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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An Idea for the First Days of the Fall Term – Share SoTL with Your Students!

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

Screen Shot 2018-08-13 at 2.01.02 PMBack in April, I wrote a blog regarding the impact of SoTL that was inspired by my reading of this article by Nancy Chick. I’ve thought a lot about the notion of impact since that time, considering how we encourage changes in teaching and learning as a result of our SoTL efforts. I’ve engaged in conversations with numerous colleagues (on my campus and at others) about how they adapt their teaching praxis in the presence of good evidence to do so. As a result of these exchanges, I feel at least somewhat confident that our SoTL work IS making change; however, these conversations have left me wondering if we aren’t missing a huge opportunity to truly increase the impact of our SoTL efforts and outcomes. In no conversation about how SoTL has changed our teaching and learning did anyone I spoke with discuss sharing SoTL with their students. There was discussion about changing course content, assessment, or management, but each of these things was described as occurring in relative solitude as part of next generation course design.

I find it curious that we study our students to understand the components of meaningful learning and teaching experiences, but in doing so, (at least some of us) miss out on purposeful sharing of SoTL outcomes with our students so they can make changes to THEIR praxis as learners. We have generated so much evidence that shows us how students learn (and learn well!). They should have access to this information and it’s my strong opinion that we should help facilitate that access.

Here are a few thoughts as to how we might be more purposeful in bringing students into the SoTL loop — feel free to share other thoughts and ideas in the comments below:

  • Share information about relevant, evidence-based learning strategies as part of your class. Many course instructors have “syllabus review day” during the first course meeting of a new term. While there are great suggestions about alternative ideas for that first course meeting circulating social media this time of year, perhaps a focus on successful learning strategies might be a worthy way to spend that first class together. Share what you know about evidence-based learning strategies that might be useful for your students in your context. Let them know that you’re a resource and would be interested in answering questions about evidence-based strategies for learning. Provide resources for students to access this information themselves.
  • Mediate! Tell your students WHY you’ve designed your course or assignment or assessment in the manner that you have – share your evidence! I do this frequently with my students and have found that if I can provide the rationale for what they are doing, and that research has shown a pedagogical approach to be impactful, I have more buy-in and (anecdotally) more active engagement in the task(s) at hand.
  • Share what others in your discipline have identified as evidence-based learning strategies for emerging professionals. How do sociologists develop a sociological imagination? How do mathematicians generalize concepts to varied contexts? How do historians read a text and assess primary sources? How do speech-language pathologists, nurses, or dieticians transfer theory to clinical practice? SoTL has helped us understand these discipline-specific phenomena. Unlock these connections for students to visualize a path toward professional practice that is grounded in evidence.
  • Use your social media smartly. Does your university have a Twitter or Instagram account where you could populate content about evidence-based ways to learn or study? Can you feature links to and/or summaries of the work of SoTL scholars on your campus to highlight what you know about learning in your own institutional context? Can you manage (or co-manage) an account yourself that does this?
  • Offer to guest “lecture” about evidence-based learning at a meeting of a student organization tied to your discipline or some other movement. Talk to students about research on teaching and learning and how outcomes of such research can support their work as students. There is evidence that out-of-class learning through student organizations, service learning, and civic engagement have efficacy. Let students know the benefits of these efforts!
  • Take care in making assumptions about what students know. Based on the fact that our students are enrolled at our colleges/universities, it would be easy to think that they have unlocked the mysteries of learning deeply and well. They wouldn’t be college students if they hadn’t accomplished that, right? I’m not convinced this is actually the case. I have spoken to numerous students who engage in low utility learning strategies to master material who are frustrated with their lack of ability to make connections and applications across topics and classes. My bias? Assume that your students would be interested to know more about teaching and learning until you know differently.

