Broader view of scholarship

From Institutionalizing a broader view of scholarship by John Braxton, William Luckey and Patricia Helland

Academic disciplines vary in the level of consensus (high versus low) on such factors as theoretical orientation, appropriate research methods, and the importance of various research questions to the advancement of the discipline (Kuhn 1962, 1970; Lodahl and Gordon 1972; Biglan 1973). Biology and chemistry are examples of high consensus disciplines, history and sociology of low consensus ones. Braxton and Hargens (1996) conclude from an extensive review of empirical research that faculty in high consensus fields experience higher rates of publication, lower journal rejection rates, and greater availability of external funding for research than do their low consensus counterparts. In contrast, faculty in low consensus fields are more oriented toward teaching than their faculty colleagues in high consensus disciplines (Braxton and Hargens 1996). In comparison with high consensus faculty, academics in low consensus disciplines spend more time on teaching and express a greater interest in it. They also tend to receive higher course evaluations and exhibit an affinity for enacting teaching activities designed to improve undergraduate education (Braxton and Hargens 1996; Braxton 1995; Braxton, Olsen and Simmons 1998). Given such a pattern of difference, the level of faculty engagement in the four domains of scholarship may differ between high consensus (biology and chemistry) and low consensus (history and sociology) academic disciplines.

© John Braxton, William Luckey and Patricia Helland