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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Class Discussions – Ideas for Use and Study

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

At EuroSoTL in June, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop session titled “Construction as a tool for reflection – A LEGO workshop,” developed by Dr. Staffan Andersson and Dr. J. Andersson Chronholm of Uppsala University in Sweden. The workshop allowed attendees to use LEGO Serious Play in exploring and discussing issues related to SoTL. I can certainly say we did discuss issues that are important in the SoTL world. But in doing so, we had FUN meaningfully engaging with each other as we told our SoTL stories (stay tuned – Dr. Andersson has agreed to write a blog on the experience with photos of our LEGO work in an upcoming SoTL Advocate blog!). On my plane ride home from the conference, I pondered the LEGO workshop, wondering how I could similarly engage my students in thinking about important disciplinary issues in unexpected ways.

Discussion bookBack in my office, I recalled a book I had purchased recently by Stephen Brooksfield and Stephen Preskill titled The Discussion Book: 50 Great Ways to Get People Talking – and sat down to read. Different from more familiar teaching/learning handbooks and resources, this book focuses exclusively on engaging in discussions across a variety of contexts for a wide range of purposes – a topic with an appeal to both public and private sector stakeholders: managers, employees, volunteers, teachers, and students. Looking at the techniques explained in the book, I noted some overlap (e.g., Think-Pair-Share or Critical Debate) with popular teaching/learning books such as Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty (Barkley, Cross, & Major, 2005); however, plenty of “new to me” ideas also were set forth by the authors.

In terms of organization, Brookfield and Preskill’s book includes ideas to accomplish the following:

  • Get discussion going with new groups
  • Promote good questioning
  • Foster active listening
  • Hold discussions without speaking
  • Get people out of their comfort zone
  • Engage in a text-based discussion
  • Democratize participation
  • Transition from small to large groups
  • Building group cohesion
  • Making group decisions

Each technique is presented in a formulaic manner within its own chapter in the book. Each chapter contains the following sections:

  • Purpose of technique
  • How it works
  • Where and when it works well
  • What users appreciate
  • What to watch out for
  • Questions that fit the technique

While I found several techniques that look promising for use with my classes and students this term (particularly a technique termed “single word sum-ups” to help my students speak briefly, concicely, and find themes across classmates), I was struck by the lack of any real evidence presented to accompany these. Great ideas? The book has many. Evidence to suggest that the techniques explained are effective? That was most definitely lacking.

What does that mean for us as SoTL enthusiasts? Well, thinking specifically of McKinney’s (2007) teaching continuum, this book could appeal to good teachers who apply these techniques with thought and care, scholarly teachers who seek evidence elsewhere to support the use of these strategies prior to applying them, and scholars of teaching and learning who take the opportunity to engage in classroom-based SoTL to systematically study the effectiveness of the techniques they choose to apply. From a teaching and learning standpoint, it is the case that this book offers potential benefit to many (students, teachers, scholars). So perhaps it truly does offer something for everyone. However, I DO hope that some instructors are tempted to study the outcomes of using any techniques they try! Such a study might be the perfect opportunity for a student or faculty member looking to engage in their first (or 50th!) SoTL experience.

 

Blog references:

Anderson, S. & Anderson Chronholm, J. (2017, June). Construction as a tool for reflection: A LEGO workshop. Presentation at EuroSoTL in Lund, Sweden.

Barkley, E. F., Cross, K. P., & Major, C. H. (2005). Collaborative learning techniques: A handbook for college faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Brookfield, S. D. & Preskill, S. (2016). The discussion book: 50 great ways to get people talking. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

McKinney, K. (2007). Enhancing learning through the scholarship of teaching and learning: The challenges and joys of juggling. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


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Call for University-Wide SoTL Award Open

Applications are sought for the 2018 Dr. John Chizamr & Dr. Anthony Ostrosky Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award. This award recognizes faculty and academic staff at ISU who have contributed to the field of SoTL, the SoTL body of knowledge, improved teaching, and enhanced learning.

Applications should be submitted by Monday, November 13, 2017. Requirements for application are detailed below. Information about past award recipients and application procedures can be found on the Cross Chair website, as well. Please contact Jen Friberg (jfribe@ilstu.edu) with questions about this award.

