From the President's Desk

In my December post, I argued that college student educators are scholars if we use Boyer’s (1990) definition of scholarship. Boyer articulated four different types of scholarship: discovery, integration, application, and teaching and learning. The scholarship of discovery is what many of us typically envision when we think about research – gathering data that leads to new knowledge. Scholarship of integration concerns making connections of knowledge across disciplines. The scholarship of application occurs when new understandings arise out of utilization of discovered knowledge. Finally, scholarship of teaching and learning is work that examines how to effectively develop skills for knowledge creation and acquisition. College student educators engage in all of those activities in the course of their work. Sometimes they are creating new knowledge in their practice. Other times, they may be integrating knowledge across multiple domains when implementing a program or service. Integrating theory into practice is application. And, college student educators participate in teaching and learning.

Boyer further states that simply engaging in discovery, integration, application, and teaching/learning is not sufficient for scholarship. In a talk he gave to the National Association of Physical Education in Higher Education in 1995 (published in the journal Quest in 1996), Boyer outlines standards to define scholarship.

  1. First, the work must have clear goals.
  2. Appropriate methods are used
  3. Resources are used adequately
  4. Results are significant
  5. Effective communication of the results
  6. Reflective self-critique

Building on Boyer’s (1996) work Glassick, Huber, and Maeroff (1997) refined those standards and offered the following guidelines for scholarship:

  1. Clear goals
  2. Adequate preparation
  3. Appropriate methods
  4. Significant results
  5. Effective presentation
  6. Reflective critique

Five years later, Mentkowski and Loacker (2002) identified another set of six criteria for scholarship:

  1. The activity requires a high level of discipline-expertise.
  2. The activity breaks new ground, is innovative.
  3. The activity can be replicated or elaborated.
  4. The work and its results can be documented.
  5. The work and its results can be peer-reviewed.
  6. The activity has significance and impact.

Integrating Glassick et al. (1997) and Mentkowski and Loacker’s (2002) criteria for scholarship, the following standards for student affairs scholarship (regardless of type: discovery, intergration, application, or teaching and learning) could be specified:

  1. The activity requires a high level of discipline-related expertise: The activity should take into account literature including student development theory, leadership theory, organizational development theory, change theory, and communication. In addition, expertise in fostering student learning and success should also be included.
  2. The activity is innovative: An activity that is similar to activities done on other campuses may not be notable in the student affairs arena. The activity should employ a novel approach to supporting students
  3. The activity has significant impact: Similar to the activity being novel, the impact must be significant. The impact could be on individual students, a department, or institution.
  4. The activity is effectively presented: The activity is effectively shared with key stakeholder groups in form and content appropriate for each target audience so they can understand what the activity is and its impact.
  5. The activity includes reflective critique: The college student educator reflects on the activity to identify what went well and what could be improved.
  6. The activity can be peer-reviewed. Boyer (1995) describes four types of evidence that can be used to evaluate scholarship: self-assessment, peer evaluation, student evaluation, and client evaluation. While self-assessment is important, review by peers with knowledge of the activity provides external, expert feedback and validation.

These six criteria can be used to guide scholarship for college student educators

and ACPA can assist. Through our many professional development activities such as the Donna M. Bourassa Mid-Level Managers Institute that took place the first week in January or the upcoming annual convention in Montréal, individuals can develop the discipline-related expertise. There are numerous opportunities to share the activity with others. These outlets include the Journal of College Student Development, About Campus, Developments, Coalition/Commission/State newsletters, as well as conferences and conventions. ACPA’s myPROfolio provides a structure for reflective critique. This platform provides the functionality of a portfolio for documenting achievements with space for reflecting on these. Finally, ACPA provides opportunity for peer-review. This takes place through our publications but also through the review process for state conferences and the annual convention.

          College student educators can be scholars through their practice and ACPA supports the development of this scholarship through our programs and services. How are you a scholar?


Boyer, E. (1990). Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Boyer, E. (1996). From scholarship reconsidered to scholarship assessed. Quest 48, 129-139. 

Glassick, C. E., M. T. Huber, and G. I. Maeroff. (1997). Scholarship assessed: Evaluation of the professoriate. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Mentkowski, M., & Loaker, G. (2002). Enacting a collaborative scholarship of assessment. In T. Banta (Ed.), Building a scholarship of assessment. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.