Writing on a similar topic, McKinney (2012, p. 3) suggested the following strategies for bringing students to SoTL, specifically by discussing the “how” and the “why” of SoTL research and findings emerging from such inquiry:

  • Make SoTL public at conferences students attend and in publications students read.
    Create a local SoTL journal or newsletter aimed specifically at college students at
    your institution or a national/international one for students in a specific major or
    discipline.
  • Use SoTL publications as required readings in courses where they are appropriate
    such as a disciplinary/department new majors‟ orientation class, a research methods course, a capstone course, or a professional socialization course.
    Facilitate and invite students to sessions on learning on campus that share, and
    discuss implications of, local SoTL results.
  • Volunteer to create a session at your disciplinary meetings focusing on key SoTL
    results and explicitly involve and invite students.
  • Add a section of relevant SoTL study results and any implications for students to
    your department website within the web pages for students.
  • Help organize a panel where SoTL researchers present and lead a discussion with
    students at a meeting of your student disciplinary/department club.
  • Include in your courses, when appropriate, reflective and meta-cognitive
    assignments that help students relate SoTL literature and findings to their own
    learning opportunities and behaviors.

 

Blog References:

McKinney, K. (2012). Increasing the impact of SoTL: Two sometimes neglected opportunities. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 6(1).

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Assessing the Integration of SoTL in Your Discipline: Four Questions

Written by Kathleen McKinney, Professor of Sociology and Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL, Emeritus at Illinois State University

mixI view the integration of SoTL in a discipline in terms of four questions: 1. To what degree are theories, methods, and general findings of a discipline, if relevant, used in SoTL research in the discipline? 2. Is there strong disciplinary support, respect, and reward for SoTL? 3. What are the forms and degree of involvement in SoTL in the discipline? 4. To what extent do colleagues in the discipline actually use or apply SoTL findings to the practice of teaching and understanding learning in that discipline? I have attempted to answer these questions and suggest strategies to increase integration in my own discipline of Sociology (McKinney, 2018). I hope this blog post will encourage others to do the same for their own disciplines.

I offer a few possible factors to measure in your attempt to answer these four questions about integration of SoTL in your discipline. I encourage blog readers to comment on this blog post with additional ideas of ways to answer these questions.

  1. The first question about the integration of SoTL concerns the extent that perspectives, theory and/or methods from your discipline in general are used in SoTL research, specifically, in your discipline. Of course, the extent to which this form of integration is possible varies by discipline. For example, those of us in Education or the Social Science fields are especially likely to have disciplinary theory or methods that work for SoTL. To assess this question, you could count and analyze the content of presentations or publication outlets that discuss discipline-specific theory or method and how these might be used in disciplinary SoTL. Finding existing, or conducting, research studies on SoTL that gather data and draw conclusions about the actual use of disciplinary theory and/or methods in SoTL research in your field would be another strategy.
  2. The second question of integration is to what extent there is support for SoTL projects and making those projects public including resources, respect and reward within your discipline. Such support should be at both the academic department or unit level and in your professional organizations or similar structures. To assess support at the department level, faculty and graduate students could complete surveys or be interviewed about department funding and assistance for SoTL; the status of SoTL compared to other research and scholarship in the department; how Chairs, Directors or senior faculty view SoTL; in what ways graduate students are taught about or encouraged to do SoTL; and how SoTL is rewarded in the department both informally and formally. Additional variables to measure or find include grant dollars for SoTL research, number or prestige of awards/recognitions for SoTL involvement or products, outlets for making SoTL public, explicit statements of support for SoTL in strategic plans or mission statements or similar documents, and availability of opportunities to learn about SoTL. Similarly, such data should be collected at the level of disciplinary professional organizations.
  3. The third question to assess integration of SoTL in your discipline is to what degree and in what ways are colleagues involved in disciplinary SoTL in your department or in the discipline as a whole. Quantitative data on the number of SoTL presentations and publications by those in your discipline during a given time frame could be gathered and compared to other research in the discipline. Measuring involvement could also include finding out what percent of faculty, staff and graduate students in your department or in your discipline (across departments or institutions) participate in various SoTL activities. For example, how many conduct SoTL studies, serve as reviewers of the SoTL work of others in the discipline, mentor others or teach about SoTL, and serve in leadership positions in SoTL organizations, etc. A related measure would be how much time colleagues spend in such SoTL activities relative to other disciplinary work.
  4. The fourth question is to what extent SoTL is integrated in your discipline through the process of applying the findings of disciplinary SoTL studies to practice: teaching and learning in your discipline at classroom, course, program, department, and cross-department levels. One way to assess this integration is to find out whether disciplinary organizations or task forces have used SoTL results to come up with best practices for teaching/learning or curriculum in the discipline. Related to this is to study the extent to which such best practices in the derived from SoTL are followed within and across disciplinary departments. Another way to get a sense of the extent to which and at what levels SoTL findings are being applied in your discipline is to look at the foci of disciplinary SoTL work perhaps by analyzing the content of disciplinary SoTL publication outlets or coding the content of SoTL presentations in the discipline. More specifically, you could measure at what levels SoTL is conducted and results are applied? What percent of these publications and presentations include explicit discussions of how the authors have applied their or other’s SoTL disciplinary findings to make changes in teaching or curriculum or other practices? You could also survey department leaders for concrete examples of changes made and the SoTL research findings that led to these changes.

