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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Spring SoTL Offerings at ISU

The Office of the Cross Endowed Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning will offer three events this spring: two workshops and a brown bag lunch with the Chair of our IRB to discuss protection of human subjects in SoTL research.

Reservations via email to Jen Friberg (jfribe@ilstu.edu) will be taken for ISU faculty, starting next Monday, 2/6/17.  Read below for details on each event:

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STLHE 2017 Call for Papers & Reviewers is Open

Call for Proposals and Reviewers is open for the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education‘s 2017 conference in Halifax.

stlhe

Proposals Due: December 12, 2016 

The institutes of higher education of Halifax invite you to submit your conference proposals and to pass along this invitation to your colleagues and staff.

There are several themes, threads, and formats through which to submit a proposal for #stlhe2017.

Higher education is continually at a gateway, a liminal space, where possibility and advancement is available. In this context, what is the role of the post-secondary institutions, classrooms, and teachers in supporting students in their quest for higher learning? Understanding where we have come from, and where we are now, is key to understanding where we are going, and how we can develop and change over the next century to meet the needs of our changing student demographics.

Proposals may be submitted (and a submission template is available for download) on the conference website.

For those interested in reviewing submissions, please use this form

For more information, please contact stlhe2017@smu.ca

We look forward to hosting you in Halifax!

#STLHE17

 

 

 


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Reflecting on Phase One of ISU’s New CSI-SoTL Program

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

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 10.18.48 PMEarlier this year, I wrote a blog describing the Certificate of Specialized Instruction in SoTL (CSI-SoTL) program I co-developed in concert with my colleague, Amy Hurd, Director of the Graduate School at Illinois State University. Amy was interested in developing certificate or badging programs in various areas of focus for ISU’s graduate students; I was interested in developing a long-term effort to engage graduate students in the pursuit of scholarly teaching and engagement in the scholarship of teaching and learning. Thankfully, a collaboration was timely for both of us and the CSI-SoTL program emerged.

Quite honestly, Amy and I were unsure what type of interest students would have in our CSI-SoTL program. We created marketing flyers and sent information describing the program to all graduate students at ISU. Students with “a strong interested in teaching at the college/university level following graduation” were encouraged to participate. No stipends or course credit were offered as “carrots.” Rather, we hoped that students truly interested in learning about SoTL would join the program. Our goal was 10 participants; 13 enrolled. The breakdown of participants was as follows:

  • 7 males, 6 females
  • 8 doctoral students, 5 Master’s students
  • 12/13 students were involved in teaching within their discipline
  • Representation from the following disciplines (n): sociology (1), communication (2), English (3), politics and government (1), information technology (1), special education (2), economics (1), chemistry (1), and agriculture (1)

As conceptualized, the CSI-SoTL program was developed to help graduate students understand the purpose, definition and applications of SoTL to support current and future teaching, learning, and research efforts. Students enrolled in the CSI-SoTL program just completed the first of three phases:

  1. A three-workshop series on the topics of SoTL and My Teaching and Learning, Methods for SoTL, and Sharing My SoTL Work (October-December, 2016)
  2. Developing a SoTL project in consultation with a faculty SoTL research mentor (January-March, 2017)
  3. Systematic reflection during and after completion of workshops and project planning (Completed in April 2017)

Following the completion of Phase One, students were asked to evaluate their experiences across all three workshops the 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. 4.53 .52
I understand the difference between scholarly teaching and the scholarship of teaching and learning. 4.62 .51
Workshop content was relevant to my role as a student. 4.54 .66
Workshop content was relevant to my role as a teacher. 4.62 .51
The content of these workshops stimulated my interest in teaching and learning. 4.62 .51
I am more likely to engage in scholarly teaching/learning as a result of my attendance at these workshops. 4.85 .38
I am more likely to engage in SoTL as a result of my attendance at these workshops. 4.85 .38

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

  • I really enjoyed learning about what SoTL is and how it’s different from just “good teaching” and “scholarly teaching.” I also appreciated the resources that were provided.
  • The most valuable aspect was the feedback from fellow members of the group. The ability to discuss your questions or concerns with a receptive, intelligent audience helped me grow in my pursuits.
  • Getting to know other people’s SoTL research ideas.
  • In-depth discussion of research interests/questions.
  • Facilitator catered information to each participant’s disciplinary background, which helped to incorporate a diversity of opinions.
  • I view these workshops as a crucial step toward effective pedagogy. All graduate teaching assistants could benefit from this certification training.
  • First session was very educational and made me wish I had learned this was a field sooner.

