ERIC Identifier: ED272248
Publication Date: 1986-05-00
Author: Oromaner, Mark
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse for
Junior Colleges Los Angeles CA.
The Community College Professor: Teacher and Scholar. ERIC
The community college developed, in part, as a response to the
preoccupation of elite universities with research (Parilla, 1986). Indeed, one
of the strengths of the community college has been its commitment to student
development. This commitment is evident in the amount of resources devoted to
counseling and tutoring, and in the emphasis on teaching as the primary faculty
responsibility. Unfortunately, this emphasis has frequently caused classroom
teaching to be divorced from scholarship. If it is often assumed at the research
university that superior or popular teachers are inferior scholars, it is often
assumed at the community college that scholars cannot be good teachers. One
consequence of this asssumption is a reluctance to hire Ph.D. holders as
community college faculty (Harrison, 1979; Smith, 1979).
SCHOLARSHIP AND TEACHING
Although the teaching role is not a necessary condition for successful
scholarship, some form of scholarship appears to be a necessary condition for
successful teaching over an extended period of time. As a result, the stress on
teaching in community colleges may have led to a decline in the quality of
In an autobiographical essay on the importance of research for teaching, Hans
A. Schmitt (1965), a Tulane history professor, argued that teaching wears one
out, that one gets tired of it, and that it can become monotonous. Only the
excitement of research can keep the teacher vital: "Take research out of a
teacher's life and you condemn him (or her) to a robot existence" (Schmitt,
Twenty years after the appearance of Schmitt's comments, Parilla (1986) and
Vaughan (1986) made similar observations. Since Schmitt's time the terms of the
argument have changed to scholarship, faculty renewal, and burnout, but the
message remains the same: teaching should not be separated from scholarship.
Vaughan places his plea within a historical context and suggests that recent
developments in the community college world have made the case for scholarship
particularly compelling. The fact that new colleges are not being opened, that
enrollments are declining, that funds for professional development are scarce,
and that community college faculty are aging, all reinforce the importance of
scholarship as a means of enhancing "both our performance and our image as
professionals" (Vaughan, 1986, p. 14). These developments, along with the fact
that community college professors have relatively few opportunities to teach a
variety of courses, necessitate the development of a mechanism to prevent
boredom and burnout.
In short, the concern that universities have expressed about the impact of
the aging of the faculty on the quality of scholarship (Oromaner, 1981) should
be paralleled at community colleges by a concern for the impact of the graying
process on the quality of teaching. This concern must involve an analysis of the
contribution of scholarly activities to the quality of teaching.
RESEARCH ON SCHOLARSHIP AND TEACHING
Faia (1976) notes that the literature studying the relationship between
teaching and scholarship is contradictory and limited. However, Faia's own
research has implications for community colleges. Analyzing data collected from
over 50,000 faculty members at 301 colleges, he examined the relationship
between teaching proficiency, awards received for teaching, and research
productivity. At colleges where research was not strongly emphasized, faculty
members who published extensively were nearly twice as likely as nonpublishers
(31 percent vs. 17 percent) to have received teaching awards. At
research-oriented colleges the relationship was much weaker (20 percent vs. 15
percent). Although further study is needed, Faia's data should help alleviate
fears that faculty members who engage in scholarship and publication will not be
able to function as effective instructors. This is particularly true at
institutions, such as community colleges, that do not stress publishing.
This is not to suggest that community colleges should adopt a "publish or
perish" policy or even that they should stress research and publishing
activities. Something more modest is being suggested: Community colleges should
institutionalize the scholarship component of the teaching role. This may
include research and publishing; however, as indicated below, scholarship is not
limited to these activities.
THE NATURE OF SCHOLARSHIP
Both Parilla (1986) and Vaughan (1986) point out that the concepts of
research and scholarship must be clearly differentiated and that definitions of
scholarship that are appropriate to community colleges must be developed. I had
the experience of offering a staff development workshop at Hudson County
Community College with the title, "Writing about the Community College:
Professional Obligations and Personal Opportunities." My goal, to stimulate
staff members to write publishable articles (preferably based on research), was
inappropriate. I should have discussed ways of stimulating professional growth
through an array of scholarly activities. The audience for the workshop was
comprised of members of the student services department, mainly counselors, and
not faculty members. The point here is that the role of scholarship in the
enhancement of professional performance should be explored across professions.
Community college personnel should be particularly sensitive to the role of all
professionals, not only teachers, in the development of students.
I suggest that commonly accepted definitions of research and scholarship
equate the two activities because these definitions have, in general, been
developed by university-based scholars for whom publishable research is by far
the most significant, or only, form of scholarship. This research is valued not
for its ability to contribute to teaching, although it may make such a
contribution, but for its ability to contribute to the advancement of a research
area, to the solution of an empirical or theoretical puzzle, or to the
development of a discipline.
