About those teaching philosophies …
Although I totally agree with the principle that work should
never be plagiarized, I think this article hides a deeper problem
(“Is nothing sacred? Our personal teaching philosophies have
been plagiarized,” February 2016). As an administrator, I read
a large number of “teaching philosophies” in applications
for academic positions and came to the conclusion they were
almost worthless. Effectively they all repeat the same basic
ideas. I realized this when I was forced to write my own
teaching philosophy in an application for a teaching award.
I read through several as preparation and found that I had
nothing new to say. So I simply quoted a student who had
written on a teaching evaluation, “I did not enjoy this course
at all. Dr. Watson expected us to think about new ideas in
almost every class.” I got the award.
Dr. Watson is an emeritus professor of physics at Carleton University – and says he still enjoys teaching.
Federation by division
a reflection on the unique contribution that
federated and affiliated institutions bring in the
postsecondary landscape is very welcome (“
Federated and affiliated colleges: different but
[mainly] equal,” February 2016”). I would like to
add that while many affiliated and federated
agreements were created by adding to, or putting
together, already existing resources, Saint Paul
University’s federation with the University of
Ottawa resulted from a division of efforts. Saint
Paul University continued some of the activities
that were part of the “old” University of Ottawa.
Moreover, Saint Paul University and the University of Ottawa have the only federation with a
renewable memorandum of understanding.
Dr. Beauvais is rector of Saint Paul University.
A timely review
thank you for the timely (for me) review of
federated and affiliated colleges. As a member of
the board at St. Paul’s, U of Waterloo, I welcome
the wider view that history and shared experience provide.
Ms. Simpson is a member of the board at St. Paul’s University
College, affiliated with the University of Waterloo.
Publicly engaged scholars
at the university of Washington, as mentioned
in your recent article, we have a thriving community of practice in public scholarship (“
Taking the doctorate in new directions,” January
2016). As a graduate student in English here, I
can attest to the level of rigor and deep personal
www.affaresunverstares.ca / févrer 2016 /
À mon avis
In my opinion
This is our teaching philosophy,
byMary Anne White and Joan Davison Conrod
Mary Anne White is the Harry
Shirreff Professor of Chemical
Research, and Joan Davison
Conrod is a professor in the
Rowe School of Business,
both at Dalhousie University.
are concerned that there appears
to be widespread plagiarism of
our personal statements of teaching philosophy. Teaching philosophies are meant to be intensely
individual statements. The idea that academics
would plagiarize in this area is absurd, especially
since we know that plagiarism is a serious issue
in academic circles. We are concerned that, having generously allowed our teaching philosophies to be used in resource material, they were
then published online by others as unattributed
“examples” and also widely plagiarized.
Do you review the teaching philosophy statements of others, perhaps in teaching dossiers
contained in tenure, promotion or application
files? If any of the following statements seem
familiar, you should be uneasy:
1) “By their very nature, people are inquisitive.”
2) “The goal of education should be to encourage seeking answers, as it is in this way that we
3) “I bring a lot of energy to my class. If I can’t
get excited about my subject, why should my students?”
These statements are from our personal written teaching philosophies and we assure you that
every phrase was original when we crafted our
Carol O’Neil and Alan Wright of Dalhousie
University’s Centre for Learning and Teaching
created a resource in the 1990’s titled Recording
Teaching Accomplishment, subsequently revised as
far as a fifth edition. It is a widely used resource
for those preparing a teaching dossier. Along
with several others, we granted permission for
our teaching philosophies to be included. In this
resource, all the teaching philosophy authors were
appropriately attributed. Fast-forward 20 years.
Recently, one of us was advising a young
scholar who was applying for her first academic
position. The full teaching philosophy statement
document, including the first two statements we
quoted earlier, was shared with her, along with
the comment, “Of course yours will be quite different, but I thought this might help turn some
gears for you.” The young scholar replied: “Did
you know a version of your teaching statement
is online?” and included a link.
Indeed, we then discovered the same link to
our teaching philosophies after we Googled
“teaching philosophy examples.” These were on
the website of a teaching support centre at a
major Canadian university (not Dalhousie). The
only attribution was “Taken from Dalhousie
University’s Guide to the Teaching Dossier.” The
full documents were not cited and no authorship
was acknowledged, although our authorship was
specifically acknowledged in the Dalhousie
resource. No permission was sought from the
authors to use the works on the website.
This led us to further investigate. When we
Googled the line “I bring a lot of energy to my
class…” quoted above, we found 16 direct hits in
the first two pages of results, word-for-word from
other instructors’ teaching philosophies. The
copyists were from around the world, ranging
from a Grade 4 English teacher to an academic
at a highly regarded Canadian university. Google
is illuminating at times.
Looking deeper, we observed one teaching
philosophy that said, “By theirvery nature, people
are inquisitive. The goal of education should be
to encourage seeking answers, as it is in this way
that we advance.” You might want to compare that
to the first two statements above and reflect on
whose teaching philosophy it is. We believe that
many more paraphrased versions, and many off-line versions, of our teaching philosophies exist.
Having the “example” teaching philosophies
so readily available may have eased the path for
others to write (or cut-and-paste) “their” teaching
philosophies. We also wonder if the fact that these
online teaching philosophies were unattributed
contributed to the issue.
This situation came to light at the start of the
fall term, a time of year when we begin our
courses with strong admonition to our students
that all works quoted must be properly attributed, with dire consequences for any offenders.
At Dalhousie University, our policy clearly states
that plagiarism includes “failure to attribute
authorship when using sources.” We expect all
reputable universities to have similar policies.
The Teaching Support Center website from
the university that used our work without attribution clearly did not meet these criteria. To their
credit, they removed our unattributed material
on the same day that we reported it. However,
there is a basic level of trust that we feel has been
violated. The apparently widespread “
appropriation” of our words is deeply offensive.
Cet article est également
disponible en français
sur notre site web,
“ The copyists range from
a Grade 4 English teacher
to an academic at a
highly regarded Canadian
investments that go into projects ranging from
prison education to public-facing digital archives
to music and film festivals informed by feminist
theory. Faculty, staff and doctoral students across
our three campuses often identify as publicly
engaged scholars and, as importantly, there are
institutional structures of support and recognition for collaborative humanistic inquiry with
and for diverse publics.
While we do not have a PhD in public
humanities, we do have a certificate in public
scholarship, a course of study that can be pursued
in conjunction with a doctorate from a department (such as English or history). In fact, we
recently expanded our historic commitment to
public scholarship with the support of a new
grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation;
it is made up of three fellowship categories. One
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