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Classifying Student Scholarship at VIU

Academia embraced Ernest L. Boyer’s expanded definition of “Scholarship” (Scholarship Reconsidered, 1990) enfranchising disciplines, activities and projects with scholarly merit that was not traditionally rewarded by research culture. Since then, the standards for assessing scholarship have changed. Boyer’s concept gave scholarship a broader, more effective meaning and VIU embraces this transition. The four expansions are as follows: click on each link under Methods of Practice for further explanation and examples of real work done by VIU students.

Student projects may fall under a variety of categories; many will fit more than one classification. Below are examples of student projects which depict the character of the point they are assigned to, but many could also illustrate other aspects of Boyer’s scholarly activity.




Methods of Practice:





Investigative Research.

Traditional research. Advances knowledge in a field, points out knowledge yet to be acquired.




Putting Research into Perspective.

Fitting your research, or the research of others, into a larger concept or pattern. Educating non-specialists.




Pragmatically Applying Research.


Theory and practice interact to produce solutions. Applies research to problem solving in the world.




Building Bridges between Research & Understanding.

Provides a format for public sharing of knowledge, application and evaluation of others in teaching and learning positions.



Methods of Practice

Scholarship of Discovery: advances knowledge with original research.

Writing/Publishing; peer reviewed or otherwise

Students may have the opportunity to publish in a number of ways during their studies at VIU. Speak to a faculty member who is familiar with your work to learn about peer reviewed journals you may submit to, co-publishing opportunities with researchers, VIU Space or alternatively look into online resources for publication opportunities.

  • Ongoing VIU Projects: Liberal Studies students regularly publish their research in Agora, a peer reviewed undergraduate journal, where 3 VIU students have been awarded “best essay” for their work in 2010 & 2015.
  • 2014, VIU Project: A professor, Graduate and Undergraduate student from Tourism departments authored a federally funded and peer reviewed report on the state of Canada’s traditional craft trades sector, identifying gaps in training and employment within this area of the creative economy. 


Producing/Performing Creative Work

Students from a variety of disciplines regularly produce original, creative assignments/artistic creations (such as but not limited to: music, literature, movies and artwork). Showcasing or performing this work is considered a scholarly activity.

Presenting work at the CREATE Conference is an example of how VIU students deploy their ideas in the context of a broader audience. Portal Magazine, VIU Theatre Productions, The Navigator Newspaper and various musical performances are other ways of sharing creative work.

  • 2014, VIU Project: A student in Fine Arts brought his ceramic and screen printed art to the [N]ART Exhibition & Conference in Denver, Colorado. This student also did round table discussions on blogging and his experience within a niche art market.


Base for Continuing Studies

Creating infrastructure for future studies is a supportive scholarly activity. Building upon previous work is a fundamental characteristic of research. Any work done which can facilitate later studies is considered scholarly activity.

  • 2014, VIU Project: A second year biology student did preliminary studies on biogenic markers of algae and sea lice in marine waters, laying the foundation for AERL (Applied Environmental Research Labratories) researchers to develop underwater MIMS (Membrane Inspection Mass Spectrometry) systems capable of monitoring dissolved gases and organic molecules in coastal waters.
  • 2015, CREATE Presentation: A biology student tackled a problem that had never been identified; she measured bacteria which could aid further studies understand the changes taking place regionally based on flora measured there.


Scholarship of Integration: synthesizes information across disciplines, topics or time.

Critical Analysis

This involves viewing an event, phenomena or text through a critical lens. Critical lenses can be philosophical (theoretical), experiential, contextual, or specific.  Critical analysis illuminates a new viewpoint, or a new translation, of an existing topic or text by viewing it through a new lens.

  • 2014, VIU Project: A Political/Liberal Studies student conducted an investigation into the ‘Origin of Identity’ using the theoretical lenses provided by the philosophies of Erving Goffman and Hannah Arendt. 


Interpreting Research

Using existing research, scholarly activity can include evaluating data or reinterpreting studies already completed. New insight or recognizing connections not previously drawn between findings is an important aspect of scholarly activity.

  • 2014, CREATE Poster: A student examined the laws of copyright enforced by the Canadian legal system versus the traditional laws of copyright recognized by First Nations’ communities. This research explored the legitimacy of proprietorship and solutions aimed at returning property entitlements to their rightful owners.


Comprehensive Review

Compiling a comprehensive (all inclusive) survey of research done on a specific topic is serious research. Having all studies in one resource creates an irrefutable authority on any given subject. Further analysis may be done by the compiler or by other researchers using the compilation to make definitive assessments.

  • 2014, CREATE Presentation: One student did a comprehensive literature review of research completed on lessening the harmful effects of drug addiction for users. She then investigated how the BC Government was applying these methods and their outcomes.



Any work crossing the traditional departments and faculties within the academy is considered interdisciplinary. This can involve intentionally interdisciplinary projects where content overlaps or accidental revelations where another discipline is/has produced work that is pertinent to your/their thesis.

  • 2015, CREATE Presentation, Poster & Scholarship Slam: Students from Criminology, Sociology and Business worked with local after-school programs to develop a plan of action addressing the relationship between poverty and antisocial behaviour. Their interdisciplinary nature allowed this group to target criminal psychology, the social effects of identity, and the business application model of providing support for healthy change in youth (also Engagement & Teaching).



Scholarship of Engagement: applies disciplinary expertise to aid society.


Consulting with local businesses and organizations, using academic tools to create solutions for their problems and/or help with innovation is supported and considered a scholarly activity.

  • Ongoing VIU Projects: Businesses, governmental bodies and organizations regularly reach out to VIU students to consult their burgeoning expertise as well as their fresh creativity. Some projects include idea management tools and assessing the local and international market as well as projects concerning innovation and expansion.
  • 2015, VIU Project: An MBA Student assessed the feasibility of a local consulting firm, with offices in China, to construct student housing in Nanaimo to add to the services they currently supply.



Playing a leadership role within a community, business or organization, using academic resources to modernize or generally improve one or more facets of the whole, is a celebrated scholastic activity under this model.   

  • Ongoing VIU Projects: Again, businesses, governmental bodies and organizations regularly reach out to VIU students to play leadership roles within their communities. Internships can be an example of leadership as well as designing business strategies and helping implement them. Developing marketing plans and promotion strategies are some ways for VIU students to be engaged in. Applied leadership through academic means is scholarly engagement.
  • 2015, CREATE Poster Presentation: VIU Education students worked with 150 at-risk high school students helping them identify their areas of interest, and therefore aiding healthy life choices, using current research on the latest practices in teaching (also Teaching).



Using academic skills and knowledge to provide advice to community members is considered educational transference. Passing on, and engaging your skills and expertise acquired at school is applied scholastic activity.

  • Ongoing VIU projects: Local groups recognize the abundance of knowledge housed at VIU and the most resourceful of them put student advising to good use. Some examples of projects include research papers for City of Nanaimo, Tourism Nanaimo, Nanaimo Culture & Heritage and local businesses of all sorts, including hotels and managing firms. Groups routinely have students work on feasibility studies for them both locally and internationally; the parameters vary greatly. 
  • 2015, CREATE Presentation and Scholarship Slam: An International student used their first-hand knowledge to identify specific experiences of tourists from a select region of the world. This assisted the City of Nanaimo in branding culturally-specific tourism (also Integration).


Scholarship of Teaching: provides a format for sharing and evaluating education.

Analyzing Learning Theory

Reassessing how knowledge is transferred, what the best methods are, and inquiring into the theory of education is a scholastic activity in and of itself. This research can be applied (experiential) or conceptual in nature.

  • 2014, CREATE Presentation: A Jazz student explored the efficacy of an avant-garde method of education introduced in the sixties and compared it with contemporary music education research. Similarities were identified between the methods and current pedagogical philosophies were used to reveal why the earlier theory is still relevant today (also Integration).


Producing Instructional Materials

Creating educational materials or tools for instruction is considered a fundamental scholarly activity. These materials may be used as part of a program (such as books or videos etc.) or may involve direct education, or providing materials for the purpose of directly informing others (like pamphlets or public online resources).

  • 2015, Presentation: A student weighed the effects of the latest research in fitness training against traditional models using VIU athletes as subjects of study. The outcomes were recorded and presented, aiding VIU trainers and trainees as well as advancing evidence in the field (also Discovery & Engagement).



Playing the role of mediator, or mentor, within the educational process is knowledge transfer and is a key factor in academic activity. Under Boyer’s model, using your skills to facilitate the mentorship of others is academic and is respected as integral to scholarly activity.

  • 2014, CREATE Poster: Students examined the dwindling use, and educational goals to revive the use of, Hul’q’umi’num’ and Ditidaht languages on Vancouver Island. They explored the effectiveness of current strategies providing feedback for facilitators (also Engagement).


Designing Program

Designing methods of practice in learning (such as a training regime of any sort) is an educational academic activity. Any benefit to teaching and learning is definitively scholastic in nature and constitutes a facet of research.

  • 2014, Poster: Two Nursing students explored using music to reduce agitation in Alzheimer’s patients. One looked at the effects of implementation on patients while the other examined how best to train caregivers in the use of this method (also Engagement).


Assessing a System or Program

Testing an educational system, or method, currently being used is a scholarly means to promote improvement in learning and is recognizably research. 

  • 2014, CREATE Presentation: A Child and Youth Care (CYC) Student assessed the Peer Mentorship Program in her discipline. Through focus groups and online surveys, her research aimed to identify and assess pitfalls and best practices. The results were presented to CYC faculty in order to further develop a strong program.