From → Undergraduate Education
Like all colleges and department on campus, the College of Visual and Performing Arts at IPFW is in the process of establishing criteria and expectations for faculty research release (or “reassignment” in IPFW parlance). I offer the following comments and suggestions not to be prescriptive, but to elicit the views of others so that our departments can develop good policies.
The teaching workload for IPFW faculty is 12 units per semester, with a 25% release given for research or creative activity. This is called Option 1. However, IPFW allows some faculty members, who have already been granted tenure, the option to have a workload that comprises 100% teaching and thereby have fewer obligations to research or creativity. That is Option 2. So the first question is, what constitutes a level of research and creative activity to justify the 25% reassignment for research and what is the criteria for a 100% teaching load for tenured faculty?
The most obvious way to look at this is that whatever level of research and creative activity a faculty member met in order to be awarded tenure and promotion, assuming they went up on that basis, should be the level expected of them after tenure. That’s a pretty clean way of figuring it out, but not perhaps the only criteria for granting reassignment. Some faculty members, upon be granted tenure, may choose to undertake research that requires a longer timeline: publish a book every few years for example, rather than two articles a year. But more interesting to me, for a campus that has recently been granted Community Engagement status by the Carnegie commission, is the notion of shifting one’s research or creative activity to a more applied regional focus, to the Scholarship of Engagement. For faculty in our college this may mean that someone who had maintained a national exhibition or performance schedule as a visual or performing artist prior to being tenured, may instead apply their expertise to running a local gallery for emerging regional artists, developing community theatre projects that dramatize social issues, or working at providing “store front” music lessons in underserved areas of the city – all in attempt to apply their teaching or creative skills in service to the community. This may or may not be considered research or creative activity, but for those departments that believe it is, then release time can be considered. It certainly takes a faculty member’s time, and it certainly fulfills the mission of our university.
When thinking in terms of community engaged research and creativity, impact becomes the determining and important factor, I believe. Are you making a difference? Is your research and creative activity providing something to your community that it might not otherwise have? The issue, however, arises when community activities are undertaken at a time when a professor is still at the associate level, for these efforts may not rise to a level of research and creative activity that are the minimal requirement for promotion to full professor. I find the idea of applied research compelling, but when articulated in terms of creative activity, may mean participating in activities that would not be commensurate with promotion unless clearly defined as part of the faculty reward structure.
The second issue regards the teaching part of a faculty member’s load. I am concerned about the view that holds Option 2, or a 100% teaching load, as a form of banishment, as in; “You’re not productive enough in your research (or your service) so you have to teach full-time instead.” One colleague warns us to be mindful of having a policy that “tells faculty they will be punished by having something taken away from them if they cannot demonstrate productivity, resulting in the ultimate humiliation: having to teach another class.” This faculty member makes a further point that, in a university like ours where teaching really matters, we should have policies that “reward people who teach four classes, or else find ways for people to be effective in other university functions when they are not effective in research/creative endeavor or teaching, and not treat teaching as a punitive outcome when someone is not performing at an adequate level in some other area.” I would add that faculty should show a record as effective and innovative teachers – and a commitment to remain so – before we give them a 100% teaching load.
Option 2 has always been a sore point with me. On the one hand, if the person is really simply resting on their laurels, then they are not doing their job. Are they even effective teachers? On the other hand, the Scholarship of teaching and learning is real scholarship. That does not mean simply tinkering, nor does it mean changing the book, but true concern for innovating how you teach so that the students LEARN.
Research should have many facets. However, one of the prime reasons that faculty should be involved in research is the students. Involving students in research is a critical mission. VPA does this all the time, the students must create – but perhaps the model is a little different than in the other colleges. There is the personal achievement in research but there should ALWAYS be a component involving the students. Otherwise, I am not certain there is a huge value in the research.
Also, tenured faculty have tenure for the very reason that they have the ability to pursue a long term project or projects. That they can pursue higher risk projects. Someone who produces valid research and tinkers with it all the time doing small changes knowing that this is publishable, is not involved in risk taking or breaking the bounds of current methodology, or even being “creative.” Tenure exists so that we can do something that can change all. But that takes risk, tenure reduces that risk. I believe we have to keep that in mind.
