The SoTL Advocate

Supporting efforts to make public the reflection and study of teaching and learning at Illinois State University and beyond…

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Roadblocks, opportunities, and a call for blog contributors across three topics

Written by Jennifer Friberg, Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL and Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders at Illinois State University

In informal conversations with friends and colleagues, I’ve heard from many that writing a blog post is a scary proposition, for what are very understandable reasons. Authoring a blog is new to many, represents a different form of writing, and are not (typically) recognized in most disciplines as a scholarly artifact. Folks have asked me why they should take on the work of writing a blog in the face of the challenges they perceive. My response? At their core, blogs represent a way to broaden the audience who knows about the work that you’re doing. Think about the narrowness with which our scholarly work is typically shared. We publish in journals and present at conferences with other people who do similar work to what we do. There’s tremendous value in that. However, looking beyond our expected professional audiences, publishing blog posts allows for an easy crossing of disciplinary, institutional, and/or social borders to engage more and different stakeholders in your work. There’s tremendous value in that form of publishing, too. That said, I’m biased. I really enjoy blogging and find it to be incredibly enriching both personally and professionally.

From my experiences as a co-creator, frequent contributor, and current editor of this blog, I want to offer two thoughts for your consideration. One focuses on the biggest roadblock to contributing to a blog (shared anecdotally with me by many) while the other focuses on the biggest opportunity.

  • Roadblock? It seems as though the most difficult thing for contributors to find is their “blog voice.” Ideally, blogs are accessible, jargon-free, and provide a high level summary of a process, idea, or project. I usually tell people that writing a blog is not like writing a paper for peer review. Instead, it’s like writing a letter to folks who have different experiences, priorities, or levels of understanding of your topic than you might. I firmly believe that while it may be initially challenging to develop a less regimented style of professional communication, engaging new audiences with your work makes it a worthy endeavor. How do you overcome this roadblock? Read the blog(s) you wish to write for. Examine the tone, format, and general feel of the already published posts to inform your choices as a potential blog contributor.
  • Opportunity! I wrote recently about purposeful amplification of SoTL work being a major conference theme at #ISSOTL19. One of the ideas I reported on in that blog came from a session presented by Lockhart and Wuetherick (citation below), who discussed planning for the eventual impact of your work when you engage in initial planning of a SoTL project. Writing a blog post tied to your SoTL work is an excellent way of planning for impact. And, while impact can mean a variety of things (e.g., impact across an institution, a discipline, across disciplines, in the public space), the bottom line is that if more and different people are exposed to your work, the greater the chance at increasing its impact. This blog, for example, has had over 12,000 views in over three dozen countries this year alone. Trust me when I say that a broader audience exists for your work. Blogging can help you access that audience.

The information shared above is not coincidental! I share it because I am seeking to represent the voices of more and different SoTL stakeholders on this blog. There are several topics I’d like to propose as a foundation for potential contributors to build upon:

What DOESN’T work? We routinely talk about, publish, and present information related to what does work in our SoTL. Rarely (almost never, actually) do we talk about what didn’t work well at all. There’s value in sharing reflections on things we wish we had done differently, outcomes that weren’t positive, or lessons we have learned from errors made in the process of SoTLing. There’s no shame in learning and growing, and that’s what happens when things just don’t work. Consider sharing those experiences!

What am I reading? Share a link to a site, blog, article, book…anything you’re reading. Create a blog post that briefly summarizes the subject of your reading and share how it can be used/applied in a learning context. Or, share how you/your practice as a teacher or learner evolved as a result of that reading. Another option might be to speak to how you’ve shared or translated that work to other stakeholder groups of personal or professional interest. There is SO MUCH out there to digest that isn’t brought to a wide audience. This call is a chance to make that happen!

Topic of your choice! What are you thinking about in terms of SoTL? Power, voice, partnerships, outcomes, roadblocks, methods, community… Chances are, SoTL Advocate readers would like to hear more! Summarize a project you’ve completed. Give us a think-aloud (okay…write-aloud) about how you plan a SoTL project. Talk about how you’ve developed SoTl networks or provide examples of SoTL advocacy. The only restriction on topic is that needs to relate to SoTL. From there, the sky is the limit!

Please consider contributing a blog post. Share the opportunity with others, and please feel free to contact me ( with questions or to brainstorm ideas or thoughts that might become a future blog topic!

