The SoTL Advocate

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


1 Comment

Seeking Input About SoTL Across the Teaching Stream

The International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning’s (ISSoTL) Advocacy and Outreach Committee (A&O) is interested in gathering stories about full-time teaching-stream faculty’s experiences engaging in SoTL. Various names for these teaching-stream positions include, but are not limited to, instructional limited term faculty, permanent but not eligible for tenure, equivalent to tenure-track (eligible for tenure), etcetera (we will be collecting part-time instructors’ stories in a later phase of our project – watch for that call).

Building on our SoTL A&O Committee session at ISSoTL in Calgary in 2017, we wish to collect these stories to compile them (with no names or other identifiers unless you expressly ask us to include your name) into a web-based resource for members on the ISSoTL website. We also intend to offer a session at ISSoTL 2018 to examine the narratives and their compelling themes and hope to write a paper for the ISSoTL journal, Teaching and Learning Inquiry. We are inviting you to participate in this research study by submitting your narrative as outlined below.

We are particularly interested in collecting a wide range of teaching-stream perspectives on the following issues (feel free to add your own to this list):

  1. Are you able to engage in SoTL?
  2. When you engage in SoTL, what barriers or supports do you encounter that are related to your position?
  3. Are SoTL grants or other forms of monetary research support available to you?
  4. Are there other exclusions or incentives for engaging in SoTL relating to your position?
  5. What supports or institutional factors (including culture) would assist you in engaging in SoTL within your institution?

Please view the types of resources given on ISSoTL Advocacy and Outreach webpage at http://www.issotl.com/issotl15/node/114. Please comment on those and tell us what additional tools could the A&O Committee provide to support your SoTL work.

Along with your responses to the above questions, when submitting please include your name and email (for contact purposes only; these will not be shared with others), and the nature of your appointment: its title/type and any other defining characteristics of your appointment. We recommend up to 500 words and hope that you would not spend more than 30 minutes (likely less) writing it. Your notes do not have to be in full narrative format – you are welcome to write a narrative or to send bullet points or other notes.

Please also indicate whether you wish a) to have your name (and any other identifiers included), or b) to have the narrative treated as confidential, or c) to have the narrative re-written, by combining with other narratives, into a synthesized new narrative. These options are offered as we wish to respect your right to give voice to your experience and be identified for that, but we also respect your wish to not be identified. We do not anticipate any negative risks to you in participating in the study of these narratives. We do, however, encourage you to carefully consider whether you want your name associated with your narrative, as you may wish to submit your narrative in confidence.

If you choose option a) or b), submissions may be edited or shortened, with your permission, for use on the ISSoTL webpage.

By submitting your narrative, you indicate that you 1. have read and understood the relevant information 2. may ask questions in the future 3. are giving your free consent to research participation. Your submitted narratives will be stored on my password-protected computer and destroyed after 3 years. Your identity will be known only to me unless you ask to have your name included with your narrative when it is uploaded to the website.

As noted above, the narratives will be included on the ISSoTL website, included in conference presentation, and a paper submitted to the ISSoTL journal. We will notify you via the ISSoTL listserv to let you know when each of these is occurring.

The study has been reviewed and received ethics clearance though the Brock University Research Ethics Board (file #17-348).If you have any questions pertaining to your participation, please contact Dr. Nicola Simmons, Principal Investigator at nsimmons@brocku.ca or by telephone at 905-688-5550, extension 3137. You may also contact Brock University’s Research Ethics Office (reb@brocku.ca (905)688-5550, ext. 3035) who can provide answers to pertinent questions about the research participants’ rights.

If you have any questions about your participation, or if you wish for any reason to withdraw at any time, please contact Dr. Nicola Simmons at nsimmons@brocku.ca or by telephone at 905-688-5550, extension 3137. Your participation is of course voluntary. You may withdraw at any time, including after your narrative has been posted to the website. If you do withdraw, your data will be deleted as immediately as possible. There will be no penalties to you of any kind for withdrawing or refusing to participate.

