Information Age Education
   Issue Number 102
November, 2012   

This free Information Age Education Newsletter is written by Dave Moursund and Bob Sylwester, and produced by Ken Loge. The newsletter is one component of the Information Age Education project. See and the end of this newsletter. All back issues of this newsletter are available free online at

This is the third of a sequence of IAE Newsletters focusing on the Common core State Standards (CCSS) being developed by the CCSS Initiative in the United States (CCSS, 2012).

Common Core State Standards
Science and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

David Moursund
Emeritus Professor
University of Oregon

The Science of Teaching and Learning—now more frequently called Scholarship of Teaching and Learning—(both abbreviated as SoTL) has a very long history (Moursund, 2012).

Think back many tens of thousands of years. A child growing up in a small clan or tribe learned the culture of the community along with survival skills such as hunting and gathering. This informal type of education sufficed.

As tools such as thrown spears and later bows and arrows were developed, children played with toys that introduced them to the tools. They observed and participated in the routine use of the tools by their older playmates, received hands-on instruction from adults, and learned by doing.

This type of hands-on learn-by-doing educational system began to change as agriculture supported the development of larger population centers and specialists in the making and using of various tools emerged a little more than 10,000 years ago. In this type of environment, apprentices might spend years learning a specialization.

Reading and writing were developed little more than 5,000 years ago. The written language incorporated written symbols for numbers. Schools and formal schooling were established to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. The art and craft of formal school teaching had begun.

Now, fast-forward 5,000 years to our present time. The art and craft of teaching and learning has improved significantly over these intervening years. Technological developments such as the printing press led to the mass production of print materials that greatly changed our world. The continued development and accumulation of new knowledge and skills has accelerated the pace of change.

The art and craft of teaching and learning has recently morphed into the SoTL. Jacqueline Dewar and Curtis Bennett (2010) wrote in “Situating SoTL within the Disciplines: Mathematics in the United States as a Case Study:”

Ernest Boyer (1990) introduced the phrase “scholarship of teaching” into the vocabulary of higher education in his book, Scholarship Reconsidered. He proposed that colleges and universities needed a fresh vision of scholarship in order to tap the full range of faculty talents and to encourage vital connections between academic institutions and their local communities. He labeled and described four types of scholarship: discovery, application, integration and teaching, and he discussed some of the characteristics of what is now called SoTL, but did not offer a fully developed definition that included peer review and making results public. While similar concepts had previously been discussed (Cross, 1986) and later critical distinctions between scholarly teaching and the scholarship of teaching surfaced (Richlin, 1993, 2001, 2003), as President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Boyer brought national and international attention to SoTL.

We Are All Lifelong Learners and Teachers

I view all people as lifelong learners and teachers. Ongoing and lifelong learning are built into our physical and cognitive capabilities. Each of us learns as our brain processes new information from our senses and integrates this with information already stored in our brain.

In our every interaction with others, we function as both a teacher and a learner. This starts even before we are born. For example, an unborn child’s brain becomes familiar with its mother’s voice cadence and tonality. And, of course, you are familiar with the infant child teaching his or her parents and other caregivers, as they teach the child.

Over thousands of years, education practitioners and researchers have been improving the art, craft, science, and scholarship of teaching and learning to better fit the needs of students and the capabilities of teachers, and to take advantage of the many aids to teaching and learning that continue to be developed. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is the latest of major efforts tin the United States to systematize curriculum content, teaching methodology, and assessment in key components of PK-12 education (CCSS, 2012).

Students in our school systems learn content and to use their learning—but in the process also learn how to teach. Probably you have seen young children playing “school” and imitating teaching methodologies they have already learned from their own informal and formal schooling.

By the time college students enter a teacher education program, they already know a great deal about teaching and learning from having participated in PK-12 and several years of college schooling. If the teaching they have received has been good, they already have made good progress toward eventually becoming effective teachers. Many students enter teacher education programs with the goal of making PK-12 education better in the future than it was for them.

Unfortunately, our teacher education programs face a difficult task when they must try to remediate students who have been poorly taught and/or have already learned ineffective methods of teaching and learning. In addition, preservice teachers face the difficult challenges of learning to incorporate all of the following into their teaching: newer methods of teaching; new developments in Information and Communication Technology (ICT); new aids to teaching and learning; recent progress in cognitive neuroscience; newer course content being developed based on new discoveries and inventions; and so on. A final challenge is the fact that our world, the precollege students to be taught, and preservice teachers in teacher education programs are quite a bit different than they were a generation ago. One of the most important differences is the fact that many of today’s students are much more computer-adept than their teachers (IAE, 12/19/2011).

Academic Disciplines and Specialization

The steady accumulation of knowledge and skills over thousands of years has led us to an educational system that is divided into academic disciplines. Starting in kindergarten and continuing through high school, the study of disciplines such as language arts, math, science, social science, world languages, physical education, the arts, and so on tend to be separated from each other.

The breadth and depth of content in the various disciplines in the curriculum tend to overwhelm many preservice and beginning teachers. Many struggle to gain the knowledge and skills to be knowledgeable, creative, and flexible teachers for all the variety of disciplines they are responsible for teaching.

Academic Disciplines
Each academic discipline or area of study can be defined by a combination of general ideas such as:
  • The types of problems, tasks, and activities it addresses.

