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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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/

 

 


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Student Teaching in Eastbourne, England: A SoTL Small Grant Project Grant One Year Later

Written by: Erin Mikulec and Jill Donnel, School of Teaching and Learning at Illinois State University

globalThe College of Education and the University of Brighton have worked in partnership for over 25 years to provide ISU students with the opportunity to complete half of their 16-week student teaching experience in schools in Eastbourne, England. However, to date, there has been no longitudinal research using multiple measures of data to investigate the impact(s) of the program. To that end, we proposed a study to examine the personal and professional learning outcomes of students who complete half of their student teaching in Eastbourne, England.

We began with a pilot study in October 2015 with five students participating in the program and collected the first iteration of data with a group of 18 students in February 2016. The students represented three different majors in the School of Teaching and Learning: Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education and Middle Level Education. Prior to leaving for England, the students had completed eight weeks of student teaching in schools in Illinois.

The study included multiple measures of data over the course of the students’ 8-week experience in England:

  • Students completed pre-departure modules to help prepare them for living in England and to familiarize them with the English school system, the National Curriculum, and classroom management practices.
  • We then traveled with the students for the first week of their experience, where we participated in their induction and orientation activities, and accompanied them to their schools to meet their cooperating teachers. We held a focus group discussion after the school visit in which the students discussed their first day at school, their decision to participate in the program, and their expectations for their student teaching experiences.
  • Over the course of the semester, students completed weekly reflections. This allowed us as the researchers to observe growth and development over the course of the experience, rather than at a fixed point in time. Each reflection provided guided questions focusing on different aspects of teaching and also allowed for making comparisons between student teaching experiences in Illinois and England. Site supervisors from the University of Brighton visited and evaluated the students twice during the program. These reports were also collected as data and provided an external perspective on the students’ teaching practices.
  • At the end of the 8-week student teaching program, students completed a final reflection in which they discussed how they believed the experience had changed them personally and professionally, their challenges and successes, what they will take with them from the experience into their future classrooms, and their preparation to return home to the United States.

Although we are now in the final stage of collecting our third iteration of data, we have identified several emerging themes from looking at our first two cohorts of data. Our initial findings indicate that there were personal and professional learning outcomes across all three majors, within each major, and even several shared between two majors.  For instance, the data revealed that the experience led to increased self-confidence both personally and professionally, as well as an increase in cultural awareness, in and out of the classroom for all three majors. In terms of themes shared between two majors, Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education students reported that the experience helped them to practice differentiation in instruction, and to see the value of student choice in the classroom. Data from Elementary and Middle Level Education students indicated that their experience helped them to work with diverse student populations and to negotiate classroom management strategies that are different from what they had experienced during their student teaching placement in Illinois.

Across all program areas, the participants identified ways in which they believed that the English school system exemplified certain aspects of teaching that they had not seen in a similar manner in their Illinois placements. Overall, the initial findings indicate that the student teaching experience in Eastbourne provided participants with a hands-on opportunity to compare and contrast the U.S. and the U.K. educational systems. By finishing the remainder of their student teaching in England, the students were able to recognize differences in practices and how they could use this practical experience improve upon their own in their future classrooms.

With the third and final iteration of data concluding, we look forward to analyzing the remaining data and completing the project. We presented our initial findings at the ISSoTL conference in October, 2016 in Los Angeles, as well as at ISU’s University-Wide Teaching and Learning Symposium in January, 2017. Both presentations yielded constructive and positive feedback. In addition to submitting a manuscript for publication, the results from this study will also be used to inform practice in the School of Teaching and Learning’s student teaching program, both in Illinois and England.


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Where Can My SoTL Be Published? A Focus on Math and Science-Related Disciplines

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

This week is the fifth installment in the series that started in February with the question “where can my SoTL be published?” Subsequent weeks focused on publication outlets for health-related, business-related, and arts and humanities-related disciplines. This week, the spotlight is on SoTL publication outlets for math and science disciplines (e.g. biology, chemistry, physics).

The list below presents links for arts and humanities journals, organized by discipline. Each link is accompanied by a brief description of each journal’s aim/scope/mission (often excerpted verbatim from each journal’s website). I hope you find this list helpful and would encourage readers of the blog to suggest additions to this list!