Students offered the following suggestions to improve Phase One:

  • It would be great to send an email out in advance outlining specifically what we’ll be covering in each section.
  • The workshops were great. The only interesting addition might be an online discussion between workshops to talk with one another.
  • I feel like they could be longer! More work time together to bounce ideas off one another.
  • Could have some materials included and distributed before meeting every session like pre-memo email with articles and links.
  • Have homework.
  • More workshops! Perhaps have this as a for-credit class.

So, what to do with all this information? Plan for next year’s CSI-SoTL program!! While I am not sure that we will offer this program for course credit in the future, Amy and I will chat about ways to integrate students’ feedback to create a better experience for the next group of enrollees. I am already planning to integrate more “out of class” work and am intrigued by having an online discussion group for “in between” workshop queries, reflections, etc.

What is to come for this year’s CSI-SoTL participants in Phases Two and Three? I am in the process of matching each student with a faculty mentor with SoTL experience from their own discipline to plan a SoTL project. Together, each student-mentor pair will develop a detailed plan for a SoTL research project including research questions, methods, ethical considerations, and dissemination outlets. Students will share their projects with each other at an end-of-program event where they will be awarded their certificate for completing the CSI-SoTL program.


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CSI-SoTL: Helping Graduate Students Learn about the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

 

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

Last week, I identified several opportunities for ISU faculty, staff, and students in my blog post. This week, in an effort to define and explain a new program at ISU this fall, I will focus on one specific initiative: the Certificate of Specialized Instruction in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CSI-SoTL). The CSI-SoTL program was developed following two successful SoTL Reading Circles in the summers of 2015 and 2016. Students indicated a need for expanded programming, which I have endeavored to provide.

This program was co-developed by the Office of the Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL and the Graduate School at ISU to provide expanded opportunities for graduate students to engage in study and reflection of research on teaching and learning to facilitate successful work as students and as future faculty.

The following provides a bit more information about why the CSI-SoTL program was developed, who might benefit from participating, and what the program will look like as it unfolds this academic year:

Program Benefits

Through a focus on understanding SoTL, learning about how to apply SoTL and thinking about conducting SoTL research, the CSI-SoTL program is aimed at helping participants succeed as students, teachers, and researchers. As many future college/university teachers lack opportunities for purposeful study and reflection on teaching and learning as part of their graduate school experience, this program provides a unique opportunity for participants to gain knowledge and skills in these areas.

All students who complete the certificate program will be provided a certificate and letter of completion for the program that can be appended to professional vitas/resumes in the future to indicate their focused study and reflection in the area of SoTL.

Aims

Participants the CSI-SoTL program will develop a thorough understanding of the purpose, definition and applications of the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) to support current and future teaching, learning, and research efforts. Specifically, through in-depth discussions and reflection on SoTL, participants in this program will:

  • Conceptualize SoTL as a form of action, practitioner, classroom-based research
  • Understand the impact of SoTL upon their own teaching and learning
  • Apply SoTL to improve their own teaching and learning
  • Become familiar with resources that facilitate scholarly teaching and SoTL
  • Develop/plan a SoTL research project to conduct in the future

Process

Throughout the year, participants in the CSI-SoTL program are expected to:

  1. Attend a series of three fall seminars*, including:
    • SoTL and My Teaching and Learning 
    • Planning a SoTL Project A (Methods)
    • Sharing a SoTL Project B (Dissemination) 
  2. Develop a SoTL research project in consultation with a faculty SoTL research mentor. Research plans will include research questions, methods, and a plan for dissemination (please note that participants do NOT have to complete their research project, they simply need to outline a plan for a potential SoTL project). Participants will be matched with a faculty member as close to their disciplinary field as possible. Times will be arranged individually for each participant for this part of the CSI-SoTL program in January and February of 2017.
  3. Systematically reflect on their experiences in learning about SoTL while completing the CSI-SoTL program, focusing on the impact of the program on future teaching, learning, and research endeavors. A specific format will be provided as a starting place for all reflections. Reflections will be submitted in April/May 2017.

*Please note that participants will be asked to prepare for each session with a brief reading assignment and a brief written reflection.

Current Program Status

Happily, I can report that over a dozen graduate students are enrolled and are set to begin the CSI-SoTL program in early October. Careful study of this program is planned with outcomes shared here on this blog in the summer of 2017.


