School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

TIGER Blog - Making your Scholarship Count

On 28 February, Professor Lu Mello from the University of Liverpool delivered a workshop as part of our TIGER group that focused on scholarship and pedagogical research.

7 March 2019

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This was a hugely valuable session and has encouraged me to push myself more in terms of organising my pedagogic activities and start publishing pedagogical papers. I will not leave data sitting under my desk!

The workshop started by Lu asking us how we would define scholarship. What is scholarship? A silence settled in the room. This is the problem – scholarship is difficult to define yet many of us are expected to provide evidence of our contribution to scholarship. The literature provides different definitions, some of which describe categories of scholarship such as discovery, integration, application and teaching (Boyer, 1997; Trigwell et al., 2000) but these are hugely dated and the bottom line is we need a current definition that provides more clarity on what scholarship is. One suggestion that Lu made was that scholarship is engaging with pedagogical research and changing things; taking a dynamic and open-minded approach to your teaching.

Though her background is a traditional academic career in Biology, Lu was always very interested in teaching and pedagogy and eventually decided that she wanted this to be her focus, she accepted a T&S role at the University of Liverpool in 2010. She was on her own educational journey but rather than separate this experience from her teaching, she chose to incorporate and apply everything she was learning in her teaching to improve the students’ learning experience on a bioinformatics postgraduate module; a blended approach of pedagogical research-led teaching. Something she found invaluable to this process was the student voice, especially in terms of encouraging other staff teaching on the module who initially resisted making similar changes due to the time commitment to get on board – staff persuasion, which coincidentally has its own theory!

Lu encouraged us to consider why scholarship is significant and what the reach of our scholarship is - the ripples of impact extend from the module level to department to institution to national and international level and these ripples mirror the level of scholarship that is being achieved she feels. She shared her insight in terms of how to exercise your scholarship, how to demonstrate the impact of your scholarship and how to evidence the impact of your scholarship. Of course there are barriers to pursuing these activities and Lu openly acknowledges these – the barriers may exist at a work level, institutional level and personal level but they can all be overcome if we are motivated enough to make a change - we are all responsible for changing the landscape of teaching and scholarship.

The second part of the workshop focused on publishing in education. Lu provided hugely detailed and valuable insight with regards to getting started with pedagogical research. She emphasised the importance of getting ethical approvalwhen asking students for feedback and reminded us that though there are differences which take some adjusting to when publishing in the social sciences e.g. words are data (!), many of the main steps in the process are the same. At the end of the day, you are trying to create a good story that provides a significant contribution to literature. So, let’s get started!

Written by Dr Rachel O'Callaghan, Chair of TIGER Group 

Further reading:

Thrower (2012). Eight reasons I rejected your article.

BERA (2003). Good practice in educational research writing

http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v24.29366

https://doi.org/10.1080/23752696.2017.1339287

Learn more about the TIGER group.