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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Decoding Comes to Illinois State!

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

Later this week, faculty at Illinois State University have the opportunity to learn about an approach to SoTL known as “Decoding the Disciplines.” Dr. David Pace, Emeritus Professor of History from Indiana University and co-creator of Decoding, will be joining faculty for two separate events:

  • Thursday, 3/29/18: Pace will lead a Decoding event tailored specifically for historians on campus. This 2-hour session will focus on the importance of systematic study of learning and will introduce Decoding to faculty. Happily, we have 25 faculty who have volunteered their time to attend this session!
  • Friday, 3/30/18: Pace will facilitate a full-day workshop for faculty from across campus. Attendees who RSVP’ed for the event include 22 faculty representing five colleges and 13 different academic departments. Faculty will take a deep-dive into Decoding, identifying bottlenecks, experiencing a mock Decoding interview, identifying ways to share Decoding work, and discussing next steps for developing faculty learning communities to begin Decoding work on campus in the next academic year.

What is Decoding? It’s defined by Pace and his colleague (and co-creator of Decoding) Joan Middendorf as:

a process for increasing student learning by narrowing the gap between expert and novice thinking. Beginning with the identification of bottlenecks to learning in particular disciplines, it seeks to make explicit the tacit knowledge of experts and to help students master the mental actions they need for success in particular courses.

Decoding represents a structured process of inquiry with seven distinct steps:

Step 1  Define a Bottleneck

Identify a place in a course where many students encounter obstacles to mastering the material.

Step 2  Define the Basic Learning Tasks

Explore in depth the steps that an expert in the field would go through to accomplish the tasks identified as a bottleneck.

Step 3  Model these Tasks Explicitly

Let the students observe the instructor going through the steps that an expert would complete to accomplish these tasks.

  • Provide a metaphor or analogy for the desired thinking
  • Perform the desired thinking in front of students with a disciplinary example
  • Explicitly highlight crucial operations in the example
  • Repeat this process and make it an integral part of every aspect of the course.

Step 4  Give Students Practice Feedback

Construct assignments, team activities, and other learning exercises that allow students to do each of the basic tasks defined above and get feedback on their mastery of that skill.

Step 5  Motivate the students

Decide what approaches encourage students to excel and then utilize them to create an environment that fosters a positive learning environment.  Identify any emotional bottlenecks that arise from students’ preconceptions of the field or of the material being studied.

Step 6  Assess How Well Students Are Mastering These Learning Tasks
 Create forms of assessment that provide you specific information about the extent of student mastery of the particular learning tasks defined in Step 2 above.

Step 7  Share What You Have Learned About Your Students’ Learning

Share what you have learned informally with colleagues or more formally in SOTL articles and presentations.

Why did I decide to bring Decoding to ISU? The best answer is…faculty interest! I had two faculty members specifically request a Decoding workshop, based on their own experiences learning about Decoding at recent ISSoTL conference meetings. Additionally, across a variety of SoTL workshops in the last year, I noted that several faculty members were considering projects that seemed to be variations of Decoding work. I felt that exposure to this systematic method for understanding novice-to-expert learning might be very helpful. Pace will be the perfect person to draw faculty together and encourage Decoding-style SoTL at ISU!

Pace developed an informational handout to be shared with attendees at this week’s workshops. Graciously, he has agreed to for me to share the information contained in this handout in today’s blog. This information includes the steps summarized above and the following list of resources to learn more about Decoding. Thanks, David! We are excited to work with you this week!

Decoding the Disciplines Web Resources:

Decoding the Disciplines website and access to the Decoding list serve — http://decodingthedisciplines.org/

History Learning Project http://www.iub.edu/~hlp/

Publications:

  Books

  • David Pace. (2017) The Decoding the Disciplines Paradigm (Indiana University Press).
  • Janice Miller-Young and Jennifer Boman, eds. Using the Decoding the Disciplines Framework for Learning Across Disciplines, New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 150. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
  • Joan Middendorf and Leah Shopkow, Decoding the Disciplines: How to Help Students Learn Critical Thinking (Stylus)
  • David Pace and Joan Middendorf, eds., (2004). Decoding the disciplines: Helping students learn disciplinary ways of thinking. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 98. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Articles

