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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Neil deGrasse Tyson and Community-Based SoTL Advocacy — Recommendations Inspired by a Popular Science Icon

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

Last week, the online version of The Chronicle of Higher Education published a piece by Vimal Patel titled “What Neil deGrasse Tyson Thinks Higher Ed Gets Wrong.” The article featured an interview with Tyson, a scientist and frequent media contributor/commentator, and discussed his perception that higher education is lacking a reward system (intrinsic or extrinsic) for communicating the work of researchers to the public. In his remarks, Tyson argued that teaching and public service are undervalued in most colleges and universities, relative to research. He posits that this fact contributes to public misunderstandings about science and research, as few researchers are actively and regularly engaged in sharing the findings of their scholarship outside their disciplines or institutions.

While the entirety of this interview focused on Tyson’s feelings toward science-based research, there were evident ties to the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL), as well, particularly in terms of Tyson’s thoughts on advocacy for research. As Tyson spoke of the need to regularly communicate research findings to the public, I was reminded of the idea that taking our SoTL work to the communities around our colleges and universities has been discussed by many as a vital, but often missing, component of SoTL advocacy. Tyson’s ideas tied directly to this notion. In sum, I noted three big takeaways from this article that inform opportunities for community-based SoTL advocacy:

Bring unexpected partners into discussions of SoTL. In his comments, Tyson shares that he interviewed singer Katy Perry on his radio show, much to the dismay of many who viewed Perry as a bad match for the typical science focus of Tyson’s shows. His response?

Why would [I] waste my time? She has more than 100 million Twitter followers. And if I can have a conversation with her about how science has touched her craft, then that brings science to her following. As far as I’m concerned, that adds value.

Why not look at SoTL in a similar fashion? Who can we bring to our craft to expand the reach and value of what we do? What groups of stakeholders can help spread the purpose and benefit of SoTL to others? Digging down, how do each of us identify targets for such advocacy in our own contexts and how might we connect with others for support and help?

Get better at communicating our SoTL research to the public.

Tyson argues that communicating research to the public is something that isn’t valued in higher education, particularly in the United States. He states:

Oxford has a tenured-professor line for the public understanding of science. I know of no such counterpart in the United States. Cambridge has a tenured-professor line for the public understanding of risk. Where is that here? These are [positions] where your ability to communicate is added to your academic chops.

I would argue that by virtue of our interest in SoTL, we are natural communicators. We are fluent in our disciplinary research but we are fluent in SoTL, as well. We translate to advocate, though this mostly occurs in our own institutional or disciplinary contexts. But, how many of us leave those contexts to enter the public sector? If we agree that groups outside our institutions might benefit from expanded SoTL advocacy, how do we get that message out? Might advancement centers, alumni networks, or research offices help? Should we do this work together in a cross-institutional manner? How might we engage established groups (i.e., ISSoTL) in a supportive or leading role for this work?

Keep it simple.

Tyson shared that part of his own development as a science commentator was understanding how his messages about science were most effectively shared. He reported that he believes his popularity in the media and with his followers lies in his ability to distill complex topics into digestible tidbits:

…the press can ask an academic question, and you can give an answer that you might give in a lecture hall. That’s not really the answer they want…I said, why don’t I just give them sound bites? So I went home and practiced in front of [my family]. They’d just randomly bark out questions about the universe, and I would deliver a two- or three-sentence reply. The anatomy of a soundbite has to be tasty, and you have to say, Wow, I’m glad I heard that. It has to…be so interesting that you want to tell someone else.

It’s likely true that once we endeavor to engage with stakeholders outside academia, we need to adapt how we communicate. As a speech-language pathology professor, I have often taught my students about a concept called “code switching,” wherein a speaker adapts how they deliver a message based on their audience. An example I frequently use to show how differently messages can be crafted via code switching is, “how would you ask the following people to open a window;”

When with a friend, you might ask “Dude, would you open the window?”

When with your younger brother, you might more directly say “open that window now!”

In the same room with your boss, you’d likely ask, “do you mind if I open that window?”

If we are seeking to share our SoTL with folks who aren’t academics, we need to learn to code switch a bit and use those communication skills I mentioned above in a slightly different way. We need to craft brief, summative, and engaging messages to appeal to folks unfamiliar with our work in an effort tot draw them in and hold their interest. We don’t need to give a forty minute paper. Rather, we need to make the case for how our SoTL work is important to them and how it might be in the future.

Blog Reference:

Patel, V. (2018). What Neil deGrasse Tyson thinks higher ed gets wrong. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 65(3). Retrieved from https://www.chronicle.com/article/What-Neil-deGrasse-Tyson/244522.

 

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Study Design and Data Analysis in SoTL

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

In June, I visited the University of South Alabama (USA) and worked with Raj Chaudhury and Sue Mattson to get a group of faculty started with their year-long SoTL Academy efforts. Approximately 30 faculty from across USA’s campus came together to learn about SoTL and plan a SoTL project. We spent two days together in workshops and consultations and all participants left with a draft plan for SoTL work they hoped to conduct this current academic year.

