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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Blogging in the SoTLsphere — A bit of reflection and a call for folks contribute!

Written by Jennifer Friberg, Cross Chair in SoTL and Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders at Illinois State University (jfribe@ilstu.edu)

Almost 5 years ago, while working with Kathleen McKinney (who was then ISU’s Cross Chair) as a SoTL Scholar-Mentor, one of my duties was to establish a blog to share information related to SoTL with campus stakeholders. Though it felt like a reach, we also hoped to engage folks from outside ISU as blog readers and contributors, but we were unsure that would happen. I had blogged before, but solely as a personal endeavor…a diary of sorts that was only shared with a handful of people. Kathleen was completely new to blogging. We knew we had much to learn. Despite all this, and with hope in our hearts, we sallied forth and the SoTL Advocate was born in October 2014.

Our aim was to create a space to encourage discussions about SoTL and highlight interesting SoTL work, varying our content to appeal to a wide variety of stakeholders. We weren’t sure what sort of impact our content had, in terms of reader interest, but our numbers of views continued to increase steadily as you can see from the table below.

Year Number of Views Number of Visitors
2014
(blog launched 10/31/14)
835 493
2015 4306 2202
2016 5869 3764
2017 6692 4501
2018 7633 5154
2019 (through May 1) 3493 2350
Total for life of blog 25,678 18,464

Happily, these views have come from all over the globe, with 250+ views from ten different countries across four continents.

As viewership continues to grow for the SoTL Advocate, so does my desire to not just increase views and viewers. I want to increase stakeholders’ engagement with the blog. If SoTL is a Commons, then blogging about SoTL should be, too. While guest bloggers are featured in this blog from time, to time, my current goal for the SoTL Advocate is to feature the work of a broader number of contributors, representing varied cultural, geographical, personal, and institutional perspectives. Please consider this blog post an invitation to contribute your thoughts about any aspect of SoTL: a project, a reflection, a failed attempt at SoTL, methods that are new or different (to you or to the world!), or advocacy/outreach ideas or case studies. Tell us how you’ve applied SoTL to your teaching/learning contexts. Share what you’re reading. Present point and counterpoint about a hot topic. Let your voice be heard in a new and different way.

Here are the guidelines I offer prospective contributors, in case you — or someone you know — might be interested in contributing a post:

Prospective blog authors should submit blog manuscripts to Jennifer 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.

Thanks to those of you who have been so very supportive of this blog and the work Kathleen and I started here together. Sustaining a blog isn’t an easy task, but my work here has been and remains one of my favorite SoTL advocacy-type tasks.

Please do consider joining the ranks of SoTL Advocate contributors. Let me know if you have questions!


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Defining research as an intro to SoTL: Reflections of a serial tinkerer

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

I’m willing to chat with just about anyone about the scholarship of teaching and learning – anytime, anyplace! Happily, in my role at Illinois State University, it’s my full-time job! I would have to say, though, that across the scope of topics and tasks that are a part of my day-to-day work, one of my most preferred activities is conducting workshops with stakeholders new to SoTL. Whether it’s a two-hour workshop or a two-day event, the “intro to SoTL” experience is one that fascinates me, as it presents the challenge of working with diverse groups of individuals, each with different motivations and understandings of the topics at hand. 

It’s either a strength or a weakness that I am a serial tinkerer. I constantly make large or small changes to my teaching or my educational development materials – and my intro to SoTL workshop materials do not escape this habit! Using feedback from workshop attendees, questions asked during workshops, my own personal reflections, and new/emerging resources from external sources, I seek to improve to my work in defining SoTL and mentoring the development of SoTL projects. 

One of my enduring challenges with planning my intro to SoTL workshops has been figuring out a way to unite workshop attendees in viewing scholarship as being a broad endeavor, one that can be approached in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons. I truly believe that most faculty, staff, and students *think* they believe this to be true, but there are times when subsequent comments/questions about rigor and value of various forms of scholarship (and SoTL) make me wonder. So, I continue to tinker, and in doing so, work towards ways to best make the point that one discipline’s perceptions/definitions of research might not match those of another. 

To this end, one of my most recent add-ins to my intro to SoTL workshop was developed after recently re-reading Gary Poole’s excellent chapter (Square One: What is Research? in McKinney, 2013, citation below) which discussed how entrenching ourselves in disciplinary approaches to scholarship restricts SoTL engagement. So now, rather than starting intro workshops talking about SoTL, I begin them by talking about the broader topic of research. I’ve found this to be an perfect way to identify and acknowledge disciplinary perspectives (and biases) about research and to make the point that research may be a much broader enterprise than some participants recognize. 