Consequently, university scholarship is often evaluated on the degree to
which it is cited in subsequently published research (Oromaner, 1981). If a work
is a contribution to the discipline, the norms of scholarship require that it be
cited. The existence of the SCIENCE CITATION INDEX, the SOCIAL SCIENCES CITATION
INDEX, and the ARTS & HUMANITIES CITATION INDEX makes such evaluations quite
easy. However, citation analysis is an inappropriate measure of the value of
scholarship conducted at the community college. Although community college
professors may contribute to their disciplines, and such contributions should be
evaluated on the same criteria as are the contributions of others, these
evaluations are of concern to the discipline and are not of primary concern to
the community college. What is of concern here is the contribution of the work
In a study conducted by Pellino, Blackburn, and Boberg (1984), almost 90
percent of the respondents at research-oriented universities replied in the
affirmative when asked "Are you actively involved in research which you expect
to lead to publication?" Predictably, only 22 percent of the respondents at
community colleges gave an affirmative response. In addition, approximately 60
percent of the community college respondents stated that they had not been
active in such research since graduate school. From an institutional
perspective, however, the question is not appropriate for community college
professors; it is certainly not relevant. An appropriate and relevant question
is: "Are you actively involved in scholarship which you expect to lead to an
increase in the quality of your teaching performance?" When asked to indicate
the amount of time spent on an "activity you consider to be of a scholarly
nature," excluding teaching and immediate classroom preparation, 95 percent of
the community college professors indicated at least one hour per week; and over
20 percent indicated eleven or more hours.
Unfortunately, although a great amount of knowledge has been generated
concerning the development of quality research at the university, relatively
little knowledge has been generated concerning the relationship between various
forms of scholarship, including research, and the quality of teaching at the
community college. In part, this reflects value and stratification systems in
higher education and, in part, it reflects the separation of scholarship and
teaching at the community college.
At present, given the state of our knowledge, I propose that we adopt the
principle, "Let a hundred flowers blossom." That is, the most liberal
definitions of scholarship should be employed. Pellino, Blackburn and Boberg
(1984) have identified six dimensions of scholarship: professional activity;
research/publication; artistic endeavor; engagement with novel ideas; community
service; and pedagogy. Examples of each include reviewing articles for a
journal; publishing an article; performing or exhibiting an artistic work;
engaging in systematic study to gain new knowledge or acquire a new research
technique; delivering a talk to a local civic or religious organization; and
preparing a new (and extensive) syllabus for a course. The systematic processes
involved in each of these activities will do much to strengthen teaching and to
combat boredom and burnout.
INSTITUTIONALIZATION OF SCHOLARSHIP
Examples of scholar/teachers exist on every campus. What is missing is the
formal encouragement, support and reward that would institutionalize the role of
the scholar/teacher. A number of positive consequences would follow from the
creation of such a role.
The quality of teaching candidates would increase if they were informed that
scholarship is an integral part of teaching. (This is certainly more likely to
attract quality candidates than is the statement, "We are a teaching institution
and not interested in research," or "If you do research, you are on your own.")
Criteria for tenure and promotion evaluations would include, as one element, the
demonstration of scholarly activity and its relationship to teaching. Finally,
in terms of ongoing support, faculty development programs would become more
content-oriented, and stress "what to teach" rather than "how to teach"
(Parilla, 1986, p. 2).
Intellectual concerns are at the heart of teaching. The institutionalization
of scholarship provides an opportunity for community colleges to stress these
concerns and, in so doing, to revitalize the teaching role.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Faia, M. A. "Teaching and Research: Rapport or Misalliance." RESEARCH IN
HIGHER EDUCATION 4(l976);235-246.
Harrison, J. D. "Ph.D. Faculty in Community Colleges." COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Oromaner, M. "The Quality of Scientific Scholarship and the 'Graying' of the
Academic Profession: A Skeptical View." RESEARCH IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Parilla, R. E. "Gladly Would They Learn and Gladly Teach." Occasional Paper
Vol. 4, No. 1. Southern Association of Community and Junior Colleges, 1986. ED
Pellino, G. R., R. T. Blackburn, and A. L. Boberg. "The Dimensions of
Academic Scholarship: Faculty and Administrator Views." RESEARCH IN HIGHER
Schmitt, H. A. "Teaching and Research: Companions or Adversaries?" JOURNAL OF
HIGHER EDUCATION 36(1965):419-427.
Smith, M. L. "The Two-Year College and the Ph.D. Surplus." ACADEME
Vaughan, G. B. "In Pursuit of Scholarship." COMMUNITY, TECHNICAL, AND JUNIOR
COLLEGE JOURNAL 56(1986):12-16.