Blog references

Lockhart, W. & Wuetherick, B. (2019). Using SoTL to advance institutional change: Exploring student success in foundational courses. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

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SoTL as Public Scholarship: Call for Chapter Proposals

Shared by: Nancy Chick & Jennifer Friberg, Project Editors     

Proposals due Dec 15, 2019

The ISSOTL19 conference theme, “SoTL Without Borders: Engaged Practices for Social Change,” was a field-changer that foregrounded intentional conversations that have only popped up here and there at previous conferences.   It challenged some to view SoTL in new ways, and invited others to bring their backstage SoTL goals into the spotlight. This moment helped us more fully consider SoTL’s potential to effect change. The conference ended with a closing plenary that called for an amplification of the field by exploring how we might conceive of “SoTL as Public Scholarship,” how we might extend its purpose toward advocacy, its audiences toward a broader public, its products toward more public forms of communication, and its influence beyond courses and academic programs.

ISSOTL19 participants left Atlanta committed to continuing the conversation and, more importantly, making things happen.  ISSOTL is “building on the ideas and optimism” of the conference by sponsoring a new “public SoTL” model of its International Collaborative Writing Groups (see here) to support the development and capacity for this work among SoTL practitioners and supporters. 

We are also eager to “build on the ideas and optimism shared in Atlanta” by more fully articulating the vision of SoTL as public scholarship.  We are editing a book under contract with Stylus Publishing to feature innovative, forward-thinking, field-amplifying work that guides SoTL in its potential for reaching “the public.”  

We here call for proposals for two key chapters in SoTL as Public ScholarshipSee below for the description of each.

  1. SoTL and traditional media:  Though platforms such as weblogs and social media are used to publicly share various aspects of SoTL, it is unknown to what extent SoTL scholars are using more traditional media such as radio, newspapers, magazines, or television to share work publicly.  These are among the most public-facing ways of reaching a large, non-academic audience, yet they are also among the most challenging for SoTL scholars. We seek proposals for a thoughtful and useful chapter that both address the significance of this type of media for SoTL and guide readers in communicating through these less familiar venues.  The chapter will be 4,000 words.
  2. The international contexts of SoTL in considering the influence of geography, culture, and politics in public sharing: While this project might appear to presume that public scholarship is accessible to all potential stakeholders equally, we acknowledge that is likely untrue. Various social media platforms are inaccessible to citizens in certain countries, and some socio-cultural practices and political influences also impact how scholarship can be made public. This chapter will explore ways in which public factors such as these might impact the work of creating SoTL as public scholarship. The chapter will be 4,000 words.

750-word proposals are due on December 15. Please include CVs with relevant experiences highlighted for all authors.  Submit materials to both editors at  &

The first full drafts of these two chapters will be due by April 1, 2020.  The timeline for the book’s publication process is as follows:

  • Early April, 2020: Feedback on first drafts
  • June 1: Final drafts due
  • July 1: Manuscript submitted to Stylus
  • February 2021: Book publication

Share this CFP with this shortened URL:

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Hot off the presses: Gauisus, Volume 7

Gauisus is the internal, peer-reviewed scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) publication at Illinois State University (ISU). Each published volume (except the first, which was published in pdf and print formats) are multi-media publications which contain varied representations of SoTL work. Representations may be scholarly papers or notes, online posters, videos, wikis or blogs and so on. The seventh volume of Gauisus was published this week, featuring four works by ISU faculty engaged in SoTL work. Abstracts are copied here, with links to each work:

Transition to Standards-Based Grading: Six Steps to Implement Badging in College Courses
Mandy White • Department of Special Education
Tara Kaczorowski • Department of Special Education
Robyn Seglem • School of Teaching and Learning

Traditional university courses assign points, which translate into letter grades, but those points earned do not always reflect the mastery of the intended learning outcomes for the course.  This becomes problematic because students seem more concerned about points and grades rather than learning. We transitioned to Standards-Based Grading over several semesters and identified six steps for implementing badging in college courses: (a) familiarize and redefine course outcomes, (b) evaluate and align assignments and activities, (c) create rubrics, (d) establish a recording system for badges, (e) initiate the communication cycle, and (f) define final course grades.