If you have any questions about this project, please contact Nicola Simmons (nsimmons@brocku.ca). If you agree to participate, please forward your narrative notes to Nicola Simmons at nsimmons@brocku.ca.

We warmly encourage you to share this call with colleagues.

With many thanks in advance,
A&O Teaching Stream Sub-Committee
Nicola Simmons, Lauren Scharff, and Diana Gregory

Please note, this call for input was cross-posted on the ISSoTL listserv.

 

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Giving the Reading of SoTL Impact

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

On my flight home from a conference in sunny Austin, Texas last week (as I type this it’s snowing in Illinois, so the “sunny” descriptor is a happy recollection!), I had the opportunity to catch up on some journal reading that had accumulated. One piece I was interested in reading was an editorial from the most recent issue of InSight: A Journal of Scholarly Teaching. Written by Nancy Chick, this work (titled Does Reading SoTL Matter? Difficult Questions of Impact) discussed the issue of impact in SoTL and questioned the influence of reading SoTL on a practitioner’s teaching and on student learning. In doing so, Chick raised a troubling question in the minds of her readers: what if reading SoTL doesn’t lead to any change in teaching or learning practice? I’m fairly certain that SoTL researchers don’t produce their work to have it NOT inform future teaching and learning practices. So, are we missing the “application” boat where we take what we read and use it to solve teaching and learning problems?

readI hate to think that SoTL reflects the trend identified in medical fields (“journals are not good at getting doctors to change and improve their practice”). However, I do feel as though the impact of reading SoTL research could easily be diminished without some sort of purposeful process of reflection, discussion, and/or integration – in the same manner that research says our students learn new skills. What might that look like, though? Chick suggests several wonderful options (a SoTL Journal Club, the use of small networks to discuss SoTL, and greater access to SoTL research via open access mechanisms to make discussions about our SoTL readings possible).

The overarching suggestion in this article was that those of us who read SoTL should “talk with others about what these readings make [us] think about.” I agree, for in that practice, there IS impact. Honestly, think about it. If you read SoTL research and then engage in discussions about what you’ve learned with others, you (very likely) consider your readings more deeply and puzzle over application of the study’s outcomes more thoroughly. Sharing leads to a deeper understanding — and perhaps use — of what we’ve read.

After reading Chick’s article, I spent the remainder of my plane ride thinking about other ways in which conversations about our own SoTL readings might be encouraged –beyond those suggested in the article. I have a few suggestions, across a variety of stakeholder groups/levels. These look a lot like general advocacy suggestions for SoTL, though each is tied to the specific practice of reading SoTL, with subsequent advocacy (aka: sharing) building impact over time:

  • Help peers develop an awareness of SoTL. If they don’t know a body of research about teaching and learning exists, they will never attempt to read it! Share resources where evidence on teaching and learning can routinely be accessed. Explain – explicitly — how you’ve used SoTL readings to alter your teaching practice(s). Take it one step further and detail how reading SoTL led you to conduct your own SoTL study.
  • Seek out formal and informal ways to share new knowledge derived from reading SoTL with colleagues or other stakeholders such as students, department or campus administrators, disciplinary leaders, and/or community members. Summarize what you’ve learned in newsletters, staff meetings, emails…any communication mechanism that allows for an exchange of this information. Approach your institution’s teaching and learning center to suggest programming based around reading SoTL to inform a scholarly approach to teaching.
  • Mentor students in reading and applying SoTL research. Share insights about learning with students to help them develop scholarly approaches to learning as well as scholarly approaches to teaching.
  • Add value to what you share with campus administrators about the SoTL you read by tying new knowledge from your SoTL readings to updates to the mission/vision of the institution or to its strategic plan. Advocate for evidence-informed thinking about next steps for your campus.
  • Use social media to share summaries of SoTL research with relevant stakeholders. Give an overview of what you read, then provide a link to the primary source for further exploration. Ask questions to encourage discussion among your “followers” to further develop ideas related to your SoTL readings.
  • Network at conferences to share case studies of how reading SoTL research has led to pedagogical change. This is particularly important at disciplinary conferences as widespread understanding of SoTL research is less obvious in those contexts than is typically evident at a teaching/learning conference.