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Fall SoTL Offerings @ ISU

Redbirds, there are a bevy of SoTL opportunities for you this fall supported by the Office of the Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL at Illinois State University. Please direct questions about these offerings to Jennifer Friberg, Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL (jfribe@ilstu.edu).

SoTL Workshops & Trainings

Interested in learning about SoTL? The 2-workshop Introduction to SoTL series (9/29 and 11/10 from 12:30-2pm) is just the thing for you. Designed to introduce attendees to SoTL, describe ways to engage in SoTL inquiry, and examine the benefits of SoTL as part of a productive research agenda, these sessions are intended for faculty/staff/students with little to no prior experience with SoTL. These workshops will be facilitated by Jen Friberg and are open to attendees from all disciplines represented at ISU.

For those with SoTL experience, a workshop called “Measuring Out-of-Class Learning” (11/8 from 1-3pm) was designed to help faculty evaluate student learning via opportunities such as study abroad, service learning and other civic engagement experiences. This workshop will be facilitated by Erin Mikulec (TCH) and Jen Friberg. Faculty from all disciplines are welcome to attend.

Certificate for Specialized Training in SoTL for Graduate Students

The Office of the Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL has partnered with ISU’s Graduate School in developing the Certificate for Specialized Training in SoTL (CSI-SoTL) for graduate students to engage in study and reflection of research on teaching and learning to facilitate successful work as students and as future faculty. All students who complete the certificate program will be provided a certificate and letter of completion for the program that can be appended to professional vitas/resumes in the future to indicate their focused study and reflection in the area of SoTL. The CSI-SoTL program will feature a series of workshops, opportunities to plan a SoTL project with a faculty mentor, and systematic reflection on learning across the experience.

Travel Grants (FY 17)

Applications are currently being accepted for ISU’s SoTL Travel Grant Program – FY17. The program is designed to encourage public sharing of SoTL work related to the teaching and/or learning of ISU students. The program provides partial funding for travel to present SoTL work. Funds up to $700 per application/conference will be awarded. Funds may be used toward conference registration and/or travel costs. This applies to a trip already taken (and not fully reimbursed) or to be taken, to present SoTL work this fiscal year. We expect to award 8-10 grants for FY17. Please note that faculty/staff are eligible for one travel grant (of any kind) per year. Applications are due by October 3, 2016 OR February 6, 2017.

Gauisus

Submissions for Gauisus, ISU’s internal, multimedia SoTL publication are invited at this time (Submission deadline: January 16, 2017). Faculty, staff, and/or students at ISU are invited to submit SoTL work to Gauisus. All scholarly submissions will be peer reviewed in a manner appropriate to the format of the work submitted. Those interested in submitting SoTL work can use a variety of formats for publication in GAUISUS, any of which could demonstrate a scholarly study of the teaching or learning of our students:

  • Research paper/note (15-30 double-spaced page manuscript, 12 point font, APA format)
  • Electronic poster
  • Any of the following, accompanied by a 1-2 page written summary to contextualize content, situation, and impact of your work: photo essay, video essay/documentary, website, blog, wiki. Other representations will be considered, as well.

We are also looking for faculty, staff, and/or students who are interested in serving as reviewers for this issue of GAUISUS. Reviewers will be asked to review 1-2 submissions between December 2016 (early submissions) and late February 2017 and will have their names listed within the publication as members of the review board. Reviewers may be asked to review resubmissions, if necessary. To volunteer, interested individuals should submit, electronically, a current curriculum vita/resume, highlighting editorial reviewer experience and/or SoTL work or relevant sections from a CV to  Jennifer Friberg, (jfribe@ilstu.edu) by 4:00 pm on Monday, November 7, 2015.

 


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New Issue of JoSoTL Available

The most recent issue of the Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (Editor-in-Chief: Michael Morrone, Indiana University) has been published, featuring seven articles focused on diverse topics such as the impact of gratitude on focus and resilience in learning, in-class vs. out-of-class learning, assessment, and attitudes toward technology. Articles have been linked below with abstracts excerpted directly from the JoSoTL website. Happy reading!

Brightening the Mind: The Impact of Practicing Gratitude on Focus and Resilience in Learning

Author: Jane Taylor Wilson

A growing body of groundbreaking research shows that gratitude has the power to heal, energize, and transform lives by enhancing people psychologically, spiritually, physically, and cognitively. This study contributes to the study of gratitude by exploring its impact on focus and resilience in learning. Specifically, this study examines the impact that practicing gratitude has on college students’ ability to focus in class and remain resilient in the face of difficulties while learning.