Perspectives of Non-Tenured Track Faculty Members and Doctoral Students Included in Mentorship and Professional Development
Allison Kroesch • Department of Special Education
Yojanna Cuenca-Carlino • Department of Special Education
Luminita Hartle • Department of Special Education
Sara Porter • Department of Special Education
Lauralyn Randles • Department of Special Education
Samuel Whitley • Department of Special Education
Mandy White • Department of Special Education
Adrianne Locke • Department of Special Education
Jamillah Gilbert • Department of Special Education
Ashley Wolinski-Norton • Department of Special Education
Krystal Lewis-Pratt • Department of Special Education

Non-tenured track faculty (NTTF) members and doctoral students (DS) often do not have the same opportunities to collaborate and participate in professional development with a variety of tenured-track faculty (TTF) members within a department. To increase collaboration, an Associate Professor in the Department of Special Education at Illinois State designed and implemented the GROWTH Mentoring Program. This program, in its fourth semester of implementation, encourages teams of faculty members (NTTF, TTF, and DS) to reflect on taught lessons with a peer, learn from various workshops, and participate in organized writing days. The purpose of this manuscript is to share the perspectives of the benefits and challenges of this mentorship program through the lenses of NTTF and DS who have participated in the program for the past year.

The Role of Universities in Workforce Development
Jennifer Peterson, Ph.D. • Department of Health Sciences
The purpose of higher education in the United States has been an issue of much debate.  Although higher education was originally developed as a method of producing upstanding young men for society, in recent years, many have argued that higher education should be preparing young adults for careers and jobs needed for a successful economy.  Traditionally, workforce development education has been the in the realm of community colleges.  However, as the price of education has increased, the demand for more highly educated workers has increased, and the value of higher education has been questioned, many feel that all levels of higher education should focus on workforce development.  This article identifies four major themes from the literature in this area, discusses current mental models that prevent universities from entering the workforce development realm, and provides recommendations for needed investigation and change if universities are to play an active role in workforce development.

Outcomes from a SoTL Certificate Program for Graduate Students
Jennifer Friberg, Ed.D. • Cross Endowed Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
This power point set was presented at the 2019 meeting of EuroSoTL in Bilbao, Spain, and describes data collected from the first three cohorts of students to complete the Certificate of Specialized Instruction in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CSI-SoTL) at Illinois State University. These slides describe the genesis of the CSI-SoTL program, the annual timeline for student participants, and explores data collected from the first two cohorts of enrollees. Overwhelmingly, CSI-SoTL student participants indicated that the program enhanced their interest and understanding of SoTL, provided an enhanced view of professional opportunities post-degree completion, and helped them to better understand research as a whole. Implications for future iterations of the CSI-SoTL program are presented, as well.

The purposes of Gauisus are the following: 1) to provide instructors writing about their teaching and learning a local but peer reviewed outlet to share what they and their students have done and learned and 2) to offer other instructors and students an accessible publication to read to obtain a sense of, and learn from, some of the scholarly teaching and SoTL projects conducted by their colleagues on our campus.

The name of the volume, Gauisus: Selected scholarship on teaching and learning at Illinois State University, stems from a “name the publication” contest in 2008. Pete Juvinall’s entry was chosen. Gauisus means glad, gladly, or joyful in Latin, as in the Illinois State motto/logo, “Gladly we learn and teach.” Reviewers are volunteers from ISU, and sometimes beyond, who must apply and are selected based on their experience with SoTL and reviewing scholarly work.

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Creating Visually Accessible Presentations

Written by Jennifer Friberg, Cross Endowed Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders at Illinois State University (contact email:

It’s fairly well acknowledged that for SoTL to be SoTL, is needs to be shared in some form or fashion…and I use the term “shared” here with a broad vision (e.g, writing a blog, publication in a peer-reviewed outlet, conference presentation, completion of a creative endeavor, etc). That said, it’s not whether SoTL is shared that is the topic of today’s blog, rather, it’s HOW it is shared.

I have spent 20+ years as a speech-language pathologist, seeking to make various forms of communication accessible and valued for the clients I served. I’ve brought some of this disciplinary perspective to my work as a scholar who presents at conferences fairly regularly. For instance, I am very cognizant of the need for speaker voices to be amplified for folks to hear and process content effectively. I am sensitive to cultural differences in how language is used, and I know well that perspective and world experience influence how any message is comprehended. But there is more to access than this. Flash forward to ISSOTL last month in Atlanta, Georgia.