SoTL Award18

 


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Business and Cultural Experiences in Peru

Written by: Dr. Aysen Bakir, Professor of Marketing at Illinois State University

Editor’s note: Dr. Bakir received a “Going Global with SoTL” Mini-grant in the 2015-16 academic year. Here, Dr. Bakir reports on the project she designed for her students, with feedback from several students as to their perceptions of learning as part of their short-term study abroad experience.

redbirdperuAs we become more connected in the world, it also becomes more important to our students to have good understanding of different cultures and have the skills that would help them to function successfully in the workplace. Accordingly, it is important that our students have the skills and the experiences to differentiate them in the global marketplace. Studying abroad (whether short term or long term) can be one of those experiences that can help our students to have better understanding of the different cultures. Study abroad can also help the students to gain the skills and knowledge needed in their development as global citizens. In fact, business schools recognized the importance of globalization and have been implementing more global curriculum in the last two decades (Toncar and Cudmore, 2000; Lamont and Friedman, 1997). Studies also show that business-study abroad programs can lead to meaningful changes in students’ intercultural development (Payan, Svensson and Hogevold 2012). I developed a short-term study abroad program to address some of these issues. The study abroad experience included company visits and cultural excursions. These activities aimed to provide exposure to how businesses operate in different cultures, types of challenges they have, and the strategies companies implement in Peru. Additionally, students were exposed to Peru’s very rich history providing a great exposure to a culture that is significantly different from that of the United States.

Students who participated in the program reported learning in disciplinary content as well as in cultural knowledge. Requirements for the study abroad experience included several elements, notably a presentation assignment that have the students reflect on some of their experiences. The following excerpts from presentations of the study abroad participants provided some perspectives regarding to their professional and personal experiences:

  • “This trip has helped me learn a lot of how business is affected by culture.”
  • “The Inca Market allowed me apply my sales strategies I have been learning in the classroom to a real life situation. It was interesting to apply these skills and see how they are similar across the world. Although it might vary due to language barrier, sales practices are almost universal.”
  • “Being in a country that did not predominantly speak English was an eye opening experience. There were many times where I relied on hand motions and body language to communicate what I was trying to say. It’s amazing how we can still communicate with people without speaking”
  • “… Peru taught me a lot of life lessons… I loved becoming more culturally aware of how Americans can actually be different and can benefit from seeing how other people live… I have learned that I need to travel more and put myself outside of my comfort zone because that is how an individual grows.”

Overall, this short-term study abroad program seemed successful in enhancing students’ professional and personal knowledge by exposing them to a different culture than they are familiar with and engaging them in new learning opportunities beyond the classroom. This out-of-class experience helped students gain business, historical and geographical knowledge to enhance their intercultural skills for more agile professional functioning in their professional futures.

References Cited

Lamont, Lawrence M. and Ke Friedman (1997), “Meeting the Challenges to Undergraduate Marketing education,” Journal of Marketing Education, 19 (Fall), 17-30.

Payan, Janice M., Goran Svensson and Nils M. Hogevold (2012), “The Effect of Attributes of Study Abroad and Risk aversion on the Future Likelihood to Study Abroad: A Study Of U.S. and Norwegian Undergraduate Marketing Students,” Journal for Advancement of Marketing Education, 20 (3), 70-81.

Toncar, Mark F. and Brian V. Cudmore (2000), “The Overseas Internship Experience,” Journal of Marketing Education, 22 (1), 54-63.

 

 

 

 

 


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SoTL Podcasts

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

headphonesDuring the last academic year, the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology (CTLT) at ISU has introduced a podcast series called “Let’s Talk Teaching.” This podcast series brings members of the CTLT team together with guests from across campus for discussions about teaching, learning, and professional development opportunities for faculty at ISU and beyond. While new episodes are generally available on Fridays, bonus episodes are featured from time to time. Topics for podcasts represent a broad range of foci important to faculty. Each run approximately 20 minutes.

While the Let’s Talk Teaching podcasts focus mainly on practices for good teaching, several focus on scholarly approaches to teaching or SoTL including these:

There’s even an upcoming podcast that discusses SoTL that should be available in the next several weeks. A link to that podcast will be added as it becomes available.

This podcast series sparked an interest in searching for other SoTL-related podcasts that might be out there as good resources for those interested in SoTL. I found several that I will share below. There is no way this is an exhaustive list, so please feel free to add others you may know about in the comments below!

In addition, the following podcast series offer regular podcasts dealing with issues in higher education, which can occasionally discuss research on teaching and learning:


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Seeking Blog Contributors for Fall 2017 SoTL Methods Series

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

searchIn the early days of the SoTL Advocate, I featured a short-lived methods blog series that provided overviews of three research methods common to SoTL inquiry: case study, content analysis, and survey. These blogs functioned as brief overviews of each method and provided readers with resources to better understand these methods and exemplar articles to access, as well. Recently, several readers have asked for this series to be expanded, which I think is a wonderful idea! To that end, this fall, I plan to offer a multi-week continuation of the SoTL methods series, with specific methods included in this series to be determined.

