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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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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SoTL University Research Grants Awarded for FY19

sotl-sealAt Illinois State University, University Research Grants (URGs) are awarded by each of our seven colleges and by the Office of the Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL. On average, five projects are awarded funding of up to $5000 to study the developmental and learning outcomes of ISU students.

At Illinois State University, we define SoTL as the “systematic study/reflection on teaching and learning [of our ISU students] made public.” This definition allows for research in any discipline and the use of various methodologies. The work may be quantitative or qualitative in nature and focus on class, course, program, department, cross-department, and co-curricular levels. Specific criteria for this award can be found on the Cross Chair website. All funded SoTL URG work must be made public and peer reviewed in some way via presentation, performance, juried show, web site, video, and/or publication.

Outcomes of past SoTL URG-funded projects have been archived here.

This year’s call for proposals was highly competitive, with 17 team applications submitted. After careful peer-review, five student/faculty teams have been awarded SoTL URGs for FY19. These teams represent five disciplines across four ISU colleges. Funded projects are summarized below:

Decoding Geometry Constructions as Generalizations

Research Team: Jeffrey Barrett (Professor, Department of Mathematics) and Darl Rassi, Doctoral Student, Department of Mathematics

In an ISU undergraduate course, students learn to generalize and form arguments based on the use of geometric figures and measures. Generalized constructions of figures are important as a conceptual foundation for argumentation; however, the best means to teach students to construct geometric objects that represent general cases of figures are not evident. We propose a repeated measure design to cycle through instructional support with examples of construction steps and with analytical processes identifying the level of generalization for different examples. By analyzing reflective interview transcripts with an instructor, we expect to identify expert steps to generalize constructions like this, and analyze steps in the process of such work. By collecting weekly data in cycles, we expect to learn how many repeated trials provide adequate support for students to construct a generalization concept enabling them to build on their understanding of geometry.

The Impact of University Experiences on the Intercultural Effectiveness of ISU Students

Research Team: Meredith Downes (Professor, Department of Management & Quantitative Methods) and Aron Applegate (Student, Department of Management & Quantitative Methods)

Many students enrolled as majors in Illinois State University’s international business program are well-traveled and have interests that extend beyond the midwestern United States prior to beginning their college careers. However, it is important that students’ international skills and abilities be developed further as a result of their attendance here in order to gain critical professional skills for the workforce. Thus, this study assess students’ intercultural competence upon joining the international business program and again when they are close to graduating to identify factors most influential in increasing cultural competence. Specifically, a variety of university-sponsored experiences (e.g., internships, study abroad, student clubs and organizations) will be explored to understand their impact on students’ intercultural competence.

An Ethnographic Investigation of Future STEM Teachers’ Development of Disciplinary Practices

Research Team: Rebekka Darner (Assistant Professor, School of Biological Sciences) and Kara Baldwin (Graduate Student, School of Biological Sciences)

The Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics require STEM educators to not only teach content but also engage students in actions of scientific and mathematical inquiry (disciplinary practices). Doping so requires teachers to have knowledge of disciplinary practices to develop authentic learning experiences for their students. This research will explore the connection between undergraduate research experiences and the development of pre-service STEM teachers’ knowledge of disciplinary practices. Specifically, the research will examine the development of community within each research setting to identify factors that may influence or enhance pre-service teachers’ knowledge of disciplinary practices. Pre/post measures to identify changes in participant knowledge of disciplinary practices will be administered. Additionally, the iterative-reflective practice of ethnography will allow researchers to identify factors within undergraduate research experiences that might impact future teachers’ ability to engage their students in STEM disciplinary practices.

Examining Pre-Service Teacher Embodiment of Critical Issues

Research Team: Alice Lee (Assistant Professor, School of Teaching and Learning) and a student researcher to be determined

The study will examine how pre-service teachers embody critical issues within a critical literacy course (TCH: Reading and Language Arts in the Elementary School). Framed in a grounded theory developed from previous work, “teachers as embodied toolkits” is a lens that theorizes the ways teachers embody race and language and how pedagogy is something a teacher lives. Employing case study methodology, the Spring 2018 section of data will be collected and analyzed to describe how the learning processes of this cohort of pre-service teachers can be described relative to issues such as race and diversity.

Synthesis Journals as a Path through the Forest: Analyzing the Effectiveness of Synthesis Journals in Helping ISU Music Majors Contextualize Music History

Research Team: Allison Alcorn (Professor, School of Music) and a student research to be determined

MUS 253 (Music History Until 1750) is a required course for ISU undergraduate music majors. The course is usually a student’s first exposure to serious study of music history. As a result, students often report feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information and the level of detail required across the course. In response to such concerns, synthesis journals were integrated into this course with the goal of helping students keep sight of the “larger context” and not lose the forest for the trees. Through student reflections, this project seeks to understand the impact of synthesis journals on student learning of course content and connection-making to broader contexts of Western European culture.