  • Díaz, Arlene, Joan Middendorf, David Pace, and Leah Shopkow (2008). The history learning project: A department “decodes” its students. Journal of American History 94(4).
  • Shopkow, L., Diaz, A., Middendorf, J., & Pace, D. (2013). The History Learning Project “Decodes” a Discipline: The Marriage of Research and Teaching. In Kathleen McKinney (ed.) SoTL in and Across the Disciplines. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
  • Middendorf, Joan, Jolanta Mickutė, Tara Saunders, José Najar, Andrew E. Clark-Huckstep, David Pace with Keith Eberly and Nicole McGrath (2015) ‘What’s Feeling Got to Do With It? Decoding Emotional Bottlenecks in the History Classroom’ Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, vol.14: 166-180.
  • Shopkow, L. (2013). From Bottlenecks to Epistemology in History: Changing the Conversation about the Teaching of History in Colleges and Universities. Changing the Conversation about Higher Education (Robert Thompson, Ed.). Rowman and Littlefield

(A more extensive bibliography of Decoding publications may be found at the Decoding the Disciplines web site (click on “Resources” and then “Bibliography”)

Please contact David Pace, dpace@indiana.edu, if you have any questions or if you would like to be part of the Decoding the Disciplines Listserv

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Evidence-Based Clinical Education: A Proposed Framework for Consideration

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

Last year, my fellow Teaching and Learning in Communication Sciences & Disorders Editorial Board colleagues and I published a paper describing our vision for the culture of the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) in CSD (Ginsberg, Friberg, Visconti, DeRuiter, & Hoepner, 2017). At that time, we stated:

A central tenant in the practice of speech-language pathology and audiology is that of evidence-based practice (EBP) — the notion disciplinary research (in concert with patient/family preferences and clinical judgement) should serve as the basis for clinical decision making. Ginsberg, Friberg, and Visconti (2012) argued that a similar standard of evidence-based education (EBE) should be in place for making pedagogical decisions in the classroom to support a scholarly, research-informed approach to teaching and learning.

Recently, I’ve been in the process of prepping for a series of three workshops at Adelphi University in New York. The Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders (CSD) kindly invited me to visit with faculty, students, and internal/external clinical educators as part of an effort to infuse the SoTL into their research and educational practices. In doing so, I aim to extend the advocacy work started with the publication excerpted above. This evening, I will be meeting with over 60 on- and off-campus clinical educators to talk about the connection between EBP, EBE, and what I’m calling evidence-based supervision (EBS). I will propose a framework for understanding evidence-informed decision making in all aspects academic and clinical education for CSD students, connecting different stakeholder groups and interests, using the concepts below:

  Evidence-Based Practice Evidence-Based Education Evidence-Based Supervision
Definition Promotes a scholarly approach to clinical practice Promotes a scholarly approach to teaching at the college/ university level Promotes a scholarly approach to clinical supervision combining scientific and pedagogical perspectives and needs
Exists as a balance between ·  External scientific evidence

·  Clinical expertise/expert opinion

·  Client/patient/ caregiver perspectives

 

·  External pedagogical evidence

·  Teaching/learning expertise/ expert opinion

·  Teacher/student perspectives

 

·   External pedagogical and scientific evidence

·   Clinical/supervisory expertise/expert opinion

·   Supervisor/ supervisee perspectives

Stakeholders course instructors, clinical educators, TAs, student clinicians course instructors, TAs, students enrolled in academic coursework on- and off-campus clinical educators, student clinicians

In my view, EBP, EBE, and EBS do not exist on separate planes in higher education; rather, each informs the preparation of a well-rounded and well-informed clinician. I would argue, however, that EBS represents the nexus of EBP and EBE, as clinical educators must have a grounding in both scientific and pedagogical research in order to approach clinical education in a scholarly manner. It is possible (though arguably not preferred!) for a course instructor in CSD to engage in EBE while not referencing EBP. Likewise, a clinician could know a great deal about EBP without knowing much at all about EBE. EBS is unique in that it requires a combined focus on understanding teaching and learning and clinical excellence.

This concept of EBS can be applied to other clinical disciplines structured similarly to CSD (e.g., nursing, physical/occupational therapy, dietetics, respiratory therapy, medicine), with evidence-informed decision-making at the heart of client care, and — aspirationally – the preparation of future clinicians. Thus, the construct of EBS might be one that could move clinical professions forward in embracing evidence-informed decision-making in all aspects of academic and clinical education. That said, tomorrow is the first time I take this framework on the road — literally. I’ll share any feedback I receive in a subsequent blog!

