This paper asserts a claim about how to promote effective undergraduate learning. On the basis of existing evidence and our own observation, we contend that the teacher-scholar model of faculty professional activity brings important benefits to individual student learners, institutions where that model flourishes, and to society more broadly. We believe that there is evidence for the synergy between teaching and scholarship, and that an even better understanding of effective learning would follow from further analysis of existing national data. We think that dissemination of this evidence and further discussion of these issues will allow the partnership between teaching and scholarship to do its good work on behalf of many more students in a wide range of institutions.
Student learning must be our highest priority. For that reason, if no other, the assessment of student learning across an undergraduate career deserves the serious attention it has been getting in recent years. But assessments must take into account the importance of what we call “engaged inquiry” by faculty members, an activity that involves more than scholarly publication alone.
Because we see scholarship and teaching as mutually sustaining endeavors, we believe that all institutions, not just universities with graduate-level programs, should promote and strongly support the scholarly engagement of their faculties in order to ensure the best quality educational experience for undergraduates.