The SoTL Advocate

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

Applying SoTL Beyond the Individual Classroom: An Overview of an Upcoming Edited Book*

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Written by Kathleen McKinney, Cross Chair and Professor of Sociology (Emeritus) and Jennifer Friberg, Cross Chair and Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders at Illinois State University 

In this blog post we share an overview of a new edited book titled Applying the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Beyond the Individual Classroom (Indiana University Press, 2019). The focus of this volume is on SoTL and its application beyond one individual classroom. We define SoTL using both our institutional definition, ‘the systematic reflection/study of teaching and learning made public’, as well as with key characteristics: practitioner, action reflection/research, usually about the instructor/researchers’ own students and/or students in their discipline at a local level. The SoTL results or implications that are applied/used beyond the individual classroom are from our chapter contributors’ own, original SoTL project(s) and/or from a synthesis of others’ SoTL work on a given topic or in the discipline. These SoTL findings and implications, then, are used or applied in various ways at levels beyond one classroom. We begin by elaborating on our SLaM model for describing or categorizing applications of SoTL research and results or implications. Our thesis and framework builds on earlier discussions of this topic (e.g., Friberg & McKinney, 2015, 2016; McKinney 2003, 2007, 2012) and focuses on three questions to design, categorize, or use applications of SoTL results/knowledge in and beyond the individual classroom (for an expanded explanation, see a prior blog on the topic):

  • What is the Source of the SoTL that is applied?
  • At what Level(s) in institutions and disciplines are the research/results/implications applied?
  • What existing or newly created Mechanisms or processes in the institution or discipline are used (or could be used) to apply the SoTL results to new areas or contexts, and beyond the individual classroom?

Our focus on SoTL applications beyond the individual classroom should not be interpreted as a critique of, or effort to decrease, SoTL at the individual classroom level. Classroom-based SoTL was the original nature of SoTL and remains the heart of SoTL in our view. In the edited book, however, we take the “big tent” view of SoTL (Hutchings & Huber, 2005:4). We hold a broad conception of SoTL in terms of questions asked, research methods used, and ways to make the work public. We also believe that conducting and using SoTL that moves beyond the individual classroom level is important for greater impact of SoTL on teaching, learning, and institutional and disciplinary cultures. Such research and applications are most often collaborative involving teams and networks of SoTL scholars and other stakeholders. SoTL beyond one classroom may include interdisciplinary, interinstitutional, and/or international research and applications thus broadening involvement, connections, and networks. SoTL beyond the micro level may be more likely to use multiple-methods and diverse theoretical frameworks. The application of SoTL findings at more macro levels should encourage, and provide the data for, evidence-informed decision-making within and across institutions. We also believe SoTL research and applications at a broader or more macro level, then, add to the field in terms of providing more information about the role of context and generalizability for SoTL work. Finally, SoTL at these other levels is often connected to department or institutional missions or goals and, thus, has the potential to increase its legitimacy, use, and impact.

To obtain material for the volume, we sought, via a widely circulated Call for Chapter Proposals and an editorial review process, detailed chapter ideas/proposals. After two rounds of reviewing chapter proposal abstracts, we selected our expert contributors based on their quality chapter ideas, fit to the theme of the book, and diversity. The authors represent a range of disciplines, institutions, and nations/cultures.  In addition, the levels, areas, and methods of their SoTL work and applications are purposely varied in order to demonstrate diversity of SoTL application across chapters. Chapters involve collaborations of researchers and authors in various roles. Though all chapters do both, some focus more on ‘conducting’ a SoTL project beyond the individual classroom; others on ‘applying’ more traditional SoTL beyond that level. Chapters report on SoTL about student learning and/or about SoTL related to faculty members’ teaching and learning. Chapters represent an array of SoTL questions and applications by authors from five nations and over a dozen institutions of higher education, who represent nine fields or disciplines, and administrative roles in ‘teaching-learning’ or ‘writing’ or ‘first-year’ centers or programs. (See the Table of Contents below.)

We hope readers of this post will be challenged to read the book and to consider and discuss with others our SlaM framework and where the example projects and applications in the book fit in the field of SoTL as well as in the use of SoTL research, results and implications in their disciplines and on their campuses.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Introduction to Applying SoTL Beyond the Individual Classroom: Overview, Framework, and Two Examples. Kathleen McKinney, Jennifer Friberg, and Maria Moore

Part I: Applied SoTL with a Focus on Student Learning, Outcomes, Program

  1. Reflexivity in the Field: Applying Lessons Learned from a Collaborative Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Study Exploring the Use of Reflexive Photography in Field Education. Brent Oliver, Darlene Chalmers, and Mary Goitom,
  2. Making a Graduate English Course an Organic and Integrated Learning Process. Radhika Jaidev and Tan Su Hwi
  3. User Perspectives on Simulation in Educational Practice. Andrew Creed and Ambika Zutshi
  4. A Bigger Bang for your Book: SoTL, High Impact Practice, and Common Reading
  5. Programs. April Tallant and Glenda Hensley
  6. The Collaborative for Understanding the Pedagogy of Infant/toddler Development: A Cross-University, Interdisciplinary Effort to Transform a Field through SoTL. Claire Vallotton, Gina A. Cook, Rachel Chazan-Cohen, Kalli B. Decker, Nicole Gardner-Neblett, Christine Lippard, and Tamesha Harewood

Part II: Applied SoTL with a Focus on Faculty/Instructor Learning, Development

  1. Catalyzing the Exchange and Application of SoTL Beyond the Classroom: An Analysis of Two Types of Community Spaces. John Draeger, and Lauren Scharff
  2. Multi-Institutional SoTL: A Case Study of Practices and Outcomes. Peter Felten, Jessie L. Moore, and Tim Peeples
  3. “Feedback First Year”- A Critical Review of the Strengths and Shortcomings of a Collective Pedagogical Project. Dominique Verpoorten, Laurent Leduc, Audrey Mohr, Eléonore Marichal, Dominique Duchâteau, and Pascal Detroz
  4. The Scholarship of Teaching, Learning, and Student Success: Big Data and the Landscape of New Opportunities. George Rehrey, Dennis Groth, Carol Hostetter, and Linda Shepard

Conclusion

Circles of Inquiry and Impact: Expanding the Teaching Commons. Pat Hutchings, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment; former VP of the Carnegie Foundation for Teaching

*This blog post uses edited excerpts from the Introduction chapter by McKinney, K., Friberg, J., and Moore, M. titled “Introduction to Applying SoTL beyond the Individual Classroom: Overview, Framework, and Two Examples” in our forthcoming edited book, Friberg, J. and McKinney, K. (Eds.) 2019. Applying the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Beyond One Classroom. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. (Publication is expected about August, 2019.)

Blog References

Friberg, Jennifer C., and Kathleen McKinney. 2016. “Creating Opportunities for Institutional and Disciplinary SoTL Advocacy and Growth.” Presentation. SoTL Commons Conference, Savannah, GA, USA.

Friberg, Jennifer C., and Kathleen McKinney. 2015. “Strengthening SoTL at the Institutional and Disciplinary Levels.” Poster presentation. EuroSoTL, Cork, Ireland.

Hutchings, Pat., and Mary T. Huber. 2005. The Advancement of Learning: Building the Teaching Commons. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.        

McKinney, Kathleen. 2012. “Making a Difference: Applying SoTL to Enhance Learning.” The Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 12(1): 1-7.

McKinney, Kathleen. 2007. Enhancing Learning through the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: The Challenges and Joys of Juggling. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

McKinney, Kathleen. 2003. “Applying the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: How Can We Do Better?” The Teaching Professor August-September:1,5,8.

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