 


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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!


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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


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Planning for a Summer or Fall SoTL Conference?

Compiled by Jennifer Friberg, Cross Endowed Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and Associate Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders at Illinois State University

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While I know that many of us are quite busy with spring obligations, it’s never too early to look towards the next opportunity to attend or present at a SoTL conference. With that in mind, the following conferences feature (at least in part) content focused on SoTL, are scheduled for the summer or fall of 2018, and currently have an OPEN call for papers:

9th Annual SoTL Conference (May 14-15 in Tiffin, OH, USA)

  • Proposals accepted through March 15, 2018

Innovative Strategies to Advance Student Learning (August 6-8 in Asheville, NC, USA)

  • Proposals accepted through April 5, 2018

International Society for Exploring Teaching and Learning (October 10-13 in Tempe, AZ, USA)

  • Proposals accepted through May 15, 2018

International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (October 24-27 in Bergen, Norway)

  • Proposals accepted through April 1, 2018

Original Lilly Conference on Teaching (November 15-18 in Oxford, OH, USA)

  • Proposals accepted through June 21, 2018

 

These conferences are open to register, but are no longer accepting proposal submissions:

International Institute on Students as Partners (June 11-14 in Hamilton, ON, Canada)

Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (June 19-22 in Sherbrooke, QC, Canada)

Research on Teaching and Learning Summit (October 12 at Kennesaw State University near Atlanta, GA, USA)

 

Do you know of a SoTL conference that doesn’t appear on this list? Please feel free to email me at jfribe@ilstu.edu to have it added.


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Think Alouds: SoTL Methods Series #3

Written by Sarah M. Ginsberg, Ed.D., Professor of Speech-Language Pathology at Eastern Michigan University (sginsberg@emich.edu)

Editor’s Note: This blog was originally posted on the SoTL Advocate on October 12. 2015 and is reprinted in its entirety now for its excellent fit in the current methods series which features methods for SoTL that are “new and different” to many.  — JCF

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 8.25.05 PMA common thread that runs through various cross-disciplinary SOTL research is the concerted effort made to understand what the accomplished professional is thinking when she solves a work problem so that we can use that knowledge as teachers to better prepare future professionals. That problem might be how a mathematician completes a technical calculation, or in clinical fields, it might be how the clinician arrives at a diagnosis. The value for all of us in understanding what our accomplished colleagues do in their heads when faced with a technical problem is that in identifying how the pros do it, we can uncover insights into how we should be teaching our students to think and to problem solve. This type of understanding relies on a process of collecting data while the person is actively engaged in solving a problem out loud. This type of study is often referred to as a think aloud (TA) and can yield important information to inform evidence-based educational practices

The TA method is a validated method of learning about cognitive processes by having participants verbalize their thinking in a metacognitive manner (Ericcson & Simon, 1993; Wineberg, 1991). TAs were popularized by Wineberg (1991) in his ground-breaking study that examined the differences between how academic historians processed information while reading historical texts and how students processed information regarding historical texts.  Since then, TAs have been used to study how novice thinking compares to experienced thinking in a wide variety of disciplines, including the health sciences, mathematics, and political science (Banning, 2008; Bernstein, 2010; Forsberg, Ziegert, Hult, & Fors, 2013; Wainwright & McGinnis, 2009). These types of studies are often referred to as “expert-novice” studies (Bernstein, 2010).

The process of data collection using a TA approach is quite simple and requires minimal technology and cost. Typically:

  1. Study participants are presented with the problem to be solved by the researcher and asked to solve it aloud.
  2. Specific directions are provided to participants. Prompts (e.g., “tell me how you would solve this” or “describe how you would approach this problem”) are used to elicit responses and gather additional information if a participant falls silent or struggles with the process.
  3. Participant responses are recorded for subsequent transcription and analysis.
  4. Once the TA is transcribed, the most challenging part of the process becomes the subsequent data analysis. Consistent with qualitative methodology, verbalizations may be read as a whole to determine initial emerging codes and impressions about the thought process (Creswell, 2002; Denzin & Lincoln, 2012). Using an inductive approach to identifying specific thought processes or strategies allows the researcher to move forward to developing secondary, axial coding. Themes emerge as the iterative process expands to include all participants and commonalities and differences can be appreciated.

