Saturday, January 28, 2017
Brookings Institution: Are Great Teachers Poor Scholars?, by David Figlio (Northwestern) & Morton O. Schapiro (Northwestern):
Colleges and universities must balance many goals, and research universities in particular aspire to excellence in both teaching and research. University administrators and policymakers alike are interested in ensuring that publicly-supported private and public universities operate at high levels of instructional and scholarly quality, but to date we know little about whether scholarly excellence comes at a cost in terms of teaching quality, or vice versa.
We bring to bear unique matched student-faculty data from Northwestern University, a midsized research university that is one of the 26 private universities among the 62 members of the Association of American Universities, to investigate the relationship between teaching and scholarly quality. Using the full population of all first-year undergraduates enrolled at Northwestern between fall 2001 and fall 2008 (over 15,000 students in all), we empirically generate two new measures of teaching quality—one an indicator of inspiration (the rate of “conversion” of non-majors to majors) and the other an indicator of deep learning (the degree to which a professor adds lasting value to students’ learning that is reflected in success in future classes). We also investigate two measures of research quality—one based on a measure of the relative importance of a scholar’s research in the field, and the other a measure of national or international prominence as reflected by major awards.
We find that, regardless of our measure of teaching quality or our measure of research quality employed, there is no relationship between the teaching quality and research quality of tenured Northwestern faculty. Our estimates are “precise zeroes,” indicating that it’s unlikely that mismeasurement of teaching or research quality explains the lack of a relationship between the two. Therefore, while Northwestern admittedly occupies a rarefied space in the hierarchy of American universities, our results suggest that excellent teaching and excellent research are not substitutes (though neither are they apparently complements).