How does this process work? I have attendees reflect for a few minutes then write a draft definition of research and share with a small group around them. After a bit of small group sharing, we turn to the larger group for consideration, comparing and contrasting our definitions for research. I’ve found that this exercise sets the stage nicely for discussions about the diversity of approaches evident in all scholarly work, SoTL included. Even in a short two-hour workshop, this has been time very well spent. One recent attendee called it an “aha moment” in really understanding his perspectives on research. 

Last Friday, I facilitated an intro to SoTL workshop for 12 faculty and staff from across my campus. Disciplines represented were: business management, politics and government, social work, speech-language pathology, education, technology, software design, finance, english, and history. Due to this array of department/school affiliations, I was not surprised when attendees defined research as:

  • the search for statistical significance to indicate relationships between variables
  • what happens when two equivalent and randomly selected groups are compared
  • the process of answering a question
  • solving a puzzle
  • the examination of artifacts and data to reach a reasonable conclusion

Discussing these wildly different definitions as a large group was truly fascinating. After time, we agreed that a broader definition of research was most assuredly more inclusive of all disciplines’ approaches to scholarly work. It made our next discussions about the purposes, characteristics, limitations, and strengths of SoTL much easier for attendees to consider and evaluate. At one point, when one attendee asked about the generalizability of SoTL, another in her group replied, “maybe it’s another difference in how we think about research and perhaps generalizability isn’t always the goal.” Insert happy dance here. I may continue tinkering with other aspects of my intro to SoTL workshops in the future, but I feel fairly confident in saying that defining research will likely remain a standard “start” to my intro workshops. 

Blog reference:

Poole, G. (2013). Square one: What is research? In K. McKinney (Ed.), The scholarship of teaching and learning in and across the disciplines. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.


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Summer/Fall 2019 SoTL Conferences – Save the Dates/Open Calls for Papers

Compiled by Jennifer Friberg, Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL and Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders at Illinois State University (jfribe@ilstu.edu)

The following list features a sampling of summer/fall SoTL conferences that might be of interest to those who use or do SoTL. Note that many still have calls for papers/proposals still open, so consider sharing your work at one of these venues. For a complete list of SoTL/SoTLish conferences, refer to this list. If you host or know of a conference you’d like to see added to this site, email Jen Friberg at jfribe@ilstu.edu. Happy conferencing this year. I hope to see many of you at one or more of these venues!

SoTL Academy

  • Conference Date: May 13-14, 2019
  • Conference Location: Findlay, Ohio, USA
  • Registration: open
  • Call for Papers: closed

EuroSoTL Conference

  • Conference Date: June 13-14, 2019
  • Conference Location: Bilbao, Spain
  • Registration: open through 5/20/19
  • Call for Papers: closed

SoTL in the South Conference

  • Conference Date: October 9-11, 2019
  • Conference Location: Bloomfontein, South Africa
  • Registration: open (early bird available through 3/31/19)
  • Call for Papers: closed

International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Conference

  • Conference Date: October 9-12, 2019
  • Conference Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  • Registration: opens 5/15/19 (early bird available through 9/2/19)
  • Call for Papers: 4/1/19

International Society for Exploring Teaching & Learning Conference

  • Conference Date: October 10-12, 2019
  • Conference Location: Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
  • Registration: Not yet open (early bird available through 9/13/19)
  • Call for Papers: 5/15/19

Research on Teaching and Learning Summit

  • Conference Date: October 18, 2019
  • Conference Location: Kennesaw, Georgia, USA
  • Registration: open (Early bird available through 9/7/19)
  • Call for Papers: closes 4/30/19

2019 Symposium on Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

  • Conference Dates: November 7-9, 2019
  • Conference Location: Banff, Alberta, Canada
  • Registration/Call for Papers: info provided shortly, according to website (will update here as dates become available)

Original Lilly Conference on College Teaching: Evidence-Based Teaching and Learning

  • Conference Dates: November 21-23, 2019
  • Conference Location: Oxford, Ohio, USA
  • Registration: opens 4/1/19
  • Call for Papers: closes 6/17/19


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Table of Contents

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

Blog References

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Thinking more about data sources for SoTL projects

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

In late January, I gave a presentation at the SoTL Commons conference that focused on the need to carefully select data sources for SoTL projects that are both deep and comprehensive in addressing the topic(s) being investigated. Specifically, my talk had three distinct components:

  1. An overview of potential SoTL data sources (featured in another recent blog)
  2. A discussion about the pros and cons of direct vs. indirect evidence for SoTL work.
  3. A framework for working through the decision process for selecting the “best” data source(s) for a SoTL project.

