S.4 – Scholarly Teaching


Session 4: Conceptualizing Scholarly Teaching

“Teachers must not only be capable of defining for students the accepted truths in a domain. They must also be able to explain why a particular proposition is deemed warranted, why it is worth knowing, and how it relates to other propositions, both within the discipline and without, both in theory and in practice.”

Lee Shulman (1986) “Those Who Understand: Knowledge Growth in Teaching.” p. 9, 14.

What do to the best teachers do? “Fundamentally, they [are] learners, constantly trying to improve their own efforts to foster students’ development, and never completely satisfied with what they had already achieved.”

Ken Bain. (2004). What the Best College Teachers Do. p. 20.

Session Overview

How do I know what students learned?  How do I determine if a particular activity, routine, discussion, assignment, lecture, etc. helped students learn more deeply? What is best practice or evidence-based practice? How and with whom might I share my experiences? To what extent do I take an intuitive approach to teaching and learning versus a more scholarly approach? These questions represent a selection of central points of inquiry informing what scholarly teaching is and can do.

A scholarly approach to teaching improves student learning because such an orientation influences the way instructors think about students and the learning opportunities we craft. A scholarly approach to teaching presupposes an informed view of learning and learning. It moves beyond tradition, beyond routine, beyond intuition. It is a way of thinking about teaching and learning that is based on disciplined intellectual work and pedagogically sound practice. Hutchings and Shulman (1999) define scholarly teaching as:

“…teaching that entails certain practices of classroom assessment and evidence gathering; teaching that is informed not only by the latest ideas in the field but by current ideas about teaching generally and specifically in the field; and teaching that invites peer collaboration and review.” (p. 13).

As we seek expertise in our respective disciplines, we gain skills and embody dispositions that mark the scholarly mind and scholarly practice. When required to teach, we must work to translate these skills and dispositions to the practice of teaching so that we can systematically work toward the cultivation of student thinking.

This session builds off of the previous session that argues for the importance of taking a scholarly approach to teaching and learning. We will explore, in depth, that which is implied in taking a scholarly approach to teaching and learning. In doing so, we will engage in activities and thinking routines that model scholarly teaching. One important goal is to take what we have come to do well implicitly, and make it explicit for examination and reproduction as guides for helping students come to learn deeply and skillfully.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this session you should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a developed understanding of the concept of scholarly teaching through definition, connection to related concepts, exemplification, and illustration.
  • Identify fundamental characteristics of scholarly teaching.
  • Make explicit, formative links between key concepts discussed in this session with the “close reading” book selections outlined in the syllabus.

Key Questions

  • What does it mean to take a scholarly approach to teaching and learning?
  • Who is the teacher-scholar, and what does s/he do?
  • What resources are available to deepen our understanding of scholarly teaching and its implications for further development (e.g. SoTL)?


1)    Assessment of preconceptions and prior knowledge of that which constitutes scholarly teaching and its value as an intellectual discourse.

2)    Structured brainstorm exploring the concept of scholarly teaching.

3)    Individual, small group, and whole class activities that exemplify scholarly approaches to teaching drawn from the readings and that target multiple learning modalities.

4)    Individual written session synthesis.

Illustrations for PCK



1) Statement of teaching (Draft 1)

2) Continued reading of selected book

3) Continue to make regular and substantive posts to your learning journal about what you are learning, along with questions, commentary and critique. Spend time reading the blog posts of other students in our class and participate in conversation by linking to their posts and providing comments on their entries.

Suggested Readings

Kuh, GD, Chen, D. & Laird, FN. (Fall 2007). “Why Teacher-Scholars Matter: Some Insights from FSSE and NSEE.” Liberal Education. (Link to article)