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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New Funding Opportunities for ISU SoTLists!

The Office of the Cross Endowed Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at Illinois State University is accepting applications for two grant programs: FY18 University Research Grants and FY17 Summer Mini Grants. Information related to each of these funding programs can be accessed via the Cross Chair website. An overview is provided for each program below. Contact Jennifer Friberg (jfribe@ilstu.edu) with questions.

FY18 University Research Grants:

The Cross Endowed Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning requests proposals for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning URG Grant Program. The program provides scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) small grants to study the developmental and learning outcomes of ISU students. For 2017-2018, funded projects can focus on the systematic study/reflection of any teaching-learning issue(s) explicitly related ISU students.

Grants of up to $5,000 are available. Funds may be used for any appropriate budget category (e.g., printing, commodities, contractual, travel, student help, and salary in FY18). While 4-5 grants are expected to be awarded, all awards are subject to the availability of funds allocated for FY18. Proposals should be submitted by 5/22/17.

urg summer

FY 17 Summer Mini Grants:

The Cross Endowed Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning requests proposals for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning URG Grant Program. The program provides scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) small grants to study the developmental and learning outcomes of ISU students. This funding program will award six mini-grants of $600 each to ISU faculty via a competitive application process. These funds will be awarded as a June 2017 stipend for work on a new or ongoing SoTL project at any stage of completion (e.g., writing an IRB, analyzing data, writing up findings). Proposals should be submitted by April 24, 2017.

mini summer

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Assessing the Reach of the SoTL Advocate Blog

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

The SoTL Advocate blog started as an advocacy and outreach effort to provide news, ideas, and resources for those interested in SoTL at and beyond Illinois State University in November of 2014. Our intention at that time was to post one blog per week and see what happened, assessing the process periodically. Here we are, 30 months later, so it seemed like a good idea to see where things stood in terms of the status of this blog.

The SoTL Advocate uses wordpress.com for publication of the blog. Statistics are available for all blog managers to use that yield interesting data related to readership and reach of the blog as a whole and of individual blog posts. I accessed the stats for the SoTL Advocate last week and am pleased to report the following:

  • Since November of 2014, we have posted 133 individual blogs and have counted 7197 visitors to our blog. These visitors have combined for 12,119 views of various blog posts.
  • The SoTL Advocate is accessed, on average, 5 times/day by unique readers.
  • Blog posts have most typically been categorized as SoTL resources (65 tags), ideas for SoTL research (47 tags), SoTL news (43 tags), publishing (43 tags), or SoTL report/opinion (18 tags).
  • While posts have been written primarily by Kathleen McKinney and I, there have been over 20 guest bloggers who have had their work posted on the SoTL Advocate.
  • In any given week, the most popular time for this blog to be read is Monday evening at 7pm (CST).
  • Since November of 2014, the SoTL Advocate has been viewed over 10,000 times by individuals in 56 countries. Countries most frequently accessing the blog in that timeframe are as follows: the USA (8208 views), Canada (1074 views), Australia (692 views), the UK (349 views), Malaysia (192 views), the Philippines (186 views), Brazil (136 views), South Africa (81 views), India (77 views), Ireland (77 views), and the Singapore (62 views).

blog reach

  • The most popular blogs (measured by views from unique readers) posted to this site have been:
  1. Developing SoTL Research Ideas and Questions
  2. SoTL Applied: Evidence-based Strategies for Better Classroom Discussions
  3. SoTL Methodology Series #1: Case Study Research
  4. Application of SoTL: Strategies to Encourage Metacognition in the Classroom
  5. Might the 4M Framework Support SoTL Advocacy?
  6. Do We Need to Be Meta-theoretical in our SoTL Work?
  7. SoTL and Institutional Review Boards
  8. Reflections on the SoTL Scholar-Mentor Program
  9. Ideas for Engaging Students in SoTL: Notes from a Panel at the Annual Teaching-Learning Symposium at ISU
  10. Tips for Publishing SoTL Work

I have to admit that the readership of the SoTL Advocate was much larger than I had anticipated, and that we truly have a global readership. It would seem that the blog that Kathleen McKinney and I started has realized its mission (at least in part!) of being a useful resource for individuals interested in SoTL at and beyond Illinois State University. For that, I am thrilled. Thanks to the readers who have read and shared blogs from this site. Your readership and support is very much appreciated!

This recent assessment of the SoTL Advocate has led to clear areas of emphasis for this blog in the future:

  • Our global readership needs to be represented with global authorship! While we have posted blogs written by individuals from Canada and England, it would be wonderful if we could feature SoTL opinions, reports, and ideas from outside the United States with greater frequency.
  • The SoTL methods series (started in 2015 then shelved to cover other topics) will be resurrected in 2017. The three methods blogs that were posted were among the most read in the blog’s history.
  • Applied SoTL blogs are also quite popular, with posts featuring information about how to apply extant SoTL research being frequently accessed by readers. As such, resources will be devoted to increasing the number of applied SoTL blogs, moving forward.

More ideas are percolating, so stay tuned. Feel free to comment with suggestions below, as inspiration is always welcome.

Again, thanks for your support of the SoTL Advocate!


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Spring Break & Call for Contributors

There will be no SoTL Advocate post this week, as it’s time to enjoy a mid-term break!

