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Scholarly Reflection About Teaching

Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning

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Is your course like a journey, a parable, a football game, a museum, a romance, a concerto, an Aristotelian tragedy, an obstacle course, one or all or some of the above?


The excerpt below looks at the role of scholarship in the design of


APPROACH (pp5-6), by JUDITH GRUNERT, Center for Instructional

Development, Syracuse University.

Copyright ? 1997 by Anker Publishing Company, Inc. All rights

reserved. Reprinted with permission


Rick Reis

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Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning


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Shulman and Hutchings (1994) suggest that you think about the ways

your course and syllabus represent acts of scholarship. Adopt a

stance of inquiry toward your practice, seeing your ideas and

practices in constant formation and always in need of further

investigation. Before composing the syllabus, engage in scholarly

reflection about your teaching.

Every course we craft is a lens into our fields and our personal

conceptions of those disciplines. Give careful thought to the shape

and content of your course. How does the course begin? Why does it

begin where it does? (What is the thesis of the argument?) What do

you and your students do as the course unfolds? What do you lecture

about or lead discussions around? What are the key assignments or

student evaluations? (What are the main points of the argument? What

are the key bodies of evidence?) How does it end? Why does it end as

it does? (Most scholarly arguments carry the intention to persuade.)

What do you want to persuade your students to believe? Or question?

Or do you want them to develop new appetites or dispositions?

Are there distinctly different ways to organize your course-ways that

reflect quite different perspectives on your discipline or field? Do

you focus on particular topics while other colleagues might make

other choices? Why?

In what ways does your course teach students how scholars work in

your field-the methods, procedures, and values which shape how

knowledge claims are made and adjudicated? How does it open doors to

the critical dialogues and key arguments scholars are engaged in at

the cutting edge of your field?

How does your course connect with other courses in your own or other

fields? To what extent does your course lay a foundation for others

that follow it? Or build on what students have learned in other

courses? Or challenge and contradict what students are learning in

your own or other disciplines? How does your course fit within a

larger conception of curriculum, program, and teaching?

What do you expect students to find particularly fascinating about

your course? Where will they encounter the greatest difficulties of

either understanding or motivation? How does the content of your

course connect to matters your students already understand or have

experienced? Where will it seem most alien? How do you address these

common student responses in your course? How has the course evolved

over time in response to them?

Try playing with some metaphors for characterizing your course and

its place in the larger curriculum or in the broader intellectual and

moral intellectual lives of your students. Is your course like a

journey, a parable, a football game, a museum, a romance, a concerto,

an Aristotelian tragedy, an obstacle course, one or all or some of

the above? How does your metaphor(s) illuminate key aspects of your



Shulman, L., & Hutchings, P. (1994). Excerpt from Peer Review of

Teaching Workshop sponsored by AAHE.

About the Author

Judith Grenert's current research is concerned with how faculty

across disciplines in higher education approach their research. She

is presently at the Syracuse University Center for Instructional

Development where she works with faculty in various disciplines to

improve learning. Grunert's interests center on the ways that

instructors in higher education can help students to become the

agents of their own education. She draws upon her experience as a

member of the School of Arts faculty, College of Visual and

Performing Arts, Syracuse University, and as a Lilly Endowment

Fellow, when she developed curricular and instructional materials

that would help students assume increasing responsibility over

planning, implementing, and evaluating their learning experiences.

Grunert has coordinated and contributed to the design and development

of national educational projects for higher education, government,

and not-for-profit organizations. She exhibits her sculpture and

drawings at museums and galleries.