Inside Higher Ed, New Paths to Full Professor:
[Worcester Polytechnic Institute] faculty ... got to work to defog the promotion process and, in so doing, improve it. In the end, they decided it was all about scholarship — defined five different ways. This is not just a synonym for traditional research. Each definition is a criterion for promotion to full professor, and professors who excel in some areas but not in others already have succeeded.
- Scholarship of discovery — creation of new knowledge, demonstrated in publications and presentations
- Scholarship of integration — interpretation and analysis of existing knowledge
- Scholarship of application and practice — application of knowledge to address important individual, institutional and societal problems
- Scholarship of teaching and learning — development and improvement of pedagogical practices that are shared with others
- Scholarship of engagement — collaborative partnerships with communities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources ...
Previously, promotion to full professor at the institute was based on the triad of teaching, research and service, with some kind of leadership or distinction in research or teaching. That's an approach commonly used for tenure. And as it does on so many other campuses, WPI’s process appeared to favor what Peter Hansen, professor of history and director of international and global studies, called “traditional publications and funded research.” ...
The new criteria were approved in 2017. Hansen said the expanded definition of scholarship has since “elevated teaching” on campus “by better defining the pathways in which scholarly teaching becomes the scholarship of teaching and learning.” ...
Now, Hansen said, teaching — or any other criterion — can become the basis for promotion when it “becomes scholarship.” That is, it must be “public, amenable to critical appraisal and in a form that permits exchange and use by other members of the scholarly community.” ...
Laurie Leshin, university president, said in a statement that the new promotion and tenure criteria “bring our reward system much more in line with our values as an institution.”
The institute balances project-based education and research, she explained, and “these improvements to our tenure and promotion process honor our strengths and our culture by recognizing the importance of such forms of scholarship as interdisciplinary research, translational work, applied scholarship in real communities and the scholarship of teaching and learning.”
The criteria have the benefit of rewarding work “we care about deeply, and doing so in a way that is much more inclusive of our faculty members’ contributions to society,” Leshin added. “I’m very proud of our faculty for bringing these forward, and with the early results of putting them into practice.”