Cross-Disciplinary Publication Outlets:

Journal Name Aim/Scope/Mission of Journal

(excerpted, sometimes verbatim, from journal websites)

International Journal of Science Education The International Journal of Science Education (IJSE) bridges the gap between research and practice, providing information, ideas and opinion. Special emphasis is placed on applicable research relevant to educational practice, guided by educational realities in systems, schools, colleges and universities. The journal accepts empirical research papers, papers on innovations and developments, position papers, theoretical papers and letters to the editors.
Journal of College Science Teaching No aims or scope provided for this journal
Journal of Computers in Math and Science Teaching JCMST is a scholarly journal which offers an in-depth forum for the interchange of information in the fields of science, mathematics, and computer science. JCMST is the only periodical devoted specifically to using information technology in the teaching of mathematics and science.
Journal of Environmental Education The Journal of Environmental Education is a research-oriented, refereed periodical intended to provide a forum for critical and constructive debate on all aspects of research, theory and practice in environmental and sustainability education (EE & SE). Publication of diverse theoretical and methodological approaches and perspectives for international audiences is aimed at improving the quality of research and practice in the fields of EE & SE. Articles are encouraged that focus on methodological issues, challenges to existing theoretical discourses, conceptual work that links theory and practice and that crosses disciplinary boundaries.
Journal of Research in Science Teaching Journal of Research in Science Teaching publishes reports for science education researchers and practitioners on issues of science teaching and learning and science education policy. Scholarly manuscripts within the domain of the Journal of Research in Science Teaching include, but are not limited to, investigations employing qualitative, ethnographic, historical, survey, philosophical, or case study research approaches; position papers; policy perspectives; critical reviews of the literature; and comments and criticism.
Journal of Science Education and Technology Journal of Science Education and Technology published work categorized as disciplinary (biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer science and engineering and the learning processes related to their acquisition and assessment of results), technological (computer, video, audio and print), and organizational (legislation, administration, implementation and teacher enhancement). Insofar as technology is playing an increasing role both in the understanding and the development of science disciplines and in the delivery of information, the journal includes it as a component of science education.
Journal of Technology and Science Education The Journal of Technology and Science Education (JOTSE) has been created as a contribution to the development and improvement of scientific and technological education by constituting a common space to share experiences to all those who, somehow, are involved in the teaching and learning processes of engineering studies, in all modalities.
Natural Sciences Education Natural Sciences Education (NSE) is a peer-reviewed international journal published online continuously during the year. Articles are written by and for educators in the areas of animal science, ecology, natural resources, agronomy, the environment, entomology, and more.
Research in Science and Technical Education Research in Science & Technological Education is an original research journal publishing international perspectives on science and/or technological education. Scholarly research that investigates and interrogates the psychological, sociological, economic and organizational aspects of science and technological education, as well as developments within the global curriculum is encouraged.
Science & Education Science & Education publishes research using historical, philosophical, and sociological approaches in order to improve teaching, learning, and curricula in science and mathematics. In addition, the journal disseminates accounts of lessons, units of work, and programs at all levels of science and mathematics that have successfully utilized history and philosophy.
Science Education Science Education publishes original articles on the latest issues and trends occurring internationally in science curriculum, instruction, learning, policy and preparation of science teachers with the aim to advance our knowledge of science education theory and practice.

 

Discipline-Specific Publication Outlets:

Journal Name Aim/Scope/Mission of Journal

(excerpted, sometimes verbatim, from journal websites)

