May 21st, 2009

This Summer, Don't Forget to Write


It’s been a while since I’ve gently prodded you about pedagogical scholarship. It’s the beginning of the summer and although I know that some of you do teach for all or part of the summer, there are others who don’t teach during the summer or teach a lighter load. Many of us use the summer time to pursue research and other scholarly projects. That’s fine … but some summer (preferably this one), let there be some time for writing on teaching and learning.Teaching Professor Blog

There are many reasons for doing so. First, you have ideas and experiences from which others can learn. Research continues to verify that colleagues are the most important source of ideas and information on teaching—whether we learn from them in face-to-face conversations or we read what they have written.

Second, we need more faculty contributing to practitioner knowledge base. Look how research has expanded the knowledge base in our disciplines. Think of what could happen in the pedagogical realm if more faculty shared what they know about teaching.

Third, what teachers learn (often the hard way) deserves to be preserved and passed on so that others don’t make the same mistakes. And, the act of writing down and preserving what we have discovered and come to believe is a way of valuing what we have learned and thereby valuing what we do.

The benefits of doing pedagogical scholarship outnumber and may well outweigh reasons for not doing it. Pedagogical scholarship provides the opportunity to reflect deeply, thoughtfully, and critically about an aspect of practice. It can provide the opportunity to answer a perplexing question about practice. Writing for publication necessitates a review of what others have written, thereby providing an opportunity for new learning. Pedagogical scholarship can renew and energize teaching that has gotten a bit tired. It reaffirms the importance, relevance, and value of what teachers try to do in the classroom. It can motivate change and encourage risk taking.

No, it’s not as easy to get pedagogical pieces published as it once was, but getting published is a bit of a game. Persistence pays off. And even if the piece is not published, the benefits listed above still accrue.

This blog and the newsletter demonstrate how diverse pedagogical scholarship is. The range of possibilities is enormous. There is room for creativity. You can start with something short, like an article for The Teaching Professor, Faculty Focus, or some other national or local publication.