Why are the topics yet to be determined? I hope to feature guest blog contributors in this series to represent the interesting and broad approaches to SoTL across disciplines and countries. It is my aim that each submitted blog will:

  1. Define/describe the method of focus for the blog.
  2. Provide an overview of a project where this method was used, along with a reflection on WHY this method was selected over others.
  3. Offer resources for readers to view other examples or descriptions of this method in SoTL (preferred) or discipline-specific scholarship.
  4. Cite references for all resources noted in the blog.
  5. Provide affiliations and contact information for all blog contributors.

Do not feel as though you have to be a recognized “expert” on the method you write about — you just have to be willing to share what you’ve learned through reading or using the method you have chosen. Single author contributions from students or faculty are welcome, but please feel free to invite colleagues and/or students to co-contribute, as well.

Blogs should be approximately 750 words in length and should be written in a friendly and accessible manner, absent unneeded disciplinary jargon that might make a general SoTL readership unable to benefit from accessing the content of the post. Visuals (e.g., open source pictures, photos, videos) are encouraged, as more people will “click” on a blog link if a visual is attached!

If you are interested in submitting a blog for this series, please email me, Jen Friberg (jfribe@ilstu.edu), with a brief statement of interest by August 1, 2017 as I want to ensure we do not have unnecessary overlap in topics. Final blogs should submitted to me by September 15, 2017 for review and formatting. It is anticipated that this methods series will be featured in the SoTL Advocate from October-November, 2017.

A bit of information about the SoTL Advocate blog (i.e., history and reach) is presented below:

About the Blog: The SoTL Advocate was established by the Office of the Cross Endowed Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at Illinois State University (ISU) to highlight interesting SoTL work and encourage discussion within the SoTL community on various topics of interest to those working on SoTL at ISU and beyond. It is the goal of the SoTL Advocate that blogs will feature viewpoints of a diverse authorship, discussing SoTL projects, reflections, ideas, and topics that are representative of the global nature of the study of teaching and learning.

Blog Reach: Since November 2014, over 7000 visitors (representing 56 countries) have viewed blog content. On average, the SoTL Advocate is accessed over 40 times a week by unique viewers. All blog posts are publicized via the Twitter (250 followers) and Facebook (75 followers) accounts managed by the Office of the Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL. Blog authors can request specific hashtags/attributions for these posts, as appropriate.

Blog Post Guidelines: Blogs should be approximately 750 words (500-1000 word range is acceptable). Blogs should be written in a friendly and accessible manner, absent unneeded disciplinary jargon that might make a general SoTL readership unable to benefit from accessing the content of the post. Visuals (e.g., open source pictures, photos, videos) are encouraged, as more people will “click” on a blog link if a visual is attached!

Submission of a blog does not guarantee acceptance for publication. All blog submissions are reviewed by the SoTL Advocate editor for content and form prior to notification of acceptance status. Please note that blog posts may be conditionally accepted for publication pending revision/clarification. Blogs accepted for publication under this call for contributors will be published between October and November of 2017 as part of the SoTL Methods Series.


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ISU’s FY18 SoTL University Research Grants Awarded

Written by Jennifer Friberg, Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL and Associate Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders

STATE_YourLearningIn mid-June, a total of $20,000 was awarded by the Office of the Cross Endowed Chair at ISU to fund SoTL research in the approaching fiscal year. A total of 21 project proposals were received, making this year’s competition very competitive! Grant awards were made to seven faculty and five students representing a diverse mix of six schools/departments and five colleges across ISU’s campus. Abstracts from each project are presented below. Congratulations to all who earned project funding in this cycle!

Information about this grant program can be found here.

Assessing Dietetics Students Self-Efficacy, Knowledge, and Competence of Small Bowl Feeding Tube Insertion Using Patient Simulation

Julie Raeder Schumacher (Associate Professor) & Jamey Baietto (Gradaute Student), Department of Family and Consumer Sciences

Minimal research exists to validate feeding tube insertion simulation as an effective strategy to teach dietetic students. The purpose of this study will be to assess the change in self-efficacy and content knowledge of ISU dietetics graduate students to place bedside small bowel feeding tubes in simulated patients. Specifically, the following research questions guide this study: 1.) How will students’ knowledge of feeding tube insertion change from per-test to post-test after a simulation lab experience? 2.) How will students’ self-efficacy of feeding tube insertion change following a simulation lab experience? 3.) What will students’ level of competence be during the simulation lab as measured by the Memorial Medical Center Competency Checklist? and 4.) What will students’ perceptions be of their learning experience during the feeding tube insertion simulation lab (assessed via a focus group after lab is completed)?