Having recently completed a study comparing the diagnostic problem-solving of experienced speech-language pathology (SLP) clinicians compared to the problem-solving of SLP graduate students, I found that the most challenging aspect of analyzing the data was determining the level of thinking to focus on. I used studies in comparable clinical professions, such as nursing, physicians, and physical therapists to identify frameworks that might be useful to me. In determining the focus of my study, I chose to concentrate on the heuristics (thinking strategies) of my participants, to understand differences in approaches to problem solving and to create a framework that fostered comparisons to previous literature, potentially increasing the value of my findings.

For more details on the think aloud method and some outstanding examples of its use in a variety of fields, see the items included in the following references. It should be noted that a number of authors also advocate for the use of TA as a teaching method. For those unfamiliar with qualitative research methodology, several references are included here as well.

References for Additional Information on Think Alouds:

Banning, M. (2008b). The think aloud approach as an educational tool to develop and assess clinical reasoning in undergraduate students. Nurse Education Today, 28, (1), p. 8–14. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2007.02.001

Bernstein, J. L. (2010). Using “think-alouds” to understand variations in political thinking. Journal of Political Science Education, 6(1), p 49-69. doi:10.1080/15512160903467695

Ericcson, K. A., & Simon, H A. (1993). Protocol analysis: Verbal reports as data. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Forsberg, E., Ziegert, K., Hult, H., & Fors, U. (2013). Clinical reasoning in nursing, a think-aloud study using virtual patients-A base for innovative assessment. Nurse Education Today, http://dx.doi.org./10.1016/j.nedt.2013.07.010

Wainwright, S. F., & McGinnis, P.Q. (2009). Factors that influence the clinical decision-making of rehabilitation professionals in long-term care settings. Journal of Allied Health, 38(3), 143-51.

Wineberg, S. S. (1991) On the reading of historical texts: Notes on the breach between school and academy. American Educational Research Journal, 28(3), 495-519.


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#Collaborative Auto-ethnography: SoTL Methods Series #2

Written by: Catherine McConnell (University of Brighton), Elizabeth Marquis (McMaster University), and Lucy Mercer-Mapstone (University of Queensland) — note complete author-supplied affiliations and contact information at the end of this blog post. 

When we (Catherine, Beth, and Lucy) met at the International Summer Institute on Students as Partners in 2016 we quickly discovered that, as practitioners of student-staff partnerships, we had many shared experiences. Our discussions were fruitful in terms of giving us a sense of belonging but we felt they warranted deeper exploration. So, we embarked on a process of delving into our own experiences in the hopes of learning in the process and sharing that learning with fellow practitioners and researchers. As we worked to find a way to effectively and systematically study ourselves, we arrived at the idea of using collaborative auto-ethnography as a methodological approach.


Above: Participants at the 2016 McMaster Summer Institute on Students as Partners in Teaching and Learning, where we first developed the idea for our CAE project.


Collaborative auto-ethnography (CAE) is a research method that involves ‘a group of researchers pooling their stories to find some commonalities and differences […] to discover the meanings of the stories in relation to their sociocultural contexts’ (Chang et al, 2013, p. 17). As such, it provided a perfect, if initially somewhat unfamiliar, way to collectively explore our individual experiences in a scholarly fashion.

We have put together this blog post to explain our developing understanding of the method and process of CAE, and how we, as a group of three researchers, have used it in our recent SoTL enquiry into ‘student-staff partnership in higher education.’

CAE builds upon ‘auto-ethnography,’ which is a method that uses a researcher’s personal experience to ‘describe and critique cultural beliefs, practices, and experiences’ (Adams et al, 2015, p.1). Auto-ethnography is a deeply personal and reflective process, usually taking place in a researcher’s own context, whether that be about practice or in a certain situation. Adding the dimension of multiple ethnographies (i.e., more than one voice) presents the possibility that the method can simultaneously be collaborative, autobiographical, and ethnographic.

For our shared research, we took up the CAE method through structured reflective writing, designing a writing activity to provide a framework that would guide our individual reflections. We set ourselves a word limit of 750 words that we would write and share with each other in a private online space. This activity was modelled on a set of reflective prompts, informed by Johns’ model of structured reflection (Johns, 2000), which had been adapted by colleagues at the University of Brighton, UK (2011) and which we subsequently re-appropriated. Specifically, we:

  1. Developed a framework of prompts/questions for reflection
  2. Wrote individual reflections guided by the framework
  3. Shared and read each other’s reflections
  4. Conducted iterative thematic analysis to discover key themes

Our developed framework was a useful facilitative tool to prompt us to take an open, honest account of our personal and professional experiences, affirming Johns’ interest in ‘making explicit the knowledge we use in our practice’ (Jasper, 2013, p.86). Posing questions that follow Johns’ (ibid, p.37) format of phased cue questions (phases involve preparatory, descriptive, reflective, anticipatory, and insight questions) we focused our SoTL enquiry on identity construction, navigation and enactment in the context of student-staff partnerships.