These ideas in no way constitute an exhaustive list! Please feel free to add suggestions from your own context/practice below in the comments section! Happy SoTL reading – and sharing!

Blog References

Chick, N. L. (2017). Does reading SoTL matter? Difficult questions of impact. InSight: A Journal of Scholarly Teaching, 12, 9-13.

 

 

 


Leave a comment

Decoding was a Success!

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

Late last week, a total of 41 faculty from ISU participated in one of two Decoding the Disciplines events on campus. Sponsored by the Office of the Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL, these events featured Dr. David Pace, Emeritus Professor of History at Indiana University and co-creator of an approach to spanning the novice-to-expert gap called “Decoding the Disciplines.”

First, an event for faculty in ISU’s Department of History was held at Milner Library. Nineteen faculty joined in a discussion about SoTL and Decoding the Disciplines. They worked to identify bottlenecks in their curriculum where a Decoding approach might be beneficial to supporting student learning and curriculum planning. Attendees were privy to the first-ever whole group Decoding interview, where Dr. Pace simultaneously interviewed the entire faculty to identify whole program bottlenecks for future attention and focus.

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 11.52.29 AM.png

History faculty engrossed in small group discussions about disciplinary bottlenecks

The following day, 22 faculty from across campus experienced a full-day Decoding workshop, learning about each of the seven steps of the process. Participants identified student learning bottlenecks one or more of their classes, then brainstormed together on approaches for Decoding interviews and possibilities for collecting and sharing data to reflect pre- versus post-Decoding student learning.

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 11.53.49 AM

ISU faculty learning about the steps of the Decoding the Disciplines process

The establishment of a Teaching/Learning Community to continue these Decoding conversations is underway. Specifically, faculty have expressed an interest in looking more deeply into:

  • The impact of bias in the identification of bottlenecks
  • The relationship between knowing and doing in courses where the essence of the experience is understanding process
  • Differences between faculty and student visions of a goal for a class, project, or assignment
  • Understanding ways to approach emotional bottlenecks

These Decoding experiences would not have been possible without the assistance and support received from the Office of the Provost, Ross Kennedy (Chair, Department of History at ISU), Richard Hughes (Associate Professor, History at ISU and co-planner of the History Department event), and Beth Welch.

A list of Decoding the Disciplines resources can be found in this recent blog post.


1 Comment

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


Leave a comment

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).

 

 

 

 

 

 


Leave a comment

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!


Leave a comment

A Community College Perspective on Creating a SoTL Scholars Program

Written by Catherine Ford and Deidra Peaslee from Anoka-Ramsey Community College (Minnesota, USA)

A-R logoIn 2014-2015 Anoka-Ramsey Community College undertook a collaborative strategic planning process, resulting in five institutional goals, including promoting academic excellence.  While academic excellence is something all institutions pursue, we quickly conceded that there was little research conducted by community college faculty with community college students to frame “excellence” in the community college classroom.   Simultaneously, the college was also developing opportunities for students to engage in classroom-based undergraduate research opportunities.   These two factors seemed to be at odds with one another, how can we say we value engaging in research if we were not willing to undertake it ourselves? If as an institution we wanted to strive and promote these values, then it only made sense to turn the lens inward and model the research and self-reflection we are trying to develop in our students.

In order for an initiative like this to be successful, faculty support is critical so release credits were provided to Catherine to develop a framework and support faculty one on one. It was not too far along in this process that it became apparent to us that what we wanted to pursue already had a formal name: the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. During the first year, time was spent trying to recruit faculty while we read the “big names” in SoTL work.  This was very similar to the old adage, “flying the plane while building it.”

