculty member's assignment (such as "on loan," exchange or various released time arrangements), then it should also be evaluated in the most relevant category (e.g., administering a workshop for the Environmental Protection Agency would be teaching, performing research for pecan growers in Northeast Oklahoma would be scholarly activity, developing a computer program for a small business would be service). Relevance to the faculty member's area of expertise still remains the overriding factor.
  • Community service literally includes that remainder of the myriad of activities that faculty perform for the local and regional community in which they live that are related to university expertise or affiliation.

Serving on various city, country, state, and regional (or federal) committees in a wide variety of capacities are categorized in this particular area. Non-governmental and not-for-profit agencies and organizations are also included here. It must be remembered that the categorization of service activities in many cases will be arbitrary and the degree of accuracy with which one categorizes service is not precise. The critical task is, first to, do the service, and second, categorize that service. The only reason that these classifications are presented is to provide some structure that will enable faculty and academic administrators to define relevant service activities, not to place them compulsively into a variety of categories.

Examples of institutional service, professional service, and service to the community may take the form of any of the sample activities given below:

  • provides academic and career counseling and advisement to students on a regular basis;
  • participates in non-credit continuing education programs both on and off campus;
  • plans and leads non-credit workshops, institutes, discussion groups;
  • functions as an officer of local, regional, national, or international professional organizations;
  • serves on departmental, school, and university committees;
  • assumes a variety of administrative responsibilities relating to both the academic and support services of the university community;
  • conducts various institutional studies;
  • contributes services to the community that are relevant to the faculty member's role at the university;
  • consults as requested with government, business, and industry to provide a variety of applications of the faculty member's expertise;
  • participates in sponsoring activities of various student clubs, societies, organizations.

Institutional Purpose and the Core of Academe

Cardinal Newman in The Idea of a University noted that a "university ... aims at raising the intellectual tone of society at cultivating the public mind, at purifying the national taste, at supplying pure principles to popular enthusiasm and fixed aims to popular aspirations, at giving enlargement and sobriety to the ideas of the age, at facilitating the exercise of political power, and refining the intercourse of private life."

The contemporary university must engage in all the activities discussed and others as well. Through program planning, instruction, evaluation, and advisement--buttressed by research, scholarship, and creative endeavor--institutional, professional, and community service, a higher education institution merits the label of "university."

The university, through teaching, scholarly activity, and service, strives to transcend the limitations of ignorance, to probe the analogy that is life and the perceptions of truth that reside in the reality of existence.

James E. Gilbert, president, East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, and the staff at Pittsburgh State University (KS) originated this statement.