Assessing Student Learning Outcomes of Participation in Study Abroad Programs at ISU

Lea Cline (Assistant Professor, School of Art), Kathryn Jasper (Assistant Professor, Department of History), & Erin Mikulec (Associate Professor, School of Teaching and Learning)

As a result of internationalization efforts at Illinois State University, more students are participating in study abroad programs offered through the Office of International Studies and Programs (OISP), which estimates there are currently over 90 programs operating in 47 countries. This study will evaluate the professional and personal learning outcomes of students participating in study abroad programs at ISU. The participants represent students participating in these study abroad programs of diverse class rank and major. The proposed project clearly fits SoTL as defined by ISU as the focus of the study is to gather data about and evaluate ISU students’ learning outcomes resulting from living and studying in a unique educational setting. The results of this study will be used to evaluate the impact of study abroad experiences on students’ personal and professional development, including intercultural competence, and to inform current practices for study abroad programs at ISU.

The Rewards of Civic Engagement & Out-of-Class Learning: One Stitch at a Time

Elisabeth Reed (Instructional Assistant Professor) & Sophia Araya (Undergraduate Student), Department of Family and Consumer Sciences

Fix It Friday is a program at Illinois State University in which students majoring in the Fashion Design and Merchandising (FDM) program set up sewing machines in various locations within the surrounding Bloomington-Normal community and offer free basic sewing, mending, and clothing repair services to anyone in need. The fashion students lend their time, talent, and skills on a completely volunteer basis. The purpose of this study to explore student perceptions before and after their volunteer experience, and collect testimonials of both students and customers during the Fix It Friday events. This information will be compiled into a short documentary film to provide a framework and rationale for other schools and Universities to which this program could be implemented. By collecting data on what types of items are fixed while simultaneously accumulating testimonials and feedback from both students and customers, we can attest to the overall holistic merits of the Fix It Friday program. While it is believed that the program has been meaningful and transformative for the students thus far, strategic and methodical research is required in order to assess the out-of-class learning outcomes and the value of civic engagement the Fix It Friday program has brought to both students and community members.

Agile Scrum in a BIS Undergraduate Capstone Course: Going from Being Students to Being Professionals

Roslin Hauck (Associate Professor), Gunjan Amin (Graduate Student), & Cole Mikesell, (Graduate Student), Department of Accounting and Business Information Systems

Agile Scrum is a developmental approach that is becoming increasingly popular as a framework to guide complex software and systems development projects. While the tools, artifacts, and events that are part of Agile Scrum are used to manage teamwork, it does so with the principles of transparency, adaptation, and inspection to encourage the values of commitment, courage, focus, openness, and respect within the Scrum Team (Schwaber & Sutherland, 2016). While the purpose is to ultimately create a technical system, much of the focus of Agile Scrum is on aspects of teamwork, including reflection, communication, self-organization, iterative and empirical learning. In this proposed research study, we will share our experience from both an instructor and student perspectives of the use of Agile Scrum in a Business Information Systems capstone course. In addition to presenting data collected from students from four semesters of  this course (sample size of ~50-60), we will also discuss key artifacts, roles, and activities used in the classroom, such as demonstration exercises, Scrum Master and Product Owner leadership roles, and student and team derived learning objectives and self-assessments.

Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation: An Experiment on the Role of Competitions in Teaching and Learning

Elahe Javadi (Assistant Professor) & Shaivam Verma (Graduate Student), School of Information Technology

Understanding, analyzing, and interpreting data for making reasoned decisions is a crucial dimension of being a responsible citizen in the digital era. To advance students’ learning experience in an applied data-mining course (IT344), this project aims to design, implement, and evaluate competition-based learning in the course. The study will employ a within-group field experiment design. During the course, students will complete interleaved competition-based and regular predictive modeling assignments. Students’ motivation for learning, satisfaction with learning process, and learning outcomes will be compared for competition and regular assignments.