An Investigation of the Relationship between In-Class and Out-of-Class Efforts on Student Learning: Empirical Evidence and Strategy Suggestion

Author: Tin-Chun Lin

In this paper we explore and discuss an important research question in higher education – is there a trade-off relationship between in-class and out-of-class efforts for students? We used an empirical model to test the trade-off hypothesis between these two efforts. We identified a trade-off between in-class and out-of-class efforts, especially for those students who do not perform well on examinations. We clarified possible reasons for this relationship in a lower-performing student group and noted potentially harmful implications for higher education. We recommended that instructors work individually with students in setting appropriate goals for each exam and frequently offering feedback. Doing so can strengthen rapport between students and faculty, thereby enhancing students’ motivation to learn and confidence in utilizing faculty as a learning resource. We also recommended a classroom-based game play strategy to promote students’ motivation to learn and encourage their participation.

You Can Lead Students to Water, but You Can’t Make Them Think: An Assessment of Student Engagement and Learning though Student-Centered Teaching

Authors: Jennifer Bradford, Denise Mowder, & Joy Bohte

The current project conducted an assessment of three student-centered teaching techniques in a criminal justice and criminology research methods class: Team-Based Learning, Incentive-Based Learning, and Flipped Classroom. The project sought to ascertain to what extent these techniques improved or impacted student learning outcomes and engagement in this traditionally difficult course. Results provide empirical evidence that students were significantly engaged with the course and benefited from these pedagogical techniques.

Moving Beyond Assessment to Improving Students’ Critical Thinking Skills: A Model for Implementing Change

Authors: Ada Haynes, Elizabeth Lisic, Michele Goltz, Barry Stein, & Kevin Harris

This research examines how the use of the CAT (Critical thinking Assessment Test) and involvement in CAT-Apps (CAT Applications within the discipline) training can serve as an important part of a faculty development model that assists faculty in the assessment of students’ critical thinking skills and in the development of these skills within their courses. Seventy-five percent of faculty participating in a CAT scoring workshop at their institution reported greater understanding of students’ strengths and weaknesses in critical thinking and 45% reported that CAT scoring had changed their teaching practices and/or assessment. In addition, participants attending a training session on CAT-Apps reported a greater willingness to place more emphasis on critical thinking assessments and less on factual knowledge assessments in their courses as a result of participation in training.

Assessing Public Health Majors thought the Use of e-Portfolios

Authors: Tara L. Crowell & Elizabeth Calamidas

When assessing an entire academic program, there are various possibilities; most require students to reflect holistically on knowledge learned. Final presentations, internships, theses, and dissertations all require the students to recall the entirety of their learning experience. These are more traditional ways to assess the student as well as the program as a whole. However, with advancement in technology, the use of electronic portfolios (e-Portfolios) has been advocated to highlight student accomplishments as well as to document program and course outcomes. The following project illustrates the use of e-portfolios and develops specific rubrics in order to measure both student learning and program assessment. The use of e-Portfolios as an assessment measure was developed and implemented into the Public Health Program. All graduating students, upon completing their internships, create an ePortfolio. These portfolios are used by faculty for both student and program assessment purposes. Data collected over the 7 semesters provides valuable insight into both students’ level of competencies and program outcomes for both Pubic Health core goals and objectives.

Using Indirect vs. Direct Measures in the Summative Assessment of Student Learning in Higher Education

Authors: Christine Luce & Jean P. Kirnan

Contradictory results have been reported regarding the accuracy of various methods used to assess student learning in higher education. The current study examined student learning outcomes across a multi-section and multi-instructor psychology research course with both indirect and direct assessments in a sample of 67 undergraduate students. The indirect method measured student perceived knowledge and abilities on course topics, while the direct method measured actual knowledge where students answered test questions or solved problems reflecting course content. Both measures independently demonstrated increases from pretest to post-test; however the indirect measure did not correlate with final course grades. Results also showed respondents scoring lower on the direct measure were overconfident (as measured by indirect score) in their perceived knowledge and ability, the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Based on our findings, we concluded that the indirect method was not an accurate measure of student learning, but may have benefits as an instructional tool.

