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Scholarship Approach

Our students built a concrete canoe!
Student Spotlight:
Kayla Sandoval
The very nature of engineering is always developing and shifting, which means that our education never stops.

The value of scholarship is markedly increasing at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and the College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST). Prior to the early 2000’s CAST was characterized as primarily a “teaching” college, and during the mid-2000’s RIT and CAST began a transition toward higher expectations for scholarly productivity, particularly externally-funded scholarly productivity. Effective in the 2009 academic year, pre-tenured faculty were placed on scholarship-intensive portfolios and tenured faculty selected a scholarship-intensive, blended, or teaching-intensive portfolio based on personal interests and available resources. At the time of portfolio selection for tenured faculty, sufficient resources were not available to accommodate all tenured faculty requests for blended or scholarship-intensive portfolios and a phased approach to portfolio selection was undertaken until sufficient resources became available to facilitate tenured faculty choices for particular portfolios. For tenured faculty unable to select a portfolio of interest in the 2009 academic year, reasonable accommodation was be made on a case-by-case basis to facilitate professional and career development relative to promotion. Reasonable accommodations for tenured faculty were documented in one (1) and three (3) year “Plans of Work.”

I. CAST Scholarship Defined

CAST faculty embrace the RIT Scholarship Policy (January 9 2003) typology of scholarship and actively engage in the Scholarship of Discovery, the Scholarship of Integration, the Scholarship of Application, and the Scholarship of Teaching.

  1. Scholarship of Discovery. This leads to new understandings, knowledge and views. This involves activities that include investigation and/or problem-solving in a faculty member’s primary area or areas of expertise or multi-disciplinary areas that include the primary area.
  2. Scholarship of Integration. This brings and connects knowledge together from various sources. This involves activities that examine current knowledge and conditions from a range of sources and distill the results to create or enhance course materials and curricula, educational or presentation materials, web sites, books or other sources of information.
  3. Scholarship of Application. This involves faculty members using knowledge and skills from their primary area or areas of expertise to solve a problem or understand an area of interest. This is most commonly done to assist an organization, an individual or a group (consulting) but can include creative activities and projects.
  4. Scholarship of Teaching. This entails the study of teaching and pedagogical methods based on classroom observations and experimentation, assessment of teaching and learning, and developing strategies for improving student learning. This knowledge is transmitted to students in lectures and to peers in the academic community through presentations and publication.

Scholarly activities in CAST may occur within or across traditional disciplinary boundaries. This broad scope of scholarly work is due to the multidisciplinary nature of the college, and its mission to create new curricula related to emerging fields and disciplines. Thus, faculty may choose to engage in scholarship consistent with their expertise but it would also be appropriate for the faculty to extend that expertise into multiple disciplines and to disseminate results to a wide variety of audiences.

The process of creation and innovation is only the first step of scholarship. In order for this activity to be recognized as scholarship, it must also be documented, peer reviewed and disseminated. Each of these critical steps is discussed below.

1. Documentation

Documentation is a formal record of scholarly activity with sufficient detail to clearly delineate the unique scope of the work and results (if applicable).  The documentation must be in a format suitable for peer review and dissemination.

2. Peer Review

Peer Review is the means by which professional equals outside RIT provide feedback on the quality of the work.  Reviewers must be those who have the demonstrated capacity to do so, and the review must not be covered by a confidentiality agreement.
Peer groups include but are not limited to members of industry associations, external faculty groups, professional associations, conference audiences, journal editorial reviewers, and grant and expert review panels. It is the responsibility of the faculty to document the depth of the peer review that has taken place, in order to demonstrate the quality of the scholarly work.

3. Dissemination

Dissemination is the distribution of documented, peer-reviewed work using venues which provide access to the scholarship to professional peers outside of the Institute. In January 2008, President Destler communicated to the RIT community that, “The work must be communicated beyond RIT to critical audiences in a way that will allow us to evaluate the quality and impact of these efforts.”

Potential venues and means for dissemination include (Note that this is NOT considered a list of equivalent activities):

  1. Publication of articles, critiques, notes, and evaluations in research journals, trade or professional journals, or at regional, national and international conferences. These materials should be related to the professional activities of the faculty member.
  2. Use of submissions by a governing or professional standard setting body (contribution must be of appropriate scope to demonstrate a significant impact).
  3. Publication of articles, critiques, or educational content materials on externally available websites.
  4. Publication of case studies or articles on consulting work, describing non-proprietary information on the work carried out; basic problem addressed and solutions.
  5. Presentation of refereed papers, presentations or posters at professional peer or technical meetings.
  6. Demonstrated application of scholarship in the faculty member’s field or discipline which is documented in a technical, management or design report.
  7. Submission of grant and contract applications to support scholarship, also including educational material development, program evaluation, or laboratory expansion.
  8. Creative or innovative work or authorship resulting in patents and licenses, computer software, designs, simulations, multimedia materials, the publication of a textbook, manuscript, professional standard of practice, chapters in edited volumes, or laboratory manual in the related field or discipline.

II. Levels of Scholarship

While all CAST faculty are expected to have some scholarship component in their annual plan of work, the specific expected level of scholarship is established in the annual plan of work and is jointly determined by the faculty member and department administration. Determining the expected scholarly effort and output should give consideration to the faculty member’s teaching and service workload.

III. Documentation for Review

Evidence of a faculty member’s scholarly work is documented in a portfolio and available for review as part of the annual review and plan of work process. Appropriate documentation includes but is not limited to the following: copies of papers, grant proposals submitted and received reports, presentations, articles, manuals, abstracts, letters of invitation, letters of acceptance from publishers and editorial boards, client letters, website URLs, and software user documentation. In addition, CAST requires that all scholarly artifacts be submitted for inclusion to the RIT Digital Media Library as a repository record.