My belief is that SoTL is not sufficiently integrated in many disciplines despite the suggestion and use of numerous strategies to increase such integration over the last two-three decades. I do think some general mechanisms have more promise than others at this juncture in the development of the field of SoTL. These include choosing disciplinary leaders who support¾or educating and co-opting leaders to support SoTL; using social change strategies involving both grassroots and top-down techniques; socializing future generations of graduate students and new faculty to the value of SoTL before or early in their careers; linking SoTL research to existing priorities of the discipline at various levels (e.g., department, cross-institutions, professional organizations); connecting more disciplinary colleagues to the networks, organizations and activities of the cross-discipline and international field of SoTL; conducting and using SoTL beyond one’s own individual classroom; and encouraging a focus on application and impact of SoTL results in the discipline. All of these, I believe, can help to make SoTL normative and expected in your discipline.

McKinney, K. 2018. “The Integration of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in to the Discipline of Sociology.” Teaching Sociology 46(2): 123-134.

 

 

 


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A Look Back at FY18 – SoTL Involvement at ISU

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

gladlyred

Looking back over the last fiscal year (FY 19 started at the beginning of July here in Normal), it is clear that student and faculty involvement in scholarship of teaching and learning via workshops, funding, consultations, and other opportunities is growing AND that those involved in SoTL are representing a wide array of colleges and disciplines across campus. Happily, the Office of the Cross Chair has had a hand in helping our campus live it’s motto of gladly learning and teaching…from an evidence-based perspective! Gladly we SoTL!

For faculty, a variety of supports were offered throughout the year:

  • Three different “Intro to SoTL” workshops were developed, with the final workshop in May based on establishing a cohort of faculty who intend to plan and execute SoTL projects in the coming year with continued support and scaffolding from my office.
  • An IRB workshop, co-hosted with folks from our Research Ethics and Compliance office, to review SoTL-focused issues related to IRB changes on our campus and at a national level.
  • An external speaker, Dr. David Pace, came to ISU in March to present two workshops on Decoding the Disciplines. A follow-up meeting of attendees was held in May to plan projects for the coming year.
  • $20,000 in University Research Grant monies were awarded to fund five faculty-student teams to complete SoTL projects across four colleges and four academic departments/schools.
  • Over $15,000 in travel grants (with awards ranging from $700-1000) were allocated to faculty to present SoTL findings at local, national, and international disciplinary and SoTL conferences. Awardees represented five colleges and six academic department/schools.
  • Individual $250 SoTL Seed Grants were awarded to fund work being done by 15 “new-to-SoTL” scholars hailing from five colleges and nine academic departments/schools.

In sum, faculty from 26 of the 35 departments/schools at ISU (74%) had faculty involved in one or more the SoTL opportunities described above. This represents an increase of 4 departments/schools from FY17 totals. The exact breakdown of FY18 SoTL involvement by college is represented below:

SoTLFY18

Not included in these data (yet) are individual faculty consultations or student-focused initiatives that engaged students from 7 departments and 4 colleges over the course of the year, through programs such as CSI-SoTL and individual consultations for dissertation and other research projects.

ISU faculty and students should watch their inboxes (campus mail and email!) for FY19 SoTL opportunities, including the establishment of work groups for “first-timers” conducting SoTL projects, SoTLists engaged in Decoding the Disciplines work, a half-day “how to manage qualitative data” workshop, a lunchtime brown bag series of discussion topics (the first is slated as advice and guidance on recruiting students as research co-inquirers)…and more!