 


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A Sampling of What Psychologists (and Some of You in Other Disciplines!) Engaged In SoTL Might Learn From Sociology

Written by Kathleen McKinney, Professor of Sociology & Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL, Emeritus, Illinois State University; Maxine Atkinson, Professor of Sociology, and Tyler Flockhart, Graduate Student, North Carolina State University

We were honored to be invited to write, and submit for review, a paper for the journal, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology, for their special section of ‘Cross Fertilization’ papers. In these papers, SoTL researchers from a discipline other than psychology offer ideas that might be of interest and use to psychologists doing or considering doing SoTL. Though our focus was on this sociology to psychology idea transfer, we believe some of what we discuss and illustrate in the paper might be of use to those in other disciplines as well. Thus, in this blog post, we briefly outline the content of our paper and provide a reference to the full paper.[1]

Recognizing the overlap between the disciplines of sociology and psychology as well as the significant contributions of psychologists to the research on learning and SoTL, we focus in the full paper on three areas in sociological scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) and sociology that offer potential contributions to psychologists (and others) engaged in SoTL research. Though our suggestions come directly from the heart of theory and method in our discipline in general, we began by offering some grounding of our ideas in the history and literature on teaching and SoTL, specifically, in sociology as well as in the field of SoTL more generally. To do this, we offer example citations of early (1980’s) writing in the sociology teaching-learning movement and more recent writing in the field of SoTL that support the importance of both context and qualitative methods in SoTL research.

Drawing from analyses of content in the journal Teaching Sociology, we then offer a brief overview of the ‘face of SoTL in sociology’ that might be of interest to others by reviewing some of the recent trends in SoTL in sociology including what research methods are used, the topics covered, and a few common findings. This overview of SoTL in sociology shows, empirically, that sociologists value critical thinking and deep learning as important learning objectives, that active learning and strong relevance of content to students are both useful pedagogies, and that student attitudes as well as student demographics or group membership can be related to student learning. SoTL research in sociology is also evidence-based, is very often at the classroom level, and uses multiple methods or measures to gather data, though often including student self-perceptions of learning.

Next, we address the utility of the ‘sociological imagination’—as well as two related, example theories that involve social structure, stratification, and social interaction—as a perspective for further understanding of teaching, learning, and SoTL. The sociological imagination is the key threshold concept (Meyer and Land, 2006) of our discipline and this paradigm tells us that human behavior exists in social context. C. Wright Mills (1959) defined the sociological imagination as the intersection of individual biography and historical context and emphasized the importance of distinguishing between personal troubles and public issues. Thus, sociologists argue that viewing learning as something that happens within individuals without consideration of the historical and social context within which these individuals learn is a limited and problematic view. Based on the sociological imagination and sociological level theories, we then urge psychologists and others doing SoTL to include three sets of variables and measures in their SoTL research: demographic or sub-cultural, interpersonal, and contextual. Including such variables and measures, we argue, will improve SoTL research and our ability to understand findings, as well as increase teacher effectiveness and student learning. We briefly summarize several SoTL in sociology studies that include one or more of these types of variables. We also apply the sociological imagination to a concrete example of a psychological construct and a teaching-learning issue– that of studying self-efficacy for learning statistics– to illustrate the types of research questions and variables to measure that would stem from such an analysis.

We then discuss the value, and sociological examples, of qualitative methods for SoTL research. As many of you know, qualitative methods– such as ‘think-alouds’, interviews and focus groups, observation, open-ended survey questions, and qualitative analysis of student writing and other products –have a variety of characteristics that fit well with many SoTL research questions. “Qualitative data are data in verbal or textual or visual form. Such data are more detailed and more directly reflect the voice of the participant. Qualitative work generally uses a naturalistic and interpretive strategy. The participants’ understanding of the meaning of the phenomenon is critical. You can obtain rich and elaborate data, look for emergent themes, draw some ideas about process, and quote the actual words of your respondents.” (McKinney, 2007, p. 68). Qualitative methods and data may also be especially useful for including ‘student voices’ in our SoTL research and providing data to help us understand process and intervening variables– the how, when, why– in our studies. We end this section of our paper with a brief summary of several SoTL in sociology studies that use qualitative methods.

Finally, we conclude the article by offering numerous additional sociologically-based research ideas that stem from the sociological imagination and the use of qualitative methods. Though the paper focuses on what psychologists might learn from our ideas, we hope that some of you in other disciplines will enjoy the full paper and find some uses for our suggestions.

Blog References

McKinney, K. (2007). Enhancing learning through the scholarship of teaching and learning: The challenges and joys of juggling. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Meyer, J. H. F., & Land, R. (Eds.). (2006). Overcoming barriers to student understanding: Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge. London: Routledge.

Mills, C.W. (1959). The sociological imagination. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

 

[1] This post includes original text as well as edited excerpts from the full article: McKinney, K., Atkinson, M., & Flockhart, T. (2017). A Sampling of What Psychologists Engaged in SoTL Might Learn from Sociology: Cross-fertilization article. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology. (in press, June). http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2017-19187-001/