The SoTL Advocate

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

A Wealth of SoTL Conferences: Making Choices

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By Kathleen McKinney, Cross Chair in SoTL, Illinois State University

There are so many conferences related to teaching, learning, and the scholarship of teaching and learning in higher education (HE) that it can be overwhelming to decide which to attend and/or at which to present! There are local, regional, national, and international conferences. Some conferences focus on all levels of education including HE, others on higher education, specifically. Discipline specific conferences and those that are cross- or multi-discipline exist. Some conferences are entirely or primarily SoTL (as defined as evidence-informed study of the teaching and learning of our students and/or work on the field of SoTL). Other conferences are broader including SoTL work, teaching strategies or tips, assessment, policy issues, or other general HE topic areas. Many conferences cover all interesting questions related to teaching and learning; others focus on questions related to only one type or aspect of teaching and learning (e.g., use of technology or civic engagement). Conferences vary in format ranging from those with, primarily, a working institute/workshop format to those with all individual ‘research’ presentations. Most have keynote or invited speakers as well. Some conferences are associated with SoTL professional organizations, others with institutions of higher education, and still others with private profit or not-for-profit organizations.

Below is a somewhat narrow list of multi-discipline SoTL or SoTL/Teaching-Learning in Higher Education conferences for the 2015-2016 academic year. I have attended many of these in the past and always learn something and meet great new people. The culture at these conferences is generally that of support, development, interaction, and generosity. But not all are created equal and which is best for you depends on many factors. As you consider where to attend or present, think about your objectives for and interests in the conference.

  • Do you want to share primarily with people in your discipline or across disciplines?
  • Are you focused on a local audience or want much broader distribution of your work?
  • Do you want to attend, listen, and learn or also make public and teach others about you own SoTL work?
  • How much time, travel funds, and other resources do you have or can you find (check your institution for SoTL or other travel grants in addition to regular travel funding)?
  • What type of conference and conference activities ‘count’ in your institutional reward system?
  • Which conferences might lead to further SoTL networking and professional opportunities? Are there particular people you want to meet or involvement you wish to initiate and where might that best happen?
  • What presentation formats are included in a conference and which best fit as ways for you to represent your SoTL work (e.g., formal paper, panel, poster, video…)?
  • Is the format of the conference and any specific topic focus best for your learning objectives?
  • Are you interested in the keynote speakers and their listed presentations? How will those sessions benefit you and your SoTL work?
  • What other learning opportunities (e.g., workshops) are offered and at what cost?
  • Are you interested in extending your trip or using free time to learn outside the conference (e.g., about the culture, community, etc.) and are there resources or opportunities for that (e.g., tours? transportation?)?

I am sure readers of this blog can think of additional important questions to ask in choosing a SoTL conference. Feel free to respond to this blog post.


October 2–3, Research on Teaching and Learning Summit

Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw, Georgia

October 9–10, Maryville University Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Conference

Maryville University of St. Louis

St. Louis, Missouri

October 15–17, 45th Annual Conference of the International Society for Exploring Teaching and Learning

Savannah, Georgia

October 15–17, Lilly National Conference on College and University Teaching and Learning

Evidence-Based Teaching and Learning

Traverse City, Michigan

October 27–30, 12th Annual International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Leading Learning and the Scholarship of Change

Melbourne, Australia

November 12–14, 2015 Symposium on Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Connecting People, Practices, and Pedagogies

Mount Royal University

Banff, Alberta, Canada

November 19–22, Lilly International Conference on College and University Teaching and Learning

Evidence-Based Learning and Teaching

Miami University

Oxford, Ohio

January 7–9, Lilly National Conference on College and University Teaching and Learning

Evidence-Based Teaching and Learning

Austin, Texas

February 10–12, 8th Annual Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy

Virginia Tech

Blacksburg, Virginia

February 18–20, Lilly National Conference on College and University Teaching and Learning

Evidence-Based Teaching and Learning

Newport Beach, California

March 31–April 1, The SoTL Commons Conference

Savannah, Georgia

June 3–5, The Teaching Professor Conference

Washington D.C.

June 21–24, Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

Empowering Learners, Effecting Change

London, Ontario, Canada


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