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Teacher-Scholar Model

At Cal Poly, the teacher-scholar model is the embodiment of Learn by Doing for faculty. The teacher-scholar model acknowledges the importance of engagement in continuous learning in one’s field as a qualification of teaching. It enables faculty to continuously develop new knowledge, integrate scholarship into the learning process, and innovate industry-relevant curriculum. The teacher-scholar model puts students at the center of experiential learning. Students benefit from a vibrant learning environment when faculty are provided the time to pursue continued professional and intellectual growth through engagement in research, scholarship and creative activity.1 The Cal Poly framework for the teacher-scholar model, adopted by the Academic Senate in AS-725-11 Resolution on Defining and Adopting the Teacher-Scholar Model, is based on Ernest Boyer’s classification of scholarly activity:


  • Discovery - the pursuit of inquiry and investigation in search of new knowledge; original research, scholarship and creative activities that advances knowledge or the state of the art.
  • Scholarship of Integration – synthesizing knowledge and making connections across disciplines.
  • Application – leveraging disciplinary and professional expertise to address the industry/societal issues of the times in a dynamic process.
  • Teaching/Learning – transmitting, transforming and extending knowledge; systematic study of teaching and learning processes.


Additionally, the scholarship of engagement connects discovery, integration, application, teaching and learning to the understanding and solving of pressing social, civic, and ethical problems. This framework for the teacher-scholar model is depicted in the diagram below.


 Outreach/Extension/Community Partnerships & Impact occur. Between Integration and Application, the diagram depicts Collaborative Practice Model: collaboration, reflective practice, focus on primary task occurs. Between Application and Teaching & Learning, the diagram depicts Community-Based Teaching occurs. Between Teaching & Learning, the diagram depicts Evidenced-Based Teaching occurs. The spaces where the four circles intersect in the diagram cite "A Model of Institutional Scholarship, Boyer 1990, 1996”. Overall, the graphic represents Learn by Doing.

Graphic from Provost Jackson-Elmoore's 2020 open forum during the provost search campus visit.


The teacher-scholar model provides opportunities for faculty to actively participate in teaching and scholarship, for students to be meaningfully involved in faculty scholarly activities, and for the inclusion of scholarship in teaching, creating even more vibrant and engaged learning experiences for students. As such, it provides benefits for both students and faculty. The teacher-scholar model values faculty who integrate teaching and scholarship, which leads to significant benefits for students. When faculty are actively engaged in their fields, contributing to knowledge development, they also engage in curriculum development, making sure students are receiving a modernized and relevant education. At its core, the teacher-scholar model combines commitment to excellence in teaching with relevance and currency in the latest knowledge and practices. Teaching and scholarship are inherently linked and reinforce one another.

There are many reasons why the teacher-scholar model matters (journal article requires Cal Poly login) for Cal Poly. The teacher-scholar model provides opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to obtain skills, apply classroom knowledge and gain professional development by engaging in research, scholarship and creative activities. This engagement facilitates collaborative learning, encourages students to spend more time and effort on inquiry, writing and analytical thinking, and also increases the nature and frequency of meaningful interactions with faculty and peers. Through the teacher-scholar model, faculty both teach and model the act of inquiry. Students have the opportunity to learn how to solve practical, real-world problems in yet another application of Cal Poly’s signature learn by doing pedagogy. In the process, students gain mentors and role models, strengthen their own credentials and are exposed first hand to lifelong, continuous learning.

Student involvement in scholarly endeavors is a form of active learning, a high-impact practice, that enhances student engagement, retention and success. The teacher-scholar model also enhances the educational experience by promoting faculty emphases on deep learning, whereby activities that facilitate students’ development and refinement of key skills and competencies associated with inquiry and innovation are incorporated into courses. Examples include mastering the ability to identify and analyze problems, find and evaluate evidence, and develop and weigh competing interpretations and conclusions. Students become partners in scholarly activity and are exposed to cutting edge knowledge.

Faculty engagement in research, scholarship and creative activity is an essential component of the CSU fulfilling its teaching mission. Engaging in scholarship provides opportunities for faculty to nurture with their creative pursuits and intellectual curiosity, connect with colleagues around the world and spark continuous enthusiasm. The teacher-scholar model facilitates faculty staying at the cutting edge of their disciplines and professions. Collectively, this fuels faculty passion for their fields of study which translate into enhanced teaching and interactions with students. Faculty are able to bring the latest, most innovative knowledge, insights and practices to the teaching and learning experience. The outcomes of this scholarly engagement have impacts locally, across the state and internationally from graduates who are ready day one, to practical, innovative solutions to some of the most pressing industry and societal matters. Some of the benefits of embracing the research, scholarship and creative activities conducted by faculty are highlighted in the CSU 2019 Strategic Plan for Research. The teacher-scholar model is an essential component of Cal Poly’s vibrant and innovative learning community.


1. The teacher-scholar model has been integrated into retention, promotion and tenure standards across campus in alignment with the primary professional responsibilities of instructional faculty: teaching; research, scholarship and creative activity; and service.

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