Questions about SoTL at ISU? Email me anytime: jfribe@ilstu.edu

 

*Art credit for the “gladly we learn and teach” image above to Molly Friberg.


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Updated Advice for New SoTL Researchers

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

Screen Shot 2018-06-23 at 6.48.06 PM.pngAlmost three years ago, I penned a blog post titled Advice for New SoTL Researchers. In that post, I offered seven suggestions for those just getting started with a SoTL research agenda. In the last few months, I’ve had the good fortune to work with several cohorts of faculty and students who are part of “Intro to SoTL” cohorts. In working with them, I realize that the advice I offer to new researchers has changed. So, the following is my best effort at updating a list of things that new SoTL scholars might want to keep in mind.

  1. Design your project carefully. Examine the macro (classroom-level) context around you, looking for problems, opportunities, or wonderments that might be the basis for a SoTL project. Do you have a new technology that you’re wanting to integrate in your class, but aren’t sure it will work? Are you teaching an evening section of a very large class and you have an idea about improving student engagement? Might there be a way to study an out-of-class learning experience you’ve set up for your students? All of these – and many others! – could be a great place to start!
  2. Once you have a glimmer of an idea of the topic you might like to study, search for teaching and learning research in your field or another that might demonstrate how your topic has been studied in the past. Because SoTL research functions to provide a snapshot of your teaching/learning context at a point in time, it is fine to replicate a project that has already been done to see if similar outcomes are evident in your context. That said, reviewing past literature might drive you in a different research direction or provide an idea of how other scholars have approached research design in the past.
  3. Talk to a person who has completed a SoTL project and ask for advice or consultation. I have found individuals involved in teaching and learning research to be some of the most giving and collaborative colleagues I’ve encountered. Most would be quite happy to share lessons learned or chat about your idea(s) for a project. Seek out experienced SoTL scholars and learn with and from them. Then, when it’s your turn to be the experienced mentor, offer your wisdom often and broadly.
  4. Choose your data source wisely. There are SO many options in terms of potential data sources for SoTL work. As we are studying teaching and learning, SoTL scholars frequently use class artifacts, assessments, or reflections as a source for data. Other surveys, interviews, or focus groups beyond the typical business of your course might be useful. You are only limited by your own lack of creativity here. Carefully asses the focus of your project to suss out the richest sources of data for your study. Think about direct vs. indirect sources and the impact of your data on the overall rigor and quality of your work. Identifying a data source for your work should not be a quick decision, but rather, a careful deliberation.
  5. Consider more than one data source. As there are inherent biases in SoTL (e.g., it’s not meant to be inherently generalizable in most cases, we study our own students, true randomization or control is hard to exert), it’s optimal to have at least two data sources to compare and contrast to help validate the conclusions that you draw.
  6. Analyze and interpret your data appropriately. This piece of advice likely doesn’t need a lot of explanation; however, I would simply offer that you should think carefully about whether a qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods approach to data analysis and interpretation is best for your corpus of data. Don’t force a fit, just finesse what you have so that the path to understanding your teaching/learning question is clear.
  7. Think about the audiences most suited for your work as you plan to share it with peers and others. Don’t assume that the potential audience for your work is broad and cross-disciplinary if your project only studies a phenomenon that is part of your discipline. Conversely, if your SoTL project focuses on a topic that has multi-disciplinary appeal, don’t narrow your audience unnecessarily. Share, publish, and promote your work in meaningful contexts with the individuals who will find it valuable!
  8. Put students at the heart of your SoTL. It has been well-stated that the heart of SoTL is the classroom. I choose to interpret this sentiment as not just a reminder that the single classroom context is the typical and intended focus of SoTL. Rather, I believe that the heart of SoTL subsumes the entire classroom environment and all the stakeholders within. Yes, you may study your students as research participants, but does that preclude you from sharing what you’ve learned with them? That is an opportunity that is often missed, in my view. Also, why not invite students to assist with your SoTL with the same frequency that you invite them into your disciplinary research? From my experience, it’s valuable for your students AND for you.