“I Tolerate Technology – I Don’t Embrace It”: Instructor Surprise and Sensemaking in a Technology-Rich Learning Environment

Authors: Jennifer Fairchild, Eric B. Meiners, & Jayne Violette

Assuming a dialectical approach to technology and pedagogy, this study explores sensemaking processes for instructors teaching in a technologically enhanced college classroom environment. Through a series of semi-structured individual and group interviews, seven instructors provided narrative accounts of the problems encountered with progressive instructional technology and their emergent strategies to make sense of and manage it. Three primary dialectical tensions were described: freedom vs. confinement, connectedness vs. fragmentation, and change vs. stability. Two related modes of sensemaking in response to these tensions were also uncovered: adaptation, involving day-to-day adjustments to non-routine failures, and reframing, entailing gradual reflection upon the instructors’ roles in the classroom. Implications for the current findings are discussed.


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One Idea for Introducing Graduate Students to SoTL: An Interactive Reading Circle

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

SoTL Reading Group 1

In May and June of this year, the Office of the Cross Chair in SoTL sponsored its second annual SoTL Reading Circle for graduate students. Eight students representing varied disciplines (special education, English, sociology, psychology, history, politics and government, geology, and women’s and gender studies) met to learn about the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) and to consider how scholarly teaching and/or SoTL might fit into their lives. The goal of this reading circle was to help students to understand SoTL and its contributions to classrooms, programs, institutions, and disciplines through:

  • exploration of the definitions of scholarly teaching and SoTL
  • identification of possible student roles in scholarly teaching and SoTL
  • discussion of how knowledge of SoTL can enhance teaching and learning
  • conversation centered around topical assigned readings.

I acted as the facilitator for the reading circle and worked to structure our meetings to invite discussion about teaching and learning. Adhering to Gutman, Sergison, Martin, and Berstein’s (2010, p. 36) conceptualization of ownership as a “linchpin for collaboration,” it was a priority for students to understand that SoTL was important to them as both students and as prospective faculty. We talked at length about their roles as scholarly teachers/learners and as scholars of teaching and learning and together generated the following lists of tips for both roles:

Tips for Scholarly Teaching and Learning

  • Find out if your discipline has its own pedagogical journal. Seek it out. Read articles of interest to you. Think about how the research on teaching and learning that you read about is similar to or different from “traditional” research in your discipline. Reflect on these similarities and differences.
  • Think about potential faculty mentors who engage in scholarship on teaching and learning. Set up opportunities to talk with them about their experiences. Ask them to be “meta” and walk you through their thought processes in terms of setting up or reading scholarship on teaching and learning.
  • Consider scholarship on teaching and learning with a “consumer’s mindset.” Even though SoTL is contextualized, reflect on outcomes from scholarship with an eye towards application to support your own teaching and/or learning efforts and use what you learn to improve your practices.

Tips for Scholars of Teaching and Learning

  • Think carefully about your teaching and learning wonderments. Look toward past inquiry to see what has been studied and consider how your research question(s) can be adapted to make new contributions.
  • Seek out mentors to help you structure your project. Invite them – or others – to collaborate with you.
  • Don’t feel as though your SoTL needs to look like the scholarship done by other individuals. Design a project that reflects your interests (in terms of your research question), methods that make sense within your discipline, and ways to share your outcomes that are appropriate to the work you’ve done.
  • Use the resources around you to work smarter and find support for your scholarship (we discussed specific resources here at ISU via the Office of the Cross Chair, including grants, trainings, blog, website).
  • Consider SoTL from a “producer’s mindset,” and think about strategic ways to share your work with others to improve teaching and learning on your campus and beyond.

We engaged in discussions across multiple shared readings from journal articles as well as from The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in and Across the Disciplines (McKinney, 2013). Students drafted possible research questions and collaborated to determine ways in which their questions could be studied. All in all, we spent five hours together having really interesting conversations about teaching and learning. Two students from this summer’s reading circle cohort are currently seeking disciplinary mentors for a SoTL project, to which I say, “hooray!”

Student interest in this past summer’s reading circle opportunity was immense and led to an upcoming collaboration with ISU’s Graduate School for the 2016-17 academic year. My office will be co-piloting a Certificate of Special Instruction in SoTL for graduate students, providing systematic study of scholarly teaching and SoTL as well as a guided experience in planning a SoTL project under the direction of a mentor (hopefully from the student’s discipline…stay tuned!). We are excited to have a new mechanism to introduce graduate students to SoTL and look forward to sharing outcomes from this endeavor in the not-too-distant future.

Blog References:

Gutman, E. E., Sergison, E. M., Martin, C. J., & Bernstein, J. L. (2010). Engaging students as scholars in teaching and learning: The role of ownership. In Werder, C. & Otis, M. (Eds.). Engaging student voices in the study of teaching and learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

McKinney, K. (2013). The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in and Across the Disciplines. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.