This was the second year I was able to join the USA crew for this two-day educational and research development event. Sue and I agreed that a resource that would be valuable for the USA faculty for the second iteration of the SoTL Academy would be something that helped social science-oriented researchers see how SoTL might dovetail with concepts and ideas they already understood well. Thus, the following grids focused on descriptive, correlational, and experimental/quasi-experimental design were drafted and used in discussions about how SoTL might look like participants’ own disciplinary research — and how it might not. This resource is being shared here now, in the hopes that others might find this information valuable, as well.

Should you wish to obtain a copy of this information in PDF form, please feel free to email me at jfribe@ilstu.edu. I’m happy to share!

Descriptive Research
Description of Study Design Descriptive research characterizes a group of people, a context, or a phenomenon. These studies do not seek to establish a causal relationship; rather, they provide information about “what is” occurring or being observed regarding the focus of study.

Descriptive studies include observational, case study, and survey methods.

Exemplar SoTL Projects
  • Survey students’ re: practices in using print vs. online textbooks to support learning.
  • Observe how students’ use of technology in the classroom impacts attention span.
  • Study high achieving students in a course to predict practices/variables of success to share with future students.
Qualitative Analysis Options Qualitative data in a descriptive study is reported as narrative, reflection, open-ended response, field note, etc. Such data will need to be further analyzed for themes, categories, or patterns.

Common qualitative approaches in descriptive SoTL research include: case studies, action research processes, analytic induction, ethnography, comparative analysis, frame analysis, grounded theory, and interpretive phenomenology, among others.

Quantitative Analysis Options Quantitative data in a descriptive study is often reported in the form of descriptive statistics (e.g., mean, median, mode) along with standard deviations. Statistics might be used here, depending on the data collected and the topic being studied.

These data might emerge from test scores, grades on a course assignment or project, survey data, or frequency data.

 

Correlational Research
Description of Study Design Correlational research seeks to determine whether a relationship exists between two or more variables, but cannot determine if one variable causes another. Variables aren’t manipulated; rather, they are observed to determine any relationship that might exist between them.

Note that some sources identify correlational research as a quantitative-only subset of descriptive research, as some descriptive research might suggest a correlation found via grounded theory or other qualitative methods of research.

Exemplar SoTL Projects
  • Determine the relationship between number of hours studying and success on a quiz/test.
  • Identify whether there is a link between the use of peer editing and performance on a writing assignment.
  • Understand whether the use of social media helps students to summarize course content effectively.
Qualitative Analysis Options Qualitative data analysis is not undertaken for correlational research, as numerical data is needed to calculate a correlation coefficient.
Quantitative Analysis Options Correlational research is a quantitative method of inquiry. Correlation can only be determined for quantifiable data. These are data in which numbers are meaningful, usually quantities of some sort. It cannot be used for purely categorical data, such as gender, brands purchased, or favorite color.

Statistics are used to determine a correlation coefficient to identify positive, negative, or zero correlation. One thing to keep in mind is that any identified correlation does not mean that one variable caused the other to react. Instead, correlations simply define that a relationship exists.

 

Experimental/Quasi-Experimental Research
Description of Study Design Experimental and quasi-experimental research designs seek to manipulate one variable and control all others to investigate cause/effect relationships. All participants are assigned to either a control or experimental group. An intervention is applied to the experimental group. The control group has no intervention applied.

The key difference between experimental and quasi-experimental designs is the concept of randomization. If participants are assigned to control and experimental groups randomly, the research design is experimental. Non-random group assignment yields a quasi-experimental research design. True experimental research is considered the gold standard of research by many researchers, because random group assignment leads to optimal internal validity. In situations where random group assignment is not possible or ethical, quasi-experimental designs offer an alternative that allows the research to continue and still produce valid results.

Almost no SoTL qualifies as truly experimental in nature due to inherent ethical and logistical characteristics of SoTL that makes this type of research difficult to conduct (e.g., true randomization). One of the most common quasi-experimental designs for SoTL research is the pre-test/post-test with no control group design.

Exemplar SoTL Projects
  • Does the use of simulated patients help nursing students improve observational skills?
  • Do architecture students who initially design structures by hand understand the concept of space more deeply?
  • Do history students exposed to guided reading demonstrate a deeper understanding of historical imagination?
Qualitative Analysis Options Experimental and quasi-experimental designs may yield data that is descriptive (e.g., surveys, interviews, observations) that require qualitative analyses. Similar to information provided above for descriptive research, any qualitative data will need to be further analyzed for themes, categories, or patterns.

Common qualitative approaches to data analysis in SoTL include: case study, action research processes, analytic induction, ethnography, comparative analysis, frame analysis, grounded theory, and interpretive phenomenology, among others.

Quantitative Analysis Options Experimental design lends itself to more straightforward and simpler types of statistical analysis. Primarily due to the lack of randomization, quasi-experimental studies usually require more advanced statistical procedures. Quasi-experimental designs may also utilize surveys, interviews, and observations which may further complicate the data analysis.