Of course, this is in NO way an exhaustive list of recommendations for new SoTL researchers. What is represented here is a continued starting place, on that will likely continue to evolve. Maybe three years from now, I’ll feel obligated/motivated to revise this list again! Until then, happy SoTL-ing! J


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Perspectives on the Intro to SoTL Experience: An Invitation to Share and Collaborate

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

introductionIn the last few years, I’ve learned that there are a variety of ways that institutions of higher education introduce faculty and students to the scholarship of teaching and learning. At Illinois State, we have traditionally offered at least one “Intro to SoTL” workshop each semester (so, typically one in the spring and one in the fall) along with a variety of supports throughout the year to support SoTL work: 1:1 consultations, use of a SoTL Resource Group of disciplinary SoTL mentors, grants for research and travel, a robust website, etc. These opportunities have mostly focused on faculty; however, opportunities such as University Research Grants (which require student involvement as a co-investigator) and the certificate program in SoTL for graduate students do allow students access, as well.

Looking toward the future, I’m wondering what the most effective ways might be to “read” new folks into research on teaching and learning. I have feedback from colleagues on my campus on this topic, in addition to input from other institutions I’ve visited to provide intro to SoTL workshops and experiences. That said, I am eager to understand such experiences across a broader group of stakeholders and contexts.

To this end, I am wondering if any faculty, students, or SoTL professional developers might be interested in writing or contributing to a blog to explore the intro to SoTL process a bit. Specifically, I’d be interested in hearing from individuals who can:

  • describe an innovative model for intro to SoTL professional development opportunities or supports
  • discusses the sometimes tricky topic of explaining research methodologies in the context of an intro to SoTL experience
  • describes mechanisms to involve multiple campus units to support an intro to SoTL opportunity
  • shares data to assess the impact or outcomes of intro to SoTL professional development
  • profiles how advocacy for SoTL is integrated into an intro to SoTL experience
  • provides “lessons learned” from their first SoTL study or first SoTL mentorship experience
  • explain how a SoTL mentor supported and/or encouraged SoTL development or productivity

Other ideas are welcome, as well, as the list above is certainly not exhaustive.

If there’s interest, I’ve also been thinking about putting a group of SoTL professional developers together to share ideas and materials for intro to SoTL efforts. 

Folks interested in sharing their experiences and/or perspectives (through either a blog post, blog collaboration, or Intro group) are invited to contact me via email with ideas or questions (jfribe@ilstu.edu). Potential contributors should read conventions for blog posts on the SoTL Advocate, which were highlighted in a recent blog.


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Reflections on the College Art Association’s 2018 SoTL Bootcamp

Written by Alysha Meloche, Ph.D. student at Drexel University’s School of Education (author bio provided at end of blog post). This blog was cross-posted on the Art History Teaching Resources blog

In February, the College Art Association’s (CAA’s) Education Committee organized a one-day Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Bootcamp in conjunction with its 2018 Annual Conference. Supported by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the University of Southern California, AHSC (Art Historians of Southern California), and CAA, this free workshop attracted about 30 participants interested in learning more about SoTL. (What’s SoTL? Click here)  Modeled on the THATcamps at CAA from 2013 to 2015 that introduced more members to digital art history, this year’s SoTL Bootcamp similarly aimed to increase awareness of SoTL and to encourage artists and art historians to pursue this emerging area of research.

Why do SoTL?  The Bigger Picture

The SoTL Bootcamp took place on USC’s campus on Saturday in an effort to allow faculty with heavier teaching loads to attend. As participants arrived, a shared commitment to arts education quickly became obvious. In light of threats to institutional art programs and government funding, many instructors spoke about a need to “bring something back” that could convince their administration that study of the arts and humanities is a worthy pursuit. This shared concern offered the foundation for rich discussions on topics such as equitable assessment practices, no-cost textbook options, direct learning experiences, and ideas to help artists and art historians engage with SoTL on their home campuses. (Notes, comments, and programming details of the SoTL Bootcamp are archived on the CAA Commons and Twitter #CAASoTL.

Important to this conversation is the position that SoTL not only improves teaching and learning in higher education, but that it can effectively advocate for the value of the arts and a liberal education. However, for SoTL to have significant impact, faculty in art and art history must be open to learning more about a field where we are currently novices. These kinds of big picture issues were addressed in lightning talks throughout the day by experts in art history, SoTL, and educational research.