  • Its accumulated accomplishments such as results, achievements, products, performances, scope, power, uses, impact on the societies of the world, and so on, and its methods of preserving and passing on these accomplishments to current and future generations.

  • Its history, culture, and language, including notation and special vocabulary.

  • Its lower-order and higher-order knowledge and skills, along with critical thinking and understanding.

  • Its tools, methodologies, and types of evidence and arguments used to solve problems, accomplish tasks, and record and share accumulated results.

  • Its methods of teaching, learning, and assessment.

  • How one effectively teaches in a manner that preserves and sustains the discipline and passes it on to future generations.

  • The knowledge and skills that separate and distinguish among: a) a novice; b) a person who has a personally useful level of competence; c) a reasonably competent person, employable in the discipline; d) an expert; and e) a world-class expert.
Discipline Specificity is a Major CCSS Challenge

Within a specific discipline, each of the bulleted items listed above can be an area of serious research, development, and other scholarly activity.

Undoubtedly you have heard about the idea of “viewing the world through rose-colored glasses.” Think about the idea of viewing the world through the “eyes” of a specific discipline. A specialist in music learns to view the world through music-colored glasses. A specialist in psychology learns to view the world through psychology-colored glasses. An interdisciplinary researcher in science might learn to view the world through a combination of computer, math, and science-colored glasses.

In all cases, this “viewing the world” is based on learning to think, communicate, solve problems, and apply the knowledge and skills of the discipline. When students learn math in elementary school, we want them to learn some specific math topics and we also want them to learn to think in terms of this math as a way of viewing (dealing with) some of the problems and tasks they are encountering across the curriculum and outside of school, and will encounter in their adult lives. Similarly, we don’t simply want students to learn to read and write. We want them to learn to read and write across the discipline areas they are studying in school and learning about in life outside of school. We want them to master the transfer of learning to other disciplines they have studied, are studying, and will study. We want transfer of learning to novel problems and tasks they will encounter in the future.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

For thousands of years, we have been well served by print, a static media. Even as we developed the telegraph, telephone, photography, recording and playback devices, radio, films, and television, these media have not been very interactive. However, computer technology has changed this. We now make routine use of media and other tools that have some semblance of intelligence. The machine intelligence is very different from human intelligence, but still is quite able to rapidly and accurately solve a wide variety of problems of interest to people and to carry out a large number of tasks for people. This automation of mental and physical tasks brings a new dimension to informal and formal education. It also brings major challenges to our educational system.

I will explore some of these challenges in my next two IAE Newsletters. Meanwhile, let me leave you with an important idea to mull over. Educators have long agreed that there are basics in educational content. They have agreed that students need to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic “across the curriculum.” They recognize that transfer of learning is one of the most important ideas in education (Perkins and Salomon, 1992).

What educators have neither agreed on nor acted on is the idea of ICTing across the curriculum—thoroughly integrating the use of ICT as a routine component of curriculum content, instructional processes, and assessment that includes formative, summative, and residual input components. They have not agreed on the importance of the open computer, open connectivity approach to representing and solving problems that are now routine in the adult world of work and play. It is time to address these issues seriously and to be certain ICT is well integrated into the emerging CCSS.


Boyer, E. (1990). Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

CCSS (2012). Common Core State Standards Initiative. Retrieved 11/27/2012 from

Dewar, J., & Bennett, C. (2010). Situating SoTL within the Disciplines: Mathematics in the United States as a Case Study. Retrieved 10/29/2012 from http://academics

IAE (12/11/2011). A New Kind of Learner. Information Age Education Blog. Retrieved 11/27/2012 from

Moursund, D. (2012). Scholarship/Science of Teaching and Learning. Retrieved 11/3/2012 from

Perkins, D., & Salomon, G. (1992). Transfer of Learning. Contribution to the International Encyclopedia of Education. 2nd ed. Oxford, England: Pergamon Press. Retrieved 11/3/2012 from

David Moursund

David Moursund earned his doctorate in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He taught in the Mathematics Department and Computing Center at Michigan State University for four years before joining the faculty at the University of Oregon.

A few highlights of his professional career include founding the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), serving as ISTE’s executive officer for 19 years, and establishing ISTE’s flagship publication, Learning and Leading with Technology. He was a major professor or co-major professor of 82 doctoral students. In 2007, he founded Information Age Education (IAE), a non-profit company dedicated to improving teaching and learning by people of all ages throughout the world. See He has authored or coauthored more than 60 academic books and hundreds of articles. Many of these books are available free online. See He has presented hundreds of professional talks and workshops.

Reader Comments

We are using the Disqus commenting system to facilitate comments and discussions pertaining to this newsletter. To use Disqus, please click the Login link below and sign in. If you have questions about how to use Disqus, please refer to this help page.
Readers may also send comments via email directly to

About Information Age Education, Inc.

Information Age Education is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving education for learners of all ages throughout the world. Current IAE activities include a Wiki with address, a Website containing free books and articles at, a Blog at, and the free newsletter you are now reading.

For a free subscription to this twice a month newsletter and to see back issues, go to You can change your address or cancel your subscription by clicking on the “Manage your Subscription” link at the bottom of this message.