Astronomy
Astronomy Education Review No aims or scope were provided for this journal.
Biology
American Biology Teacher The American Biology Teacher is a journal designed to support the teaching of K-16 biology and life science. The journal features articles relating to the content of biology, commentaries on the social and ethical implications of biology, biology teaching strategies appropriate to the classroom, laboratory and field sites, trends in biology teaching, and those that offer assistance in the professional development of biology and life science teachers.
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education is an international journal aimed to enhance teacher preparation and student learning in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and related sciences such as Biophysics and Cell Biology, by promoting the world-wide dissemination of educational materials.
CBE-Life Sciences Education CBE—Life Sciences Education (LSE) publishes original, previously unpublished, peer-reviewed articles on research and evaluation related to life sciences education, as well as articles about evidence-based biology instruction at all levels. One goal of the journal is to encourage teachers and instructors to view teaching and learning the way scientists view their research, as an intellectual undertaking that is informed by systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of data related to student learning.
Journal of Biological Education Journal of Biological Education is firmly established as the authoritative voice in the world of biological education. The journal aims to bridge the gap between research and practice, providing information, ideas and opinion, in addition to critical examinations of advances in biology research and teaching. Through the coverage of policy and curriculum developments, the latest results of research into the teaching, learning and assessment of biology are brought to the fore.
Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education The Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education (JMBE) publishes original, previously unpublished, peer-reviewed articles that foster scholarly teaching, and provide readily adoptable resources in biology education.  JMBE welcomes thoughtful and supported submissions pertaining to scholarly teaching in undergraduate, graduate and professional (e.g., medical school) education, K-12 outreach, and informal education.
Chemistry
The Chemical Educator The Chemical Educator is a peer-reviewed journal serving the needs of all chemical education professionals at an affordable cost. The Chemical Educator is a working journal, a reference to current topics, experiments, and teaching methodology.
Chemistry Education Research and Practice Chemistry Education Research and Practice (CERP) is a peer-reviewed journal for teachers, researchers and other practitioners at all levels of chemistry education.
Journal of Chemical Education The Journal of Chemical Education publishes peer-reviewed articles and related information as a resource to those in the field of chemical education and to those institutions that serve them. JCE typically addresses chemical content, activities, laboratory experiments, instructional methods, and pedagogies. The Journal serves as a means of communication among people across the world who are interested in the teaching and learning of chemistry. This includes instructors of chemistry from middle school through graduate school, professional staff who support these teaching activities, as well as some scientists in commerce, industry, and government.
Engineering
Australasian Journal of Engineering Education The Australasian Journal of Engineering Education (AJEE) is offered as a means of exchanging current work and ideas, predominately from Australasian engineering education faculties and as a resource for Continuing Professional Development for our community.
Chemical Engineering Education CEE publishes papers in the broad field of chemical engineering education. Regular articles generally describe a course, a laboratory, a ChE curriculum, a graduate program, a special instructional program, a novel teaching approach, a method of using technology to improve teaching and so forth.
International Journal of Engineering Education The International Journal of Engineering Education is an independent, peer-reviewed journal. It has been serving as an international archival forum of scholarly research related to engineering education for over thirty years.
Journal of Engineering Education The Journal of Engineering Education is a peer-reviewed research journal focused on engineering education.
Geography/Geology
Journal of Geography The Journal of Geography provides a forum to present innovative approaches to geography research, teaching, and learning. The Journal publishes articles on the results of research, instructional approaches, and book reviews.
Journal of Geography in Higher Education The Journal of Geography in Higher Education is committed to promote, enhance and share geography learning and teaching in all institutions of higher education throughout the world, and provides a forum for geographers and others, regardless of their specialisms, to discuss common educational interests, to present the results of educational research, and to advocate new ideas.
Journal of Geoscience Education The Journal of Geoscience Education (JGE)is the premier peer-reviewed publication for geoscience education research at the undergraduate and pre-college levels. JGE serves as the only international forum for the publication of research concerning the pedagogy, assessment, and philosophy of teaching and learning about the geosciences.
Mathematics
The College Mathematics Journal The College Mathematics Journal is designed to enhance classroom learning and stimulate thinking regarding undergraduate mathematics. It publishes articles, short Classroom Capsules, problems, solutions, media reviews, and other pieces. All are aimed at the college mathematics curriculum with emphasis on topics taught in the first two years.
Educational Studies in Mathematics Educational Studies in Mathematics presents new ideas and developments of major importance to those working in the field of mathematical education. It seeks to reflect both the variety of research concerns within this field and the range of methods used to study them.
Investigations in Mathematics Learning Investigations in Mathematics Learning seeks to stimulate, generate, coordinate, and disseminate research efforts designed to understand and/or influence factors that affect mathematics learning.
Journal for Research in Mathematics Education JRME is a forum for disciplined inquiry into the teaching and learning of mathematics. The editors encourage submissions including: research reports, research notes, research commentaries, and book reviews.
Journal of Statistics Education JSE disseminates knowledge for the improvement of statistics education at all levels, including elementary, secondary, post-secondary, post-graduate, continuing, and workplace education.
Mathematics Teacher The Mathematics Teacher is devoted to improving mathematics instruction from grade 8-14 and supporting teacher education programs. It provides a forum for sharing activities and pedagogical strategies, deepening understanding of mathematical ideas, and linking mathematics education research to practice.
PRIMUS PRIMUS (Problems, Resources, and Issues in Mathematics Undergraduate Studies) is a leading journal for exchanging ideas about teaching collegiate mathematics. PRIMUS publishes lively and engaging articles for a readership comprised primarily of practitioners.  The journal’s focus is on pedagogical initiatives in college-level mathematics, mathematics education, and elementary statistics ranging in scale of application from individual students and courses to curricula and entire programs.
Physics
American Journal of Physics The American Journal of Physics publishes papers that meet the needs and intellectual interests of college and university physics teachers and students.
Physics Education Physics Education is the international journal for everyone involved with the teaching of physics in schools and colleges. The articles reflect the needs and interests of secondary school teachers, teacher trainers and those involved with courses up to introductory undergraduate level.