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Redefining Scholarly Work - An Example from Civil Engineering

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The reformulation of the concept of faculty scholarship first proposed by the late Ernest Boyer of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, is gaining ground at a number of institutions. Below is an abstrac t of a report by the American Society of Civil Engineers Task Force on Redefining Scholary Work. My thanks to Professor James T.P. Yao, of Texas A&M University, and a member of the task force, for this information, which clearly has applications to o ther science and engineering disciplines. A copy of the complete report can be found at: 


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The Second Draft Report 


Report of the American Society of Civil Engineers Task Force on Redefining Scholarly Work 


The well known Carnegie Foundation book Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate by Ernest Boyer published in 1990 began the call for a redefinition of scholarship throughout the academic world. Boyer propo sed a new paradigm of scholarship with multiple interlocking elements [discovery research, research integration, research application, and the scholarship of teaching]. Numerous scholarly associations took the next step in the form of a major publication by the American Association of Higher Education in 1995. The ASCE Task Force report is in response to the Syracuse University initiatives led by its Center for Instructional Development. The Syracuse University initiatives launched a sweeping examination of the faculty rewards system as it related to institutional mission. This report summarizes the conclusions and recommendations of the ASCE task force to redefine scholarly work for Civil Engineering faculty. 

Based on surveys performed by the task force, it became clear that a narrow definition of scholarship in Civil Engineering is impractical to achieve because of varied institutional missions. The Task Force proposed a "WHEEL " model which provides complete flexibility through interfaces that allow for scholarly work to be integrated into research, teaching, and service and professional development activities. Models are needed to link the triumvirate of scholarship, teaching, service and professional development with the equally important values of Excellence, Integrity, Leadership and Ethics. Scholarship, for example, is not enough; it is the pursuit of Excellence that drives institutions and faculty alike. One fundamental c urrent objective is to foster the creation of an environment in which faculty are encouraged to produce their very best. It is the responsibility of leading Civil Engineering educators to provide a useful contemporary guide for faculty reward and recognit ion. In turn, institutions need to place less emphasis upon sterile definitions and more upon the creation of a means of rewarding substantive faculty achievements. 

The major issues raised today in evaluating faculty scholarly contributions includes the need to have a clear awareness of the following: 

* institutional mission, 
* departmental mission and resources; 
* size of the institution; 
* accreditation criteria, 
* professional organizations, 
* collective bargaining, 
* classification of the institution, 
* disciplinary objectives, 
* new technologies, and 
* research. 

The main objective of the present ASCE Task Force, which commenced its work in May, 1997, was to raise fundamental issues for Civil Engineering educators by offering a broader definition and understanding of the professiona l work of the Civil Engineering faculty.