How do we begin?  Expanding Our Skill Sets To Engage with SoTL

The Bootcamp’s break-out sessions provided an opportunity to exchange ideas on particular issues. These informal conversations revealed that while art and art history educators are very good at sharing ideas about teaching and learning with each other, we are less prepared to discuss them with others outside the field.  Despite the fact that we are experts in our subject and skillful in our teaching, our academic training and research methods differ from SoTL, which emphasizes generalizable evidence of effective teaching and learning. This difference was the focus of an interactive workshop for art and art history instructors who want to develop their own educational research projects.

Led by SoTL scholar Nancy Chick from the University of Calgary, the workshop highlighted types of SoTL inquiry that would better understand student learning in our classrooms and how it could be improved, and also studies that would examine teaching approaches and practices that affect student learning. Although Chick draws on methods from the field of educational research, she reframes them in a way to promote interdisciplinary understanding.

Workshop Takeaways

Read what other people are doing.

You wouldn’t write on a topic without reviewing the most recent publications, so first read about SoTL when you begin to develop a project. Take a look at AHTR’s SoTL Resources page and their 2015 literature review on SoTL-AH, and Chick’s  bibliography specifically for humanists interested in SoTL. Since SoTL in art and art history is still limited, you should consult educational research from other fields that address similar teaching methods or concepts, and explore theoretical frameworks in Learning Science, and Ed Psych that differ from your own creative or scholarly practice.

Collect evidence of student learning.

Teachers often collect artifacts that demonstrate student learning; in fact, looking to see if students achieve course objectives is one of the most important aspects of our jobs. But this type of assessment typically occurs after we teach the material.  When was the last time you looked for evidence of student knowledge before they begin a new topic or course? Or conducted a longitudinal follow-up by looking for retention of information a few months after the learning took place? It may not be as frequent. However, conducting pre and post-tests are a great way to see the real effects of an intentional change in one’s teaching practice. There are a lot of different types of evidence of student learning ranging from quantitative surveys and tests, to qualitative questionnaires or discussions (or both!). The best options are usually unique to each research project and beyond the scope of this reflection, but for those of us outside the social sciences, this article provides a useful overview.

Publish it!

If a teacher has a good idea that clearly worked in the classroom then they should consider sharing it in the spirit of promoting best practices in the field. Such publication should include the specific context of the study (Who? Where? When?), the literature that informed their approach, the details of what they did, and a summary of the data (which is just another word for evidence) they collected along with details of their analysis. In addition to Art History Pedagogy and Practice, here is a list of other SoTL publications to explore.  

Publish it (even if it doesn’t work)!

The field of SoTL can learn just as much from a study that was unsuccessful as one that was outstanding. Everyone wants to be the person who came up with an idea that works for everybody, but success every time is not a reasonable expectation for teachers in the classroom.

Overwhelmed, overworked? Collaborate.

The process of conducting SoTL demands additional time in the form of planning, collecting evidence of student learning, data analysis, and publishing. Collaborating with peer can be a great benefit, and allows you to build on one another’s different experiences and areas of expertise. According to some journal standards, having someone other than the teacher collect and analyze evidence of student learning makes that information stronger.

Leverage your strengths.

Although SoTL requires art educators to step out of their disciplinary expertise, Nancy Chick insists that our particular area of knowledge is an important asset to SoTL practice.  After all, who knows our classroom better than we do? Chick’s workshop was empowering because she pointed out that, in many ways, we all perform SoTL. If a teacher takes feedback from course evaluations they may make an adjustment to their practice. If a teacher notes that students did not grasp a particular concept when grading a test they may change the way that they teach or evaluate that concept next time. Both of these are examples of analyzing and utilizing evidence from the classroom.

The hurdle before us is how we share the context and details of our teaching experiments in a way that is usable and repeatable for others. Anecdotal evidence shared on blogs like the AHTR Weekly, social media, or during informal gatherings can be amazingly helpful (especially for new teachers!), but without guidelines to ensure academic rigor, these findings lack the scholarly credibility to have broad impact.

Conclusion:  Why should CAA promote and encourage SoTL?