In your first paragraph, are you saying that we should not have Option 2 at all?
Your comments about VPA are correct. Our faculty engage students all the time in rehearsals, ensembles, etc. This teaching/research is worked into the instructor’s course load.
Thanks, Chuck, for telling me about Option 1 and Option 2 (last Friday?). Would additional release time be the punishment for ineffective teaching? IPFW’s mission states that it “supports excellemce in teaching and learning”–a phrase that precedes “advance and share knowledge”. Our vision -begins- by saying that our university will be known for its regional impact and “the excellence, value, and accessibiity of its academic programs; an exceptional environment for teaching, learning, and student acheivement”; and so on. How do we accomplish our mission and achieve our vision if our reward system frames full time teaching as an activity of lesser value than research. Service (of all types) and community engagement are yet other types of faculty work that are vital to IPFW’s mission and vision, but for which faculty receive insufficient incentive or support, and in fact, are discouraged from doing while on the tenure track.
I apologize for the typos. Here’s my post, corrected.
IPFW’s mission states that it “supports excellence in teaching and learning”–a phrase that precedes “advance and share knowledge”. Our vision -begins- by saying that our university will be known for its regional impact and “the excellence, value, and accessibility of its academic programs; an exceptional environment for teaching, learning, and student achievement”; and so on. How do we accomplish our mission and achieve our vision if our reward system frames full time teaching as an activity of lesser value than research. Service (of all types) and community engagement are yet other types of faculty work that are vital to IPFW’s mission and vision, but for which faculty receive insufficient incentive or support, and in fact, are discouraged from doing while on the tenure track.
The subject of faculty workload presupposes a model for faculty responsibilities or priorities. The traditional model is that of 3 dimensions: Research, Teaching, and Service. Once this model is adopted, This tripartite division or faculty responsibilities immediately conditions and constrains all discussions of faculty workload. Further, it is, I suggest, the origin of many of the knotty problems surrounding Promotion and Tenure, Service Learning and Community Engagement, and, on this campus, the diction between Option 1 and Option 2 faculty.
In 1989, Ernest Boyer, then President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, proposed a new set of priorities for the Professoriate. Writing in Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate, Boyer suggested that university and college faculty are fundamentally charged to be Scholars and that scholarship possesses 4 dimensions: Scholarship of Discovery, Scholarship of Integration, Scholarship of Application, and Scholarship of Teaching. The Scholarship of Discovery corresponds to the conventional notion of Research: the creation and dissemination of new knowledge. The Scholarship of Integration is the work of creatively combining ideas from multiple disciplines to produce something entirely new. The Scholarship of Application addresses the issue of engagement: how can the knowledge of a scholar be consequentially applied to problems faced by individuals and institutions in our society. This dimension of scholarship is, in Boyer’s view, the proper meaning of Service. The usual interpretation of service as the ancillary work done by faculty on the multitude of committees and task forces is simply “being a good citizen”. Finally, the scholarship of teaching demands a rigorous and reflective approach to the engagement of multiple intellects. Aristotle noted that “Teaching is the highest form of understanding.” Both students and faculty are active learners engaging a discipline in all its immense variety. Inspired teaching ignites the flame of scholarship; reflective teaching kindles that flame, fanning it into an intense bonfire for both students and other faculty as well.
I suggest that the Boyer model opens the way for a new perspective on what we do at IPFW. Certainly the scholarships of discovery and integration challenge our traditional efforts to create and disseminate new knowledge. The scholarship of application opens a multitude of doors in the direction of service learning and civic engagement. It directly addresses the issues raised by Chuck O’Connor. It clearly legitimizes these many activities as a significant part of Academe. Finally, the scholarship of teaching challenges the artificial distinction of Option 1/Option 2. Our Option 2 faculty should be engaged in scholarly teaching; they should have the 25% release time to engage in the scholarship of teaching. Teaching is not a consolation prize, given with an attendant additional burden. Done well, teaching is magnificent scholarship and those who choose Option 2 should both be given the time to pursue that scholarship and be held accountable for their scholarly activity as excellent teachers.
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