The framework described above was presented in the form of a decision tree to help SoTL scholars guide their thinking about data sources, their fit for the topic being investigated, and overall preparation to appropriately utilize any data collected. This decision tree was shared in “draft” form and remains as such, though with a few recent tweaks, it’s edging itself ever closer to being finalized. 🙂 Below I share that decision tree as well as another resource I shared at the conference presentation, a visual representation of an excellent direct vs indirect data reference created by Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching in 2013. I hope you (or someone you know) might find these resources helpful now or in the future! If you’d like a higher quality .pdf file for either visual aid, please email me at jfribe@ilstu.edu.

Direct vs. Indirect Evidence:

Data Source Decision Tree (as it’s still a draft…feedback is welcome!)

Terms used in the decision tree are defined as follows:

  • existing artifact: a project, assignment, assessment, or experience that is part of the current teaching/learning context you are seeking to study or compare
  • archived artifact: a past project, assignment, assessment, or other artifact from a past teaching/learning context you are seeking to study or compare
  • extraneous data: information (e.g., interview, survey, pre/post test) collected in a manner that is that is “above and beyond” what typically happens in the learning context(s) you are seeking to study


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Code Switching: Understanding Perspectives and Motivations for SoTL Advocacy

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

In last week’s blog, I proposed five ideas for purposeful and thoughtful SoTL advocacy. One of these suggested that something called code switching be operationalized to help a larger group of stakeholders to better understand SoTL. As I feel that a bit more unpacking about this phenomenon would constitute a positive contribution to discussions on SoTL advocacy, code switching is the focus of this week’s post. 

Here’s how I explain code switching to my students: as children develop adult-like language skills, they learn how to manipulate their message to fit their audience. A two-year-old child might ask anyone around her for something she needs in a singular way (“I want juice!”), but a four-year-old knows how to do this differently, choosing to ask her brother for juice by saying “give me juice” but using a more respectful “I want juice, please,” to ask the same of her mother. In doing so, the child shows that he understands that communication needs to be modulated and adapted for particular audiences in order to maximize the chance that communication attempts will be successful in meeting his or her own needs. Like the giraffe with the binoculars (in the image to the left), children find a communication target and focus their messages to be clear and successful.

What changes in those two years of development? The easy answer is that in neurotypical children, cognitive and linguistic development allows children to understand the Piagetian concept of means-end (how to get what they want) as well as how to perspective-take in conversations. So, with time, children learn that they can meet their needs best if they can understand the perspectives of the individuals they speak with. I would argue that the same notion can and should be applied to SoTL advocacy efforts, particularly when SoTL advocates understand the myriad motivations that might apply to various stakeholders in higher education.

As SoTLists, we must discern why SoTL might be meaningful to students, other faculty, or campus administration, not by telling these individuals why SoTL is important to US, but by crafting a message that makes SoTL important to THEM. This level of perspective-taking allows for stakeholders’ own needs and interests to be harnessed as a mechanism for SoTL advocacy. Consider the graphic below, which illustrates the wide array of potential stakeholders that exists for SoTL, connected to various motivations that could be accessed to encourage engagement in/with SoTL. Without doubt, I believe that the most successful SoTL advocacy efforts meet stakeholders at the level of their own motivations.

Once potential stakeholder motivations have been identified, code switching comes into play, as it becomes necessary to communicate about SoTL clearly with stakeholders in an individualized manner, identifying ways to modulate our messages about SoTL to be understandable, accessible, and useful to the individuals we engage with. Thus, while our underlying message of SoTL advocacy will likely always be one of the importance of evidence-informed teaching and learning, we might orient our conversational approaches differentially to meet our own SoTL advocacy aims.

For instance, students are often unaware of the SoTL work we do, but have a vested interest in SoTL that is largely unexplored in terms of optimizing their practices as learners. By explaining what SoTL is, giving examples of/encouraging the use of evidence-based learning strategies, explaining our own SoTL work, we pave the way for students to become involved in SoTL. This is SoTL advocacy. We start with students’ motivations to be better learners and work towards increased understanding and involvement in our SoTL efforts.  

For faculty who are unaware of the potential impact of SoTL, we engage in conversations about how SoTL can be used to help solve problems with course design/implementation, how SoTL can be undertaken to better understand our own teaching/learning context, and what sorts of supports exist to get started in SoTL. This, too, is SoTL advocacy, but it’s advocacy work that’s done in a different manner than with the student example above. While the main message with both stakeholder groups is that SoTL is important to them, the conversations about how and why this is the case are necessarily different. 

