The SoTL Advocate

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

Become a Social Change Agent for SoTL

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

In the many workshops and keynotes on SoTL that I have given over the years at many institutions and conferences, participants always express complaints about the insufficient value, reward, use, and support of SoTL. And though we talk about the many reasons why these problems exist, I prefer to focus the conversation on what can be done. I suggest that everyone, in different ways and to different degrees, should be a social change agent fighting to enhance the value, reward, use, and support of SoTL both within their institution and within their discipline. Below are several actions those of us who care about SoTL, and improving teaching and learning, can take to advance the field in these contexts.


  • Support junior faculty and graduate students in SoTL work.
  • Co-opt respected colleagues as allies in the social movement.
  • Push for more SoTL resources on campus (e.g., research grants and travel funds) and/or help with faculty development about SoTL including a SoTL conference, publication, contest, blog and other social media to provide local outlets and sharing of SoTL work.
  • Facilitate collaborations (e.g., joint workshops, pooled resources for grants, opportunities to share SoTL work on campus) between the office that offers support for SoTL and related offices (e.g., Research and Sponsored Programs, IRB, Assessment Office, Teaching Center, University Marketing, Admissions, Faculty/Academic Senate).
  • Send SoTL citations and results that are relevant to campus initiatives or concerns to decision makers.
  • Facilitate the use of SoTL data/results in course design, pedagogical choices, incorporation of new technologies, and curriculum reform.
  • Inform and work directly with Chairs, Directors, and Deans to use SoTL in the above processes and to support SoTL work by their faculty/staff members (e.g., send them information about opportunities for their faculty/staff, hold SoTL information sessions, offer examples of how SoTL can be useful in their unit).
  • Educate colleagues and administrators making decisions in the reward system about SoTL work and volunteer to help rework the reward system to increase value for SoTL.
  • Work to have SoTL as an explicit value or goal in your institution’s strategic plan. Goal 2, strategy 2F in
  • Work to have a University level SoTL award and/or one or more prestigious SoTL positions on campus.


  • Connect people in your discipline to the broader, cross-discipline, international SoTL movement by informing them of conferences, organizations, and publications. For example,
  • Encourage support for faculty engaged in SoTL in your discipline.
  • Volunteer to lead a workshop or organize a session on SoTL at your disciplinary conference.
  • Push for a plenary/keynote on SoTL at your disciplinary conference.
  • Work to make sure SoTL is an explicit and significant part of any formal ‘teaching-learning’ subgroup in your discipline/disciplinary organization.
  • Work to write, and have accepted by governance, a formal statement about SoTL in your disciplinary organization.
  • Help establish an award for SoTL work in your disciplinary organization.
  • Offer SoTL small grants from your disciplinary association.

One thought on “Become a Social Change Agent for SoTL

  1. Pingback: A Bit of History of Centralized Support for SoTL at One Institution | The SoTL Advocate

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