It was almost uncanny that four different conversations with four very different people at ISSOTL touched on — in some way — a need to think carefully about visual accessibility when planning conference presentations. As someone who likes graphics and color in my power point slides (when I use them!), I hadn’t before considered much other than having good contrast and easy (to me) ability to view slide content. I hadn’t considered how color choices might impact those with varied forms of colorblindness, low-vision, or other visual impairments. In reflecting on these conference conversations, it became clear that I needed to be more aware. It’s a case of “you don’t know what you don’t know…but when you know it, you have to make change.” With this in mind, I offer today’s blog with humility and a sense of purpose to improve my own efforts in the future. This blog is not expert testimony, but rather a way to share resources that have emerged from my dive into this topic since returning home.

  • Designing PowerPoint slides for Color Blindness: There are many different resources online for designing slides that individuals with various forms of colorblindness can most easily access. Of the many that I looked at, Robin Collinge’s blog post titled “How to Design for Colorblindness” was one of my favorites, sharing tips for ALL design, not just presentation slides. The blog post features several easy to implement ideas for good design AND provides a list of color combinations to avoid in order to increase the visual accessibility of your materials.
  • Microsoft Power Point offers something called an “accessibility checker,” which looks over presentation slides and suggests edits for visual accessibility (click link for usage instructions). I ran a recent PowerPoint of my own through the checker and found the feedback provided to be fascinating (image below for an example). Primarily, it was suggested that I use speaker notes and other text boxes to think about providing alternative text to explain graphics and other visual content (these annotations can be shared with those requesting them ahead of or after a presentation). Instructions for how to make my slides more accessible were provided in easy-to-follow format. Google has similar tools, to support its platform, as well.

  • This Microsoft Office reference lists in table form the types of behaviors most accessibility checkers attempt to identify, with a clear description and fix for each. It’s a good and informative read.
  • California’s Department of Rehabilitation’s division of Disability Access Services has an excellent publication called “Seven Steps to Creating an Accessible PowerPoint Slideshow” which provides a bounty of great ideas to increase the accessibility of your work.

Again, I am nowhere near being an expert on the topic of visual accessibility. Many of you may have other, better resources that might be of help to others exploring this topic…if that’s the case, I’d love for you to share them below in the comments section below.

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Purposeful Amplification

Written by Jennifer Friberg, Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL and Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders at Illinois State University

I’ve been back from the 2019 ISSOTL conference for a little over a week…and I’m *still* processing all that happened in Atlanta. There was a richness to this conference that was so very pleasing and I found that I was inspired by so many of the people I spoke with. I returned to Normal (that’s really the name of my institution’s town!) thinking about connections between formal sessions and informal conversations with colleagues and friends. There are many to be made, but one stands out quite prominently: we need to be purposeful in how we amplify our collective efforts in the SoTL community. While I could pick a number of conference moments to highlight to illustrate this notion, I have four that I’d like to focus on in this short blog post, as I feel they set the stage for the point I’m seeking to make. Questions/thoughts raised in my mind by each are asked in italics:

  1. The ISSOTL Advocacy and Outreach (A&O) committee sponsored a panel at the conference on the topic of “Grand Challenges” for SoTL, following the model some might be familiar with from the discipline of engineering. Grand Challenges are seen as wicked problems that define areas of need/focus for a discipline to move forward. Lauren Scharff (U.S. Air Force Academy) presented an overview of her analysis of data (collected over two years) from this project and identified several Grand Challenges specific to SoTL. One of three challenges identified was termed “challenges to SoTL as an enterprise,” and focused on the perceived lack of value/support for SoTL, questions of SoTL’s rigor, and questions about who is/should be engaged in this work. Essentially, data indicated that one of the major challenges facing those engaged in SoTL remains a need for advocacy for this type of scholarship — and for SoTL scholars, themselves.
  2. As part of an intriguing and thought-provoking panel, Lindsay Doukopoulos, Peter Felten, Mays Imad, and Huang Hoon Chng led a discussion focused on the importance of backstage conversations in SoTL as a mechanism for advocacy, engagement, and deriving forward momentum to realize progress (in whatever form or fashion). Backstage conversations help to develop networks that bring important work to the front (or public) stage, where broader impact for SoTL might be felt. Might we consider formal and informal encounters at and around ISSOTL each year to be one form of a backstage conversation? Are we networking together (and well!), but failing to move beyond our immediate social networks of SoTLists to advance our work? If so, what might we constitute as the front stage?
  3. In their presentation titled “Using SoTL to Advance Institutional Change: Exploring Student Success in Foundational Courses,” Wallace Lockhart and Brad Wuetherick shared their SoTL Impact Framework (at the time of the conference, this was in near-final draft status). This framework asked those in attendance to consider the potential impact of a SoTL project as part of its planning through the establishment of impact goals (why are you doing this project?), impact actions (what actions will you take to achieve your impact goals?), and impact results (how will you know if you have achieved your intended impact?). How might the discipline of SoTL change if we collectively considered impact planning as an integral part of disseminating our work? What types of impact are we seeking?
  4. Nancy Chick’s closing keynote strongly advocated for those engaged in SoTL to consider sharing work through more public forms of scholarship (e.g., social media, blogs, white papers). She challenged those in attendance to create a broader impact for their work by taking something that matters to individuals or small groups (your own SoTL work) and making it matter to others beyond the immediate SoTL community. How might the profile of SoTL grow in value if we worked purposeful together to accomplish this?

