Written by Kathleen McKinney, Illinois State University, Emeritus and Jennifer Friberg, Illinois State University
In this blog post we share a model for the application of scholarship of teaching and learning findings in and beyond the individual classroom level. The model, named SLaM, is detailed in the Introduction chapter of our edited book, Applying the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Beyond the Individual Classroom (Indiana University Press, 2019, in press). The focus of that volume is on SoTL and its application beyond one classroom but the SLaM model is about application at any level. We define SoTL using both our institutional definition, ‘the systematic reflection/study of teaching and learning made public,’ as well as key characteristics as practitioner, action reflection/research that is usually about the instructor/researchers’ own students and/or students in their discipline and is most often at the local level. We understand application as the use of SoTL research findings and implications to design, change, intervene, make decisions, etc., primarily in institutions and disciplines, to enhance teaching and student learning.
The SLaM model is an outgrowth of our early discussions of application at various levels (e.g., Friberg & McKinney, 2015, 2016; McKinney 2003, 2007, 2012). We then organized and built on those ideas, as we wrote for and edited our latest book, to create the SLaM model. The model uses three questions to conceptualize, categorize, and understand the use of SoTL results/knowledge in applications to teaching and learning. We briefly note these here but a more detailed discussion, diagram, and examples of the model can be found in our Introduction to our edited book (see endnote 1 below for the citation for the model).
- What is the source of the SoTL that is applied? The “S” in our SLaM framework is connected to identifying the source(s) of SoTL findings being applied. SoTL research results that are applied at various levels may be from the teacher’s original scholarship of teaching and learning studies, SoTL work by colleagues, the synthesis of presented or published SoTL research in the discipline/institution/larger SoTL field, or some combination of these sources of SoTL results and implications.
- At what level(s) are the data/results/implications applied? There are numerous levels (the “L” in our framework) at which SoTL findings and implications could be applied to positively impact teaching and learning. These levels include the individual classroom, course/module, program, department, college, co-curricular, institutional, disciplinary, multi-institutional, and multi-disciplinary levels.
- What mechanisms or processes are used (or could be used) to apply the SoTL data/results/implications to new areas or contexts at various levels? The “M” in our SLaM framework represents the many mechanisms that exist or could be created that can be used as processes for novel applications of SoTL findings. A few examples include assessment, quality assurance, course/program design or redesign, accreditation, budget development, strategic planning, faculty/staff development, interdisciplinary initiatives, and graduate student training.
In our forthcoming edited book, eleven examples of the application of SoTL are described; two in our Introduction and nine in the contributed chapters. We briefly summarize three of these examples of applications and their fit with our model here. First, Brent Oliver, Darlene Chalmers, and Mary Goitom of Mount Royal University in Canada in their chapter, “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” use findings and implications from face-to face interviews with students from multiple institutions (source). They apply what they learned at the course, program and department levels using curricular reform, program review and accreditation (mechanisms). They are planning additional applications in a new interdisciplinary fellowship program and via faculty development programs.
Another example comes from Belgium. In the chapter, “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 describe their sources of SoTL findings: SoTL literature on feedback practices as well as original data from interviews with members of the faculty participating in SoTL staff development programs, observations and diaries of advisers, minutes of meetings, and descriptive templates of project outcomes. Levels of application included individual courses, faculties/departments (group of courses; program), and institution. The mechanisms they used for application were specific course re-design tasks (designing feedback activities by faculty participants), a variety of course interventions, and sharing results in departments via meetings and plenaries.
Finally, contributors Claire Vallotton, Gina A. Cook, Rachel Chazan-Cohen, Kalli B. Decker, Nicole Gardner-Neblett, Christine Lippard, and Tamesha Harewood share their SoTL applications in “The Collaborative for Understanding the Pedagogy of Infant/toddler Development: A Cross-University, Interdisciplinary Effort to Transform a Field through SoTL.” Their project used implications from past SoTL literature, reflection, and original SoTL studies on multiple campuses (sources) at the course, program, department and disciplinary levels. The application mechanism was a cross-institutional, collaborative group of scholars (CUPID) where participants shared resources, conducted research, and disseminated work via conferences, workshops, publications, meetings.
We hope readers of this blog post will take a look at the details of the SLaM model and the interesting projects and applications from around the globe presented in the edited volume. We welcome feedback on the model and hope others will find it useful in their SoTL research and applications.
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.
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.
 As discussed in the Introduction to our edited book, the SlaM model overlaps slightly with the 4M model (Poole and Simmons, 2013; Wuetherick and Yu, 2016). Our initial presentations and writings of the SLaM model, however, predate the 4M model and the two models are distinct in various ways.