Blog References:

Friberg, J. C. (2018, March). Application of SoTL: Using evidence to inform a scholarly approach to clinical education. Workshop presented to clinical educators at Adelphi University, New York City.

Ginsberg, S. M., Friberg, J. C., Visconti, C. F., DeRuiter, M., & Hoepner, J. (2017). On the culture of scholarship of teaching and learning. Teaching and Learning in Communication Sciences & Disorders, 1(1).

 

 

 

 

 

 


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A Preliminary Look at Year 2 of the CSI-SoTL Program at ISU

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

STATE_YourLearningWe are nearing the end of the second year of the Certificate of Specialized Instruction in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CSI-SoTL) program at Illinois State University. This program was co-developed by the Office of the Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL and the Graduate School at ISU to provide an opportunity for graduate students to learn about SoTL, specifically how it can be applied to solve teaching and learning problems as well as how SoTL projects are planned and executed. Graduate students with a strong interest in teaching at the college level following graduation were invited to participate. Nine students are currently enrolled in the CSI-SoTL program. They represent a broad range of disciplines and backgrounds:

  • Six females, three males
  • Five doctoral students representing the disciplines of English, Educational Administration and Foundations, Kinesiology and Recreation, and Special Education
  • Four master’s students representing the disciplines of Business/Accounting, English, Sociology, and Psychology
  • Six of the nine participants were involved in teaching within their discipline

The CSI-SoTL program features three distinct phases:

  1. Seminars: Participants in the CSI-SoTL program attend three workshops across the fall semester on the topics of SoTL & My Teaching and Learning, Asking SoTL Questions, and Executing a SoTL project.
  2. Mentored SoTL project planning: CSI-SoTL participants are paired with faculty from their own discipline (or one closely related) to plan a SoTL project. All students complete a “Project Planning Worksheet” to explore options for research questions, methodologies, dissemination outlets, etc. Students are encouraged to ask their mentors about their experiences with SoTL to learn more SoTL in their own discipline.
  3. Reflection: CSI-SoTL participants reflect on the processes in Phase 1 and Phase 2 by thoughtfully answering 10 reflection questions

Following the completion of Phase One, students were asked to evaluate their experiences across all three workshops they attended. Students indicated the following with quantitative data based on a Likert-type scale where 1=strongly disagree and 5=strongly agree:

Mean SD
I was well informed about the objectives of each workshop in the series. 4.42 .30
I understand the difference between scholarly teaching and the scholarship of teaching and learning. 4.75 .16
Workshop content was relevant to my role as a student. 4.13 .30
Workshop content was relevant to my role as a teacher. 4.6 .24
The content of these workshops stimulated my interest in teaching and learning. 4.63 .18
I am more likely to engage in scholarly teaching/learning as a result of my attendance at these workshops. 4.88 .13
I am more likely to engage in SoTL as a result of my attendance at these workshops. 4.75 .16

When asked to describe the most valuable aspects of the Phase One workshops, students provided the following feedback:

  • Discussions with researchers outside the field of my discipline helped to spur new considerations and facilitated the design of my project.
  • Being able to develop my research question and bounce methodology ideas off other workshop participants was very valuable.
  • The planning worksheet helped put things into perspective about what I could do and how I could do it.
  • Opening up my understanding of what SoTL is was so appreciated. I knew nothing coming in and now I am equipped to learn more in this area.
  • The introduction to SoTL as a discipline and the literature available within our disciplines was wonderful.

One suggestion was provided to improve Phase One, which dealt directly with the fact that students only plan a project as part of this program (the project is not executed). This participant suggested that some form of data collection or extensive literature review be integrated into the CSI-SoTL program as part of Phase One to engage students more completely in the research process.

At this point, CSI-SoTL participants are completing Phase Two of their program and are engaged with their mentors to flesh out a high-quality SoTL project. The entire program is expected to conclude by mid-April. At that point, data from both CSI-SoTL cohorts will be analyzed in-depth to help inform next steps for the CSI-SoTL program, though preliminary plans are in the works to offer the program a third time during the next academic year. One positive outcome from the current cohort of participants is that several students have indicated that they will integrate their SoTL projects (planned in this program) into their dissertation research. WaHoo!