My take aways from these conference moments? Nancy Chick identified a new path for our our consideration in her conference keynote. The sessions I attended and conversations I had with colleagues in Atlanta strongly backed up her call to truly make our SoTL work public. SoTL advocacy work is still clearly needed. That work needs to move from the SoTL backstage to a more public front stage to purposefully amplify our SoTL work/findings/efforts. We, as a community of scholars, can plan systematically for this to happen. In doing so, we have the capacity to grow the SoTL in terms of value perceptions, stakeholder engagement, and broader societal impact.

Blog References:

Chick, N. (2019). SoTL as public scholarship. Keynote presented at the annual meeting of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Doukoplulos, L. M., Felten, P., Imad, M., & Chng, H. H. (2019). Cultivating backstage conversations in SoTL. Panel presented at the annual meeting of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Lockhart, W. & Wuetherick, B. (2019). Using SoTL to advance institutional change: Exploring student success in foundational courses. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Scharff, L., Draeger, J., Ahmad, A., Friberg, J., Hamshire, C., & Maurer, T. (2019). Grand challenges for the scholarship of teaching and learning, phase II. Panel presented at the annual meeting of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

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Announcing the publication of Applying the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning edited by Friberg and McKinney

Written by Kathleen McKinney, Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL, Emeritus, Illinois State University

We have argued for some time that the findings and implications of SoTL work are insufficiently applied—beyond, and sometimes within, their original context–to other students, audiences/stakeholders, courses/modules, programs, disciplines, institutions, and so on. This volume provides representation of some efforts to make this leap of application to other and broader contexts. Of course, a book about the application of SoTL findings and implications to different and broader contexts is also a book about SoTL advocacy. Using SoTL in these ways to enhance teaching and learning increases awareness of SoTL, and promotes SoTL and what it can do for our students and institutions.

In this edited volume we explore scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) ‘projects’ and the applications of what is learned via those projects to levels beyond the individual classroom. In our Introduction, we discuss our SLaM framework about the application of SoTL including the Sources of SoTL findings and implications for application, the Levels at which SoTL results and implications can be applied, and the institutional and disciplinary Mechanisms which can be used to apply SoTL findings and implications. In addition, we offer concrete, specific examples of SoTL reflection/studies and applications providing lessons learned or suggestions for others. These examples include two brief illustrations from our institution and nine others in contributed chapters from authors at many institutions. Finally, Pat Hutchings wraps things up with a concise and thoughtful Conclusion.

This book is unusual in its truly international character with contributors from five nations (Australia, Belgium, Canada, Singapore, United States). It is also intentionally diverse in terms of emphasis on the SoTL project vs. the applications; foci of the SoTL project and applications; strategies for obtaining, and the nature of, evidence; the types of sources, levels and mechanisms of application; institutional culture; views of SoTL; and writing styles. Finally, our contributors represent numerous disciplines including business, communication, education/learning studies, English, faculty/educational development, family studies/human development, health sciences, informatics, philosophy, psychology, student support, and social work.