Code switching to access administrators’ motivations might include discussions based on SoTL’s utility for formative/summative assessment for program review, external accreditation efforts, evidence-based curriculum development, increased faculty/student research productivity, or increased student retention/engagement. Again, the heart of the advocacy message is that SoTL is important, but the conversations are necessarily different, based on stakeholder motivations.

I’d argue that code switching allows SoTL advocates the opportunity to advance SoTL across audiences in our local contexts and more broadly, as well. As such, it’s one tool in our advocacy toolbox — taken straight from child language development theory — that we might consider. 


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Thoughts on SoTL Advocacy from the SoTL Commons Conference

Written by Jennifer Friberg, Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL and Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders at Illinois State University (jfribe@ilstu.edu)

A few weeks ago, I had the good fortune of being invited to deliver one of two keynote addresses at the annual SoTL Commons conference in Savannah, Georgia. Happily, I was given the opportunity to select my own topic for my talk and, having thought deeply about several options, selected SoTL advocacy as my focus. This is likely not a surprise to those who know me, as I am a passionate advocate for research on teaching and learning. After developing several iterations of my talk, I chose to focus my remarks on five ideas I believe to be central to effective SoTL advocacy. I share them here, in the hopes that one or more of these might resonate with folks for use now or at a later time in their own SoTL advocacy efforts.

As a starting point, I do feel as though the above screenshot of one of the slides from my keynote hits on something very important: SoTL advocacy should be undertaken in ways that employ diverse approaches to our advocacy work. Perhaps the the word “customized” might even be appropriate as a corollary to this recommended diverse approach to advocacy, as efforts to engage an expanded group of stakeholders in SoTL should be specifically tailored to fit the contexts in which SoTL advocacy is being undertaken. With that in mind, suggestions for thoughtful and purposeful SoTL advocacy presented at the SoTL Commons included the following:

  1. Keep your SoTL “start-up” story in mind. Share it with others, as understanding your interest in SoTL might drive someone else to develop an interest, too. I have found this to be true, particularly for colleagues within your own discipline. My field of speech-language pathology has an established standard for using evidence-based practices to inform clinical decision-making. When I explain to other speech-language pathologists or audiologists that I started with SoTL because of my view that evidence to support my teaching practices is just as necessary as evidence to support my clinical work, folks can easily understand my perspective. While they might not engage in SoTL, they can conceive of how it might be important to others and to the discipline, at large.
  2. Develop an “advocative” (ad-VOCK-ah-tiv) mindset. Encourage people to think about SoTL in different ways, via a lens of provocative advocacy. The central idea to being advocative is being both thoughtful and purposeful in advancing (in this case) SoTL. Think about why advocacy is needed with a person or group. Plan a thoughtful approach to your advocacy efforts, one that makes the stakeholders you seek to engage leave their interaction(s) with you changed in their thinking about SoTL. If you find yourself having similar conversations across a variety of stakeholders, that’s okay, as being advocative can be necessarily repetitive!
  3. Consider the advantages of code switching. I have facilitated a particular undergraduate language development course over a dozen times in the last decade at my university. One of the important concepts in that course’s curriculum is that of code switching, the notion that children learn to adjust the language they use (tone, vocabulary, delivery) based on who they are communicating with. I would argue that advocacy efforts require a similar type of code switching to make SoTL matter to a given audience. As there are very different stakeholder groups for SoTL (e.g., faculty, students, administration, accreditation groups), it is important to speak to language of the individuals you seek to engage in your advocacy efforts. SoTL should be made important to individual stakeholders in individual ways.
  4. Establish semantic congruency with specificity. We often lack semantic congruency in our discussions about SoTL. Why? A variety of words and phrases are used to talk about research on teaching and learning, which can lead to confusion (as discussed in this blog post a few weeks ago!). If you’re talking with folks about SoTL, be able to identify similarities and differences between SoTL and educational research, action research, or classroom-based research. Develop ways to describe well that which you advocate for.
  5. Mentorship is a critical component of SoTL advocacy. With experience, many SoTL scholars become mentors to novice student or novice/veteran faculty SoTLists. While this is wonderful, I would argue that mentees need to observe not only the work that goes into a SoTL project, but advocacy efforts to advance that work. This type of mentorship includes the sharing of practices and processes for self-advocacy and collective advocacy at any point in a project’s lifespan (pre, during, post) to advance SoTL at micro through mega levels of impact.