In 2002 the National Research Council (NRC) published a treatise outlining what they considered to be the standards for Science-based research in education. It was an effort to encourage and promote better quality research that policy makers could use to inform their decisions. Despite initial and continued skepticism and dialogue among researchers in the field, the standards persist. Organizations that provide funding to research the arts look for these qualities:

  1. Pose Significant Questions That Can Be Investigated Empirically
  2. Link Research to Relevant Theory
  3. Use Methods That Permit Direct Investigation of the Question
  4. Provide a Coherent and Explicit Chain of Reasoning
  5. Replicate and Generalize Across Studies
  6. Disclose Research to Encourage Professional Scrutiny and Critique

CAA’s SoTL bootcamp was part of a larger movement to empower academics and teachers of the arts to advocate for the many benefits that an art education can provide to students. Such an empowerment will involve a shift in the way art academics have traditionally approached research. However, as the many participants who were present at the bootcamp know, art scholars are great at research. Such a movement will take energetic and passionate individuals, meaningful collaborations, and sustained discussion. As the arts face adversity in changing times, CAA and other arts organizations should promote more SoTL professional development as a strategic priority.

Alysha Meloche is a Ph.D. student and researcher at Drexel University’s School of Education and was one of four Kress SoTL Fellows participating in the Bootcamp. Her research interests include transformative critical theory in creativity and aesthetics that promotes equity and access. She intends to study approaches to Art History that instill creative confidence and identity in students. Some of the variables that interest her are the transformative aesthetic experience of observing art and the effect of being taught the creative process through examples from history. Before joining Drexel University, Meloche earned both her B.A. and M.A. in Art History from Temple University. She then worked for five years as an Art History and Design Professor.


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Ever Thought About Authoring a Blog Post for the SoTL Advocate?

laptopIf you haven’t thought about it, you should! The editor of the SoTL Advocate blog is seeking submissions from authors on any topic related to the scholarship of teaching and learning to share with a diverse readership. The SoTL Advocate seeks to share resources, information, and ideas related to SoTL with stakeholders all over the world. Manuscripts can be reflective or data-driven. Writings on topics such as the following are welcomed, though this is not an exhaustive list!

  • new or unique SoTL-based professional development opportunities
  • creative collaborations with other campus units at your institution or entities beyond your institution
  • descriptions of the genesis of ideas for SoTL reflection or study
  • reflections on the positives/negatives of certain methodological approaches for SoTL work
  • descriptions of how a published SoTL article might be applied in one classroom or beyond
  • impact of conference attendance on own research or SoTL programming
  • SoTL book reviews
  • student reflections of involvement in SoTL work
  • faculty reflections of successes in scaffolding, developing, or engaging in SoTL work with students
  • sharing of resources for SoTL stakeholders
  • stories of SoTL advocacy in, across, or beyond a single university or public context

About the Blog: The SoTL Advocate blog was established in the fall of 2014 by the Office of the Cross Endowed Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at Illinois State University (ISU) to highlight interesting SoTL work and encourage discussion within the SoTL community on various topics of interest to those working on SoTL at ISU and beyond. It is the goal of the SoTL Advocate that blogs will feature viewpoints of a diverse authorship, discussing SoTL projects, reflections, ideas, and topics that are representative of the global nature of the study of teaching and learning.

Blog Reach: Since November 2014, over 10,000 visitors (representing 26 countries) have viewed blog content. On average, the SoTL Advocate is accessed over 40 times a week by unique viewers. All blog posts are publicized via the Twitter (300+ followers) and Facebook (100+ followers) accounts managed by the Office of the Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL. Blog authors can request specific hashtags for these posts, as appropriate.

Blog Post Guidelines: Prospective blog authors submit blog manuscripts to Jen Friberg (jfribe@ilstu.edu), SoTL Advocate editor. Blogs should be approximately 750-1000 words. Blogs should be written in a friendly and accessible manner, absent unneeded disciplinary jargon that might make a general SoTL readership unable to benefit from accessing the content of the post. Visuals (e.g., open source pictures, photos, videos) are encouraged, as more people will “click” on a blog link if a visual is attached!

Submission of a blog does not guarantee acceptance for publication. All blog submissions are reviewed by the SoTL Advocate editor for content and form prior to notification of acceptance status. Blog posts may be conditionally accepted for publication pending revision/clarification. Blogs accepted for posting will be published as soon as possible following acceptance.

Questions? Email Jen Friberg (jfribe@ilstu.edu).

Please consider contributing your work!