As discussed in the Introduction, our SoTL tent for this volume is quite expansive. Readers may even disagree whether some of the efforts to obtain evidence on teaching and learning for application as presented in this volume are, in fact, SoTL. This, we hope, will make for interesting conversations and collaborations, and encourage additional work with our SLaM model, and SoTL reflection/studies and applications around the globe.

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Walking Interviews in My Undergraduate Research

Written by Megan Herdt,recent Elon University graduate and current graduate student in the counseling psychology doctoral program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

As an undergraduate psychology student at Elon University, I performed a qualitative study with ten low-income students using sedentary and walking semi-structured interviews. My study was a strengths-based exploration of the ways in which my participants navigated through their mostly white, mostly affluent institution. My participants were first-generation and continuing generation students that identified as black, biracial, Latinx, Hispanic, and white. They also varied by affiliation with scholarship cohorts, gender, religiosity, sexuality, and year in school. I conducted one round of sedentary semi-structured interviews that focused on participants’ applications and acceptances to college, transitions to college, experiences while at college, and the influences of their identity dimensions on their experiences. In the next academic semester, I performed walking interviews with participants. Each participant brought me to between three and five places that played significant roles in their college experiences. The walking interviews focused on sense of belonging, development, and the salience and influence of participants’ identity dimensions.

My findings included various strategies that participants developed to help them navigate through their institution. These strategies and approaches include striving for authenticity, expanding one’s analysis of social categories, and becoming a social justice advocate. I also developed a list of suggestions that the university can implement to bridge the sociocultural incongruities between itself and its low-income and other minoritized students (Devlin, 2013).

As both a researcher and as a fellow student who shared the campus and many student experiences with my participants, I became a participant-observer during the walking interviews. My experiences as a student influenced my perceptions of and way of being in the places that participants brought me to, as well as the ways in which I asked interview questions and the ways in which I moved through participants’ interview guides. The flexibility of semi-structured interviewing gave me freedom to adapt my interviews, so I was able to respond to spontaneous conversations that naturally emerged as I strolled through my campus with my peers. Throughout the research process, I critically reflected on my positionality as both a researcher and a student and the influences of my positionality on my data collection and analysis — I took detailed field notes containing summary, analysis, and reflection within twenty-four hours of each interview.

Many strategic uses of place emerged through the walking interviews as participants brought me to the following types of places:

  • academic buildings that housed participants’ majors
  • racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious identity organizations
  • scholarship offices
  • outdoor on-campus locations such as lakes, fountains, benches, and even specific trees
  • on-campus residence halls.

These strategic uses of place often revolved around the mentoring relationships that participants had developed from people in specific locations. Academic buildings and support from the professors within enhanced participants’ academic, scholarly, and student identities. For example, one participant called her academic major building “a fortress that has no little gate, nothing out there that can change who I am as a person…while I’m here I make it so I don’t think about any of that stuff and I only focus on what I need to be focusing on and going to professors.” The racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious organizations that participants belong to, along with the friends, peers, and staff affiliated with those organizations, fostered participants’ development related to that specific dimension of identity. From the time another participant spent in a campus-designated space for Hispanic students with his friend group, he learned to integrate his “real self with being Hispanic and being a [university] student…We aren’t just [university] students and we aren’t just Hispanic. We’re Hispanic, [university] students.” Scholarship offices, cohorts, and affiliated staff were tremendous forms of support for participants receiving those scholarships. Many participants who were affiliated with scholarship programs described those program spaces, along with their staff and peers, as places and people that provided complete acceptance and freedom for self-expression.

Outdoor locations on campus functioned as neutral spaces that participants were able to adapt and appropriate for their own personal needs. These places were often locations that were free from the marginalization and isolation that participants encountered in campus-sanctioned spaces. One participant regularly visited an on-campus water fountain because of her personal connection to water, and she related the essentiality of water to the essentiality of herself: “Just the meaning of water and how it’s essential to life and how humans are essential to life and people are essential to life and then I am essential to my life. And I have a place on this campus and I’m going to make a big impact one day…”.  Lastly, on-campus residence halls functioned as cues for participants’ reflections on past experiences, inspired participants to share meaningful stories, aided participants in constructing narratives, and stored both memories and past selves.

Blog Reference

Devlin, M. (2013). Bridging socio-cultural incongruity: Conceptualising the success of students from low socio-economic status backgrounds in Australian higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 38(6), 939–949.