Skip to content

Making Decisions: A Conversation About Balancing Teaching, Scholarship and Service

Making Decisions:  A Conversation About Balancing Teaching, Scholarship and Service

New Faculty Orientation (NFO) Session 

February, 25, 2021 

Prompts for Discussion in Breakout Rooms:

First Breakout Room Session (15 minutes)

  1. Share one tip or strategy you have used to attempt to strike a balance between teaching, scholarship, and service. (These can range from significant changes to the way you make decisions and structure your work day to very small, incremental changes.) Enter your tip at the end of this document.  
  2. How have your experiences and challenges faced over the past year helped reshape how you approach balance in teaching, scholarship, and service? Are there changes you have made to your work life that you might keep moving forward (i.e., post-pandemic)?  

Second Breakout Room Session (10 minutes) 

  1. For ~5 minutes, reflect on what decisions and opportunities (in teaching, scholarship, and/or service) you have been presented with this semester. Based on our conversation today, how do you plan to handle these decisions? Is there anything you can take off of your plate to make time for another opportunity that you’d like to pursue? Share your reflections with your group.   

Tips and Strategies to Balance Teaching, Scholarship, and Service (from Prompt 1): 


  1. Create very granular scheduling for when to do specific class-related tasks. These can often be anticipated (weekly assignments, etc.), and I find that scheduling them in specifically makes it easier to not run over time, which leaves more time for scholarship and service.
  2. Use Canvas to your advantage: the more you organize your material on Canvas the first time you teach a course, the less time you will spend doing that the second time, and so forth. Same thing with testing: learning how to create quizzes on Canvas saves a lot of time when you’re grading if you use multiple choice, fill the blanks, true/false kind of activities. All these tests can be recycled for future classes (even adapted, changed, but the shell is there) and that’s helped me a lot.
  3. Set aside specific times to work on course prep related tasks each day and separate time/days when service/scholarship work is done. 
  4. Setting expectations early on for how long grading will take, helps you avoid overloading yourself, and helps to avoid students becoming upset about not seeing grades immediately.


  1. Add time to work on scholarship into your calendar and protect that time like you would protect time set aside for a class or meeting. 
  2. Find a co-author and/or collaborate with others on-campus on research projects. 

Service and Overall Balance

  1. Prioritize saying yes to tasks that you will enjoy or believe align with your strengths/tool kit as a scholar.
  2. Think not just about the time something will take, but about how much emotional energy it will require. Will it give you energy, or sap it?
  3. Take a longer view of what you need to do – try to balance teaching, professional activity, and service over years. Don’t try to do all of it all the time.  Focus on two in one year, and two others the next.
  4. Each time you add something to your plate, try to take something else off of your plate. 
  5. When deciding whether or not to pursue a particular opportunity, consider whether or not it will advance you toward your broader teaching, scholarship or service goals.  

Resources on Achieving Teaching, Scholarship, and Service Balance: 

  1. This article acknowledges the impact that taking on too much service as a pre-tenure faculty member can have on one’s professional goals and well-being. The author presents some strategies for how to say no and how to make decisions, especially about service opportunities.
  2. This article provides several strategies for making writing progress as a pre-tenure faculty member. 
  3. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (Newport, 2016) Newport’s proposed approach to productivity involves a drastic reduction of distractions, technology, email, etc. that might not be feasible for many people. With that said, there are some helpful tips and strategies presented by Newport to find time for scholarly work (e.g., time blocking, managing email and technology). 
  4. Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks:  A Guide to Academic Publishing Success (Belcher, 2019). Provides a systematic process to publishing in academia.  
  5. There is a Writing Group on campus to help facilitate scholarship productivity. We meet for Virtual Writing Retreats every 2 weeks. Dates are announced via email at the beginning of each semester. 
  6. Articles specific to COVID-19: 
  7. (This Inside Higher Ed article discusses the increasing service burden the women and BIPOC faculty have taken on during COVID.) (This Chronicle of Higher Education article discusses the increasing rates of burnout among faculty during COVID.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *