Let me share some tidbits with you about the journal:
First, we've created a new online submission management system that brings the journal's editorial procedures into the twenty-first century. We're using an excellent freeware known as Open Journal Systems. This new system will speed up the review process and help the journal get a better sense of who's submitting manuscripts, the acceptance rates, etc. It's very easy to use — just visit the site and register. We're always interested in top-notch material on teaching philosophy. Here are the criteria by which manuscripts are evaluated:
Submitted manuscripts are evaluated on the following basis:And of course, no journal can function without competent reviewers. So if you're interested in reviewing manuscripts, let me know or go ahead and register at the new site.
1. Argument/evidence: Has the author shown that the main claims or recommendations of the manuscript are correct or plausible?
2. Usefulness to instructors: Would readers of the manuscript be able to make use of its claims or recommendations in their own teaching or instructional duties?
3. Use of relevant scholarship: Has the author taken due account of the extant literature on his or her subject, either within the literature on teaching and learning within philosophy or within more general bodies of literature on teaching and learning?
4. Organization: Is the manuscript readable, logical, and coherently organized, both as a whole and within its parts?
5. Expression: Is the manuscript written in an engaging, accessible, and lucid style?
Second, Teaching Philosophy depends on subscription revenue in order to exist. That said, the journal is a terrific bargain (subscription info here): print subscriptions for individuals are only $33/year, and APA members can get an annual online subscription for $40. Members of the American Association of Philosophy Teachers receive free online access with their membership. Institutional subscriptions range from $86 to $234/year. I've had people tell me that departments often buy their own subscriptions and leave the issues in a lounge or office where people pick them up and browse. If you'd like to get a sense of what the journal publishes, here's a page with free access to a half dozen or so of our 'greatest hits' from the past.
Lastly, one of my aspirations as editor is to improve the overall scholarly quality of the articles we publish, and in so doing, foster a climate within philosophy that recognizes and rewards bona fide scholarship related to teaching and learning. The excerpt below comes from my application letter to the journal's editorial board and conveys what I have in mind.
In any event, I hope that ISW readers will check out the journal and become involved as a subscriber, author, and/or reviewer.TP is undoubtedly the best-known and most well-regarded journal devoted to the pedagogy of philosophy in the English-speaking philosophical community. Philosophers working in the scholarship of teaching and learning will find no better venue through which to disseminate their research.
Nevertheless, a review of the materials recently published in TP (2006-2010) suggests that the journal could serve as a more powerful catalyst for pedagogical innovation and improvement. The articles published during this period have tended to focus on:· Innovations in philosophy course content (novel topics, figures, use of popular culture)· Methods for teaching core philosophical skills (philosophical writing, logic, argumentation, critical thinking)· Distinctive approaches to classical texts or problems (Plato’s Euthyphro, the Socratic method, nature of religious belief and commitment)· Effective uses of pedagogical technology (software, learning management system tools, clickers and polling)· Ethics of teaching (plagiarism, grading)
Furthermore, the published articles typically approach teaching-related challenges in ways that reflect the intellectual dispositions characteristic of philosophy. They tend to begin with instructors’ firsthand observations about particular problems faced in the philosophy classroom; describe techniques instructors selected to address such problems; and rest the credibility of these techniques on instructor testimony of their effectiveness. In short, much of what is published in TP is applied a priori epistemology, scholarly efforts to improve teaching practice rooted in a picture of philosophy as a knowledge-building craft.
Such scholarship has definite merit and should always have a place in TP. Because it begins with problems the journal’s readership is already familiar with, it is likely to be perceived as relevant and authentic. However, such scholarship also has clear limitations and does not reflect the current state of scholarship on teaching and learning outside philosophy. First, only a handful of articles published in TP are substantially informed by the growing and increasingly sophisticated literature within the science of learning. As such, many TP articles falsely imply that the problems they address must be addressed ex nihilo, as if there were no previous scholarly investigation of them. Second, readers are expected to accept the articles’ practical recommendations despite the absence of empirical evidence that the techniques or approaches described therein are effective. Indeed, few articles in TP provide such empirical corroboration or even offer a baseline of student learning or achievement against which that effectiveness might be measured.
Several exceptions aside, the work published in TP is often theoretically underinformed, evidentially questionable, and methodologically unsophisticated. This is not, in my estimation, a failing on the part of TP’s editorial leadership, its reviewers, etc. Rather, it reflects the relative immaturity of the scholarship of teaching and learning within our discipline. A casual perusal of other venues for scholarly work on the pedagogy of philosophy (the APA Newsletter on Teaching Philosophy, the American Philosophical Association’s teaching-related sessions at its divisional meetings, the programs for the annual meetings of the American Association of Philosophy Teachers) confirms that, particularly in comparison with disciplines such as sociology, chemistry, or mathematics, empirically-informed scholarship of teaching and learning is nascent within philosophy rather than being fully established. Paul Witman and Laurie Richlin (“The Status of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in the Disciplines,” International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 1.1 (2007), http://www.georgiasouthern.edu/ijsotl) note that despite philosophy’s long history within the academy, it does not have a strong tradition of analytically informed teaching-related scholarship. Indeed, their remarks about the state of teaching-related literature applies to philosophy and to the scholarly work published in TP:
the bulk of articles published about teaching still fall into the category of “teaching tips,” advice provided based on personal experience: “This is what I did and everyone liked it.” This is not to say that the advice is not useful - it could be - but there is no way to know whether it is or not.
TP can only publish work that is submitted to it, and unsurprisingly, little of that work satisfies the highest standards of bona fide scholarship on teaching and learning.
My vision for the journal is therefore to guide it toward being a genuinely scholarly venue, one in which sufficient context, evidence, and explanation are provided for authors’ conclusions. This is not to say that, under my leadership, only empirically-oriented work would appear in TP. Witman and Richlin’s dismissal of “teaching tips” aside, there should always be a place for teaching-related scholarship that highlights how instructors’ local knowledge of their teaching craft can lead to useful interventions in the learning process. Yet the success of philosophy as a discipline is deeply intertwined with its teaching function, and at a time when the humanities, and academic philosophy especially, are being asked to justify themselves to a broader public, it is vitally important that the discipline’s flagship journal on pedagogy showcase the discipline’s commitment not simply to teaching but to the evidence-based improvement of our teaching practices. TP should ultimately aim to publish scholarship on teaching that answers to the same rigorous, peer-reviewed standards that apply to philosophical scholarship generally.