While away, we would invite you to consider submitting a post for this blog. Ideas might include — but certainly aren’t limited to:

  • a report of a SoTL project that discusses preliminary/pilot/final data
  • ideas for a new SoTL project
  • reflection on involvement in SoTL as a researcher, mentor, or student
  • literature review that leads to application of extant SoTL research
  • directions for SoTL in the future
  • examples of cross-disciplinary or cross-institutional SoTL advocacy, research, or activity
  • visual representation of SoTL (e.g., documentary)
  • resources for others to use in terms of SoTL advocacy and/or outreach
  • tips for fellow SoTL researchers
  • information re: SoTL in individual disciplines

Blogs (or questions about authoring a blog) should be submitted to Jen Friberg (jfribe@ilstu.edu) and should adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. Blogs should be 750-100 words in length.
  2. Blogs are subject to editor review prior to acceptance for publication.
  3. The voice of the blog is up to its author. Feel free to write formally or conversationally, whatever best matches the blog topic.
  4. Blogs can include visuals. Provide a reference if image is not open-sourced or author-owned.
  5. If appropriate, please include a reference list for any citations in your blog. A suggested reading list is appropriate, as well.
  6. All blogs should include author affiliation and contact info (e.g., email address)


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Sometimes, there is more than the road…

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

Last fall, my son was struggling to complete a two-mile run in the required time frame to qualify for his high school’s varsity soccer team. Despite having met all other requirements, a nagging injury was making this last sksponge bobill particularly difficult.  On his third try, he was able to cross the finish line under the required time period…thankfully! Evidently, as he ran, my son channeled Sponge Bob*, chanting “focus on the road…there is nothing but the road” to concentrate on each step he took until his task was accomplished. In this case, a singular focus was appropriate and successful.

Why do I share this story about my son? Last week, I had a long conversation with a former colleague about SoTL advocacy. This colleague suggested that the only necessary advocacy for SoTL on a college campus involved provision of financial support for faculty SoTL research and associated travel. She went on to say that it was the role of individual faculty members to advocate for their SoTL research and to choose to involve (or not involve) students in these endeavors. Her assertion was that my role as a campus advocate for SoTL was so one-dimensional immediately reminded me of my son’s Sponge Bob quote. My colleague clearly believed that for SoTL advocacy, the focus should be only on the road (research support). I would argue there is much more to attend to!

In my view, SoTL advocacy is complex and is necessarily deep and broad, involving a variety of stakeholders across a host of contexts. In July, I questioned whether the 4M framework could support SoTL advocacy. As I prepared my internal FY17 report for my institution’s administration, I’ve listed the accomplishments of my office as aligned with the major objectives that were set a year ago. Additionally, I’ve assessed successes in advocating for SoTL in at the micro, meso, macro, and mega levels. Though this was not a requirement of my institutional review, I felt there might be benefit in understanding which levels might need more support, moving forward. A few strategies that I’ve employed this year in each area of the 4M framework are described below:

       
Micro

(individual level)

Meso

(departmental level)

Macro

(institutional level)

Mega

(beyond institution)

·   Designed leveled SoTL workshops for faculty (Intro series and “master” classes for those with SoTL experience.

·   Co-created a certificate program for graduate students to learn about SoTL and plan a SoTL project with a disciplinary mentor.

·   Developed a mechanism to provide annual reports to college Deans and department/school directors to outline SoTL involvement and productivity for faculty and students. ·   Provided travel funds for 14 faculty to attend twelve different national/international research conferences to present their SoTL research.

·   Provided support for two new disciplinary SoTL journals.

·   Provided consultations to two departments, detailing efforts to increase visibility of SoTL on campus and acceptance of SoTL for promotion and tenure. ·   Utilized ISU’s SoTL Resource group to aid in strategic planning, workshop topic identification, and advocacy priorities.

Looking at my activities since July, I can now fully appreciate the perspective slotting each into micro, meso, macro, or mega categories allows. I feel as though I have been most effective at providing support for SoTL on the micro, macro, and mega levels; however, I noted that there is likely more for my office to do at the meso level. This information is important and has aided in setting goals for my office for FY18 — and would have been missed in the planning process without this extra analysis. Overall, this process helped me answer my question from July – yes, the 4M framework can be helpful in considering many aspects of SoTL advocacy. I would now argue that it can help plan AND assess advocacy efforts with an eye towards identification of opportunities for improvement.

Reflecting on needs and accomplishments has helped me draft major FY18 objectives for my office. While I may tinker a bit before these are finalized, I envision the following as the focus of the coming fiscal year:

  1. Harness social media and other web-based platforms (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, SoTL Advocate blog, Cross Chair website) to promote SoTL and provide resources for ISU faculty, staff, students, and administration.
  2. Support the design, completion, and dissemination of SoTL work by ISU faculty, staff, and students.
  3. Engage in internal and external collaborations to increase the visibility of and acceptance for SoTL at ISU and beyond.
  4. Increase involvement in SoTL nationally and internationally by members of the ISU community.

This process had led me to wonder how others how others engage in assessment of their SoTL advocacy efforts. Are there other models or frameworks being used? What are the metrics you use to determine successful advocacy or to anticipate needs for the future?

*Screen shot taken from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0fORGwg45M. While I am not a fan of Sponge Bob, I was happy to see that my son’s television viewing when he was younger was actually useful to him at a later age!