Faculty Life: Scholarly Teaching

This section of the community commons addresses issues and activities related to teaching, one of three primary areas of engagement for higher education faculty. Expectations for Scholarly Teaching vary depending upon the higher education setting, including the type of institution, the discipline, and the policies and practices of a particular campus and department.  New faculty members should create their own teaching style, and there are many resources to draw upon to support that development. 

Each of the campuses in the CSU system sets an expectation for high quality teaching. The driving force behind the mission of the CSU is an excellent education for every student.  New faculty members are responsible for becoming aware of and implementing the most effective teaching strategies, resources and tools available in their field. 

The suggestions provided in this Scholarly Teaching section do not represent any one point of view, but rather are a composite from a diverse group of faculty ranging from those new to academic life to veterans, from many different socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, working in many different sorts of institutions, and coming from multiple perspectives. These suggestions are intended to begin a dialogue with colleagues, offer questions to ponder, or outline areas to pursue. The purpose is to explore workable strategies and helpful tools that offer success in academic life for those with a passion for teaching. 

Scholarly Teaching will focus on five areas:

One place to look for standards of excellence is the Core Propositions developed by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards as they offer a framework for reflecting on accomplished teaching. We might also look to the practice of award winning faculty at excellent universities.  Finally new faculty members should look to the learning of their own students, and the interplay of teaching strategies with student learning outcomes. Each of these is explored in the characteristics of accomplished teaching section.

Course planning may be the most critical element of good teaching.  Every teaching decision instructors make arises from their beliefs about how students learn, and it is therefore helpful to be aware of and articulate a teaching philosophy.  Student learning outcomes enable faculty to design their courses backward by asking themselves what they want students to know and be able to do by the end of a course. The result is a clear and focused course syllabus that outlines expectations and serves as a contract between faculty and students. Elements of planning, ways to craft learning outcomes, and examples of syllabi in a number of disciplines are offered in this section.

Instruction is often imagined at the university level to consist of standing behind a podium and lecturing, but there are dozens of teaching strategies that outstanding faculty employ. As you think about how to teach a particular concept, take time to explore and select appropriate strategies, locate existing lesson materials, craft assignments that incorporate technology, link students to the community, and engage students with the course content.  Numerous teaching strategies are explored in the instruction section.

Assessments come in many shapes and sizes, but the goal is to determine if students have reached the intended learning outcomes. Two primary types of assessment include formative, which provides feedback to support student learning during a unit of instruction, and summative, which serves as an end point to a unit of instruction. Different disciplines or types of knowledge may be most effectively evaluated by different types of assessment. In this section the rationale for using a particular assessment or array of assessments is explored, along with examples of various assessments.

In-class instruction is one of the most time consuming activities for new faculty, but never underestimate the importance of one-on-one advising and mentoring of students outside of class.  Formal office hours and other less formal outside of classroom interactions are times for students to ask questions, obtain clarification, ask for advice, or explore further study of an interesting topic.  The advising and mentoring section explores numerous ways to make effective use of one-on-one or small group time with students, and considers the impact the time has on student learning, motivation, and future student learning goals.

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Resources for
Scholarly Teaching

The Journal of Excellence in College Teaching
Miami University
Focused on innovative pedagogies and insights on teaching.

Innovative Higher Education
Institute of Higher Education,
University of Georgia
Describes innovators who use diverse methods and forms of scholarship, striking a balance between practice and theory.

The Teaching Professor Blog
This blog is dedicated to issues of interest to professors with a passion for teaching.

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS)
History and details of services offered by NBPTS.

What the Best College Teachers Do
Bain, K. (2004). Harvard University Press.

The Joy of Teaching:
A Practical Guide for New College Instructors

Filene, P. (2005). The University of North Carolina Press.

Creating Significant Learning Experiences
Fink, L.D. (2003). Jossey-Bass.

The Course Syllabus:
A Learning Centered Approach, 2nd Ed.

Grunert O’Brien, J. et.al. (2008). Jossey-Bass.

Successful Beginnings for College Teaching
McGlynn, A.P. (2001). Madison, WI: Atwood Publishing.

McKeachie’s Teaching Tips
Strategies, Research and Theory for College and University Teachers

McKeachie, W. J. & Svinicki, M. (2006). Houghton Mifflin Company.

Courageous Conversations About Race:
A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools

Singleton, G.E. (2006). Corwin Press, Inc.