Other than the funds for the release credits, during the first year the initiative did not have a budget, but Catherine worked with faculty to obtain institutional innovation grants up to $1000 each to support research. The plan was to develop a research study in the fall, complete with IRB approval, and collect data in the spring with the intent to share results beyond the institution. Our purpose is to “focus on the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) as a means to enhance the teaching experience of faculty and the learning experience of students.”

During the second semester of the first year we attended a Lilly Conference, and two things were apparent. First, few models of community colleges doing this work existed and in order to be effective, we needed to turn our initiative into a formal program. Unfortunately, a Google search did not return the step-by-step approach to develop a sustainable SoTL program at a community college, so using knowledge gained from the conference, we developed a program and budget proposal based on what we knew for certain: the program needed to be a joint collaboration between administration and faculty. This collaboration assures that the college views this as important work, deserving of time, money, and attention.

ARCCOur proposal for the second year, now named ARCC Scholars, focused on developing a two-year (four semester) faculty learning community of 5 faculty from across disciplines. These faculty receive a stipend for each semester and travel expenses to attend an educational conference in the first year and present at an educational conference in the second year. We grandfathered our original four faculty participants into Year 2 of the commitment and developed a learning community. In the one-year together, they have leaned on each other for pedagogical and research support and have developed invaluable networking and connections.

The ARCC Scholars program selects five faculty through a competitive, yet non-threatening application process. We don’t require faculty to know exactly what they want to study before the program begins. The activities of Year 1 – semester 1 supports faculty as they develop a research question, complete a literature review, explore methodology, design the study, and submit an IRB application. Year 1 – Semester 2 is designated for data collection of the implemented study. Year 2 is dedicated to analyzing and preparing to share the study results outside of the institution via conference presentation or submitting study results for publication.

ARCC timeline

At the community college, faculty come to the SoTL Scholars Program with a wide range of experience with research. This includes everything from no research experience with human subjects to previous publication of pedagogical research. We aim to  support faculty while creating opportunities for faculty to learn from one another, strengthening the campus environment. We also remove barriers that might prevent faculty from pursuing or completing SoTL work. This has included assistance in narrowing a research question, providing templates for requests to use instruments, reviewing the IRB application before submission, collecting data for anonymity and privacy, acting as a second coder, and assisting with statistical analysis.

Just as we meet our students where they are when they enter our institution, we meet our faculty where they are at with no judgement. This is another reason why we find it beneficial to have a smaller cohort. Cohort meetings are a safe place to be vulnerable in our quest to improve our teaching and learn various aspects of the research process.  This one-on-one work in addition to the support the cohort provides is pivotal to the success of our SoTL Scholars program and is anecdotally supported by comments from cohort members.

During the school year, faculty cohorts meet three times in the fall and three times in the spring. These meetings provide structure as to support and next steps as well as allow for individual work time or time to ask questions of the group or Catherine. In order for SoTL work to be successful at the community college level where publication is not rewarded with tenure and the teaching loads are heavy, the key is support. Although the financial support and travel stipends are appreciated and an added “bonus,” faculty would likely not pursue this work at an institutional level (versus independently), if the support through the process was absent.

Admittedly, funding this model as designed does  present a question of scalability, however the college has a history of utilizing innovation incentives to get ideas launched and then modifying incentives for sustainability. As we attempt to quantify the value add of this program not just on faculty but on students, we look to surface level measures of success by counting participation and number of faculty who apply as well as qualitative faculty satisfaction data. By these accounts, we are heading in the right direction.

Blog Contributor Contact Info:

FordCatherine Ford (Catherine.Ford@anokaramsey.edu)

PeasleeDeidra Peaslee (Deidra.Peaslee@anokaramsey.edu)