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Handbook of Operating Procedures

Statement on Scholarship

The following statement outlining the principles of scholarship was developed from excerpts of Dr. Ernest L. Boyer's monograph Scholarship Reconsidered. It is intended to both reaffirm our commitment to scholarship and assist us in assessing how we define, evaluate, and reward scholarship.

I. Defining Scholarship

The University of Texas Houston Health Science Center's definition of scholarship should reflect its mission to become the model health sciences university for the 21st century and its goals in education, research, and service. Furthermore, the definition should be broad enough to acknowledge the full range of faculty talents required to accomplish the diverse functions of a health sciences university.

The Health Science Center's expanded view of scholarship also should recognize that knowledge may be acquired in a variety of ways: through research, synthesis, practice, and teaching. Therefore, scholars are needed not only to explore the frontiers of knowledge, but also to integrate ideas, connect theory and practice, and inspire students. These functions are inextricably linked and form an interdependent whole. However, considering them individually acknowledges the multi-dimensional nature of scholarship and enhances our ability to foster the mosaic of talents needed to meet the broad challenges in health care. These individual components of scholarship include the scholarship of teaching; the scholarship of discovery; the scholarship of integration; and the scholarship of application.

II. The Scholarship of Teaching

The scholarship of teaching involves both educating and enticing future scholars. It begins with what the teacher knows, and therefore requires individuals who are well-informed about the latest advances in their fields. At its best, teaching involves not only transmitting knowledge, but also transforming and extending knowledge through study and debate.

Teaching is a dynamic endeavor, and great teachers have the ability to stimulate active learning and encourage students to be critical, creative thinkers who have a capacity for a lifetime of learning. In the end, inspired teaching keeps the flame of scholarship alive, and thus ensures the continuity and continued pursuit of knowledge.

III. The Scholarship of Discovery

The scholarship of discovery, which encompasses research or scholarly investigation, is at the very heart of academic life and must be assiduously cultivated and defended. At its best, it contributes not only to the stock of human knowledge, but also to the intellectual climate of the university.

The scholarship of discovery is supported by a strong institutional commitment to the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, to the freedom of inquiry, and to the freedom to follow in a disciplined fashion an investigation wherever it may lead. Such free and open inquiry is essential if we are to make the scientific and applied clinical discoveries that will further the Health Science Center's ability to understand and prevent illness, promote health, and restore normal function.

IV. The Scholarship of Integration

The scholarship of integration refers to the process of giving new meaning to isolated facts. It may entail making connections across disciplines, placing specialties into a larger context, illuminating data in a revealing way, educating non-specialists, or interpreting research (one's own or others') in a way that places it into larger intellectual patterns.

The scholarship of integration is closely related to discovery, involving first research at the boundaries where fields converge. It is interdisciplinary, interpretive, and integrative work that draws facts together, and it has the potential to provide new insights into original research. Such interdisciplinary work is imperative as traditional disciplinary boundaries continue to blur.

V. The Scholarship of Application

The scholarship of application refers to service and clinical activities directly related to one's special field of knowledge in which theory and practice interact to generate new intellectual insights. Such scholarship is serious, demanding work that requires the rigor and accountability traditionally associated with research activities, and it is distinct from citizenship activities that are meritorious social and civic functions also deserving appropriate recognition.

This view of scholarly service – one that both applies to and contributes to human knowledge – is essential in a health sciences university. There are enormous local, state, national, and international challenges in health care, and the Health Science Center has a responsibility to society to use its resources to address these very significant health-related issues.

These four dimensions of scholarship – teaching, discovery, integration, and application – encompass the diverse talents needed to accomplish the mission of a health sciences university, and thus provide a framework not only for defining scholarship, but also for evaluating and rewarding it. Such a framework offers individual schools and departments the flexibility required to support their distinctive missions and goals, while helping to ensure that an appropriate balance of academic efforts is maintained.

VI. Evaluating and Rewarding Scholarship

The system for evaluating and rewarding faculty should acknowledge and creatively assess all areas of scholarship, while reflecting the particular missions, goals, and priorities of the institution and individual schools. It should also help faculty build on their strengths and sustain their creative energies, and, when appropriate or possible, allow for flexible and varied career paths.

The specific criteria used in the evaluation system will vary across schools and departments because of their individual missions and goals, but there are common characteristics that should be embodied in all evaluation systems. First, the criteria should be tailored to accommodate both personal talents and campus needs. Second, the criteria should allow for considering changing patterns of personal and professional growth across a lifetime as well as changing institutional priorities. Third, the criteria should recognize that there are some dimensions of scholarship that are universal – mandates that apply to all faculty. These mandates include the following:

  • All faculty members should establish credentials as researchers by conducting original research on serious intellectual problems and communicating the results to colleagues, even if specialized investigative work is not chosen on an ongoing basis.
  • All faculty members should be knowledgeable of developments in their fields, remaining professionally active.
  • All faculty members should be held to the highest standards of integrity in every aspect of their work.
  • All faculty members' work should be carefully assessed, with intellectual rigor and excellence the yardstick by which all four dimensions of scholarship are measured.

Scholarship at its best should bring faculty together, creating a community of scholars working toward a shared vision of intellectual and social possibilities. This requires defining scholarship in a manner that reflects the mission and goals of The University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center, and it also requires appropriately evaluating and rewarding the full range of scholarly activities needed at the Health Science Center. Such an effort is essential, for it not only legitimizes the full range of academic functions required, but it also enhances the university's ability to respond adequately to academic obligations and social and economic problems.

Ernest L. Boyer, Scholarship Reconsidered, Priorities of the Professoriate. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Princeton University Press, Lawrenceville, New Jersey, 1990.

Updated 10/92