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Teaching vs. Research: A WGU-Style Promotion of the Instructional Role

American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting,


This study of the Western Governors University (WGU) suggests that its instructional model, based on distance education, could increase the value of teaching relative to research. The WGU model envisions a "disaggregated faculty," that is, one in which faculty roles typically discharged by a single individual are delegated and outsourced to various specialists; curriculum development is assigned to program councils composed of outside experts; student assessment is assigned to other councils; advising is done by the WGU staff; and teaching of subject matter is done by instructors employed by approved educational providers. Using a model limited to distance education, this concept values teaching, rather than research or service, and functions with minimal governance. The study suggests three reasons why the WGU model might result in teaching challenging the domination of research: (1) it offers institutions low in the traditional academic hierarchy an opportunity to develop a strong national reputation based on teaching alone; (2) it offers individual faculty members external validation of their teaching activities, thus enhancing their employment opportunities; and (3) it creates opportunities for an entrepreneurial teaching faculty. While the study notes that enrollment in WGU programs has not met expectations thus far, it concludes that the WGU model offers a new way of thinking about the future of higher education. (RAB)


Kinser, K. (2000). Teaching vs. Research: A WGU-Style Promotion of the Instructional Role. Presented at American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting 2000. Retrieved June 5, 2020 from .

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