The framework below provides an illustration of the types of questions used to prompt our personal reflections about identity in the context of student-staff partnerships. This could be easily adapted to other SoTL topics –  especially those that reflect on practice.

Framework for reflective questioning
Description of experience Phenomenon: describe in detail your partnership practice, or a specific partnership experience that seems especially noteworthy, without interpretation or judgement
Context: what were the significant background factors to this experience? Why did it take place, and what was its purpose?
Reflection What were you trying to achieve?
Why did you behave as you did?
What were the consequences of your actions for yourself and others?
How did you feel about the experience when it was happening?
To what extent did your actions realize your understanding of partnership?
What identity(s) were you consciously aware of at the time?
What identity(s) do you believe were at play during this interaction in hindsight?
If multiple, which identity was most salient? How were they interacting?
Analysis: Influencing factors

 

What factors influenced your decision-making? Some potential options to consider: Prior experiences, Societal expectations/ideologies/assumptions, Context
How was your salient identity affecting your actions?
How was the interaction between identities affecting your actions?
How was the presence of this identity(s) influencing your perceptions of those with whom you were interacting?
Analysis: Alternatives What other choices did you have?
What could be the consequences of these choices?
Learning & Action How do you feel about this experience now?
Has this experience changed your way of understanding yourself?
Did your salient identity change? If so, how and why?
In hindsight, how has is interaction/even affected your ongoing identity in partnership?
What new questions, challenges or issues has it raised?
Given the chance, what would you do differently next time?
How will you follow up on this experience in order to put your learning into practice?

Once we had written and shared our individual reflections, we found it useful to read each other’s, and write a short ‘meta-reflection’ on the writing process. This enabled us to appraise the CAE method straight after the reflective process but before we began any analysis of the transcripts. Some of our observations included:

  • The researchers felt a sense of belonging and solidarity to one another along with a communal ownership of an enquiry
  • Writing and sharing reflections caused each of us a personal realisation and provided grounds for transformation. This process was not without some discomfort, though, perhaps because there is a level of vulnerable-making involved with sharing personal reflections with colleagues
  • Sometimes the content of the reflections themselves was also unsettling or challenging, and caused discomfort in relation to an aspect of one’s own practice
  • We experienced a heightened consciousness of our own values and beliefs relating to practice, the influence these have in partnership situations, and in our expectations of others
  • We also noted a sense of excitement when reading each other’s writing inspired by the experience of sharing personal insights and aspects of our own identity that are usually implicit

While CAE proved a useful method for meaningfully exploring our research questions about our own experiences, then, it was also an exciting and sometimes uncomfortable process that supported reflective thinking and potential development of our practice as teachers and learners.

Project Information

We are three SoTL practitioners working in the area of student-staff partnership in HE across three western countries, in differing roles, and in significantly different institutional contexts. Catherine McConnell is a Senior Lecturer in a Learning and Teaching centre, focusing her work and doctoral research on student-staff partnership, at the University of Brighton in the UK. Beth Marquis is Associate Director (Research) at the central teaching and learning institute at McMaster University in Canada. Her disciplinary training is in film and cultural studies. Lucy Mercer-Mapstone is a PhD candidate and research co-fellow at the University of Queensland, Australia. She currently leads the collaborative design of a university-wide Students as Partners program that aims to embed a culture of partnership at the institution.

You can find out more about our study: Breaking Tradition Through Partnership: Navigating Identities and Dissonance in Student-Staff Partnerships in the EuroSoTL Conference Proceedings, p296.

Catherine McConnell * a, Elizabeth Marquis b, c Lucy Mercer-Mapstone

a Centre for Learning and Teaching, University of Brighton, Sussex, England. C.McConnell@brighton.ac.uk

b Arts & Science Program and MacPherson Institute, McMaster University. Hamilton, ON, Canada. beth.marquis@mcmaster.ca

c Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, 4072, Australia, l.mercermapstone@uq.edu.au, orcid.org/0000-0001-7441-6568

*Corresponding author

 

Blog References

Adams, T. E., Linn, H. J. S. and Ellis, C. (2015). Autoethnography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Chang, H., Ngunjiri, F., & Hernandez, W. (2013). Collaborative autoethnography. London: Routledge.

Jasper, M. (2013) Beginning Reflective Practice. (2nd edition) Hampshire: Cengage Learning.

Johns, C. (2000) Becoming a Reflective Practitioner. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications.

University of Brighton. (2011). Critical Incident Analyses. Brighton: University of Brighton.