Quantitative analysis requires several steps. First numeric data is assigned a level (nominal, ordinal, interval, or ratio). Next, descriptive statistics are calculated for data (e.g., means, standard deviations). For some studies, descriptive statistics may be adequate; however, if you want to make inferences or predictions about your population, inferential statistics (e.g., t-test, ANOVA, regression) may be indicated.

Blog References:

Bishop-Clark, C. & Dietz-Uhler, B. (2012). Engaging in the scholarship of teaching and learning: A guide to the process and how to develop a project from start to finish.        Stylus: Sterling, VA.

Campbell, D. T. & Stanley, J. (1963). Experimental and quasi-experimental designs for research. Cengage: Boston.

Cresswell, J. W. (2012). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (3rd ed.). Sage: Thousand Oaks, CA.

Gurung, R. A. R. & Wilson, J. H. (Eds.). (2014). Doing the scholarship of teaching and learning: Measuring systematic changes to teaching and improvements in learning. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco.

 

 


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Fall 2018 Program and Funding Opportunities at ISU for SoTLists

Illinois State University faculty and students have a robust selection of programming and funding opportunities this fall. Information below summarizes each. Contact Jen Friberg, Cross Endowed Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, for additional information or to submit information as requested below (jfribe@ilstu.edu).

Programming Opportunities for Faculty & Students

SoTL Advocate Guest Author Incentives: Faculty and students involved in SoTL are invited to submit guest blog posts for The SoTL Advocate, a blog established in 2014 to provide information about SoTL and SoTL research to stakeholders at ISU and beyond. With 14,000 readers a year in over 20 countries, this blog has a wide readership and a strong sharing network for your work. Authors of accepted blog posts will receive a $100 stipend for their contribution.

Certificate of Specialized Instruction in SoTL: Graduate students with a strong interest in teaching and researching in higher education after graduation are invited to join this year’s cohort of students seeking focused study and reflection of research on teaching and learning to facilitate their work as students and as future faculty. All graduate students will receive information about this program, but others can access details at sotl.ilstu.edu.

SoTL Abstracts: The Office of the Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL is preparing a late fall newsletter (to be disseminated campus-wide) to feature the SoTL work of ISU students and faculty. Forward the citation and abstract for any SoTL work you’ve published in 2017 or 2018 for inclusion in this compendium. Be recognized for your work!

1:1 Consultations: Considering a SoTL project, but not sure where or how to start? Arrange a consultation with an experienced SoTL researcher.

Watch for a separate notice about an upcoming half-day workshop on the topic of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting qualitative data for your SoTL study. Dr. Sarah Ginsberg of Eastern Michigan University will be joining us for a hands-on session for faculty and for 1:1 consultations afterward. Save the date – 10/26/18.

Funding Opportunities (Full RFPs, submission guidelines, and review criteria are available @ ilstu.infoready4.com)

SoTL Travel Grants: Applications are being accepted for the SoTL Travel Grant Program for travel to present SoTL work. Funds may be used toward conference registration and/or travel costs. This applies to a trip already taken (and not fully reimbursed) or to be taken, to present SoTL work this fiscal year. We expect to award 10-12 grants for FY19. Please note that faculty/staff are eligible for one travel grant (of any kind) per year. Awards of up to $700 will be available to those presenting SoTL research at disciplinary or other teaching/learning conferences. Special awards of up to $1000 will be available to those presenting at international teaching and learning conferences. There are 2 cycles for SoTL Travel Grants. Applications for the fall award cycle are currently being accepted and must be submitted by 5pm on October 1, 2018. Applications for the spring award cycle will open October 8, 2018, and must be submitted by 5pm on February 4, 2010.

SoTL Seed Grants: Applications for seed grant funding to get SoTL projects up and running will be accepted starting in early September 2018. Grant funds will be awarded (in the form of a stipend) for work toward one of the following: writing an IRB or literature review for a SoTL project, gathering/collecting/analyzing data for a SoTL project, or applying SoTL to solve a teaching/learning issue in your classroom. Up to 12 SoTL Seed Grants in the amount of $250 will be awarded to faculty conducting their first SoTL project. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis from September 2018 through May 2019, with awards granted until funds are exhausted.

 


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Upcoming SoTL Conferences with Open Registrations and/or Calls for Proposals

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

Screen Shot 2018-08-27 at 12.02.03 PMThe Office of the Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL at Illinois State University maintains a list of annual SoTL conferences on the unit’s website. From this list, a review of each SoTL-friendly* conference for the rest of 2018 and into June of 2019 was reviewed to provide interested stakeholders with information focused which have open calls for proposals published at this time. Those with open calls include:

Conference Dates for Event Location of Conference Link to Call for Papers
Research on Teaching and Learning December 12-13, 2018 Hamilton, Ontario, Canada https://mi.mcmaster.ca/rtl2018/#call-for-proposals

10/16/18 deadline for proposal submissions

Lilly Evidence-Based Teaching and Learning Conference January 10-12, 2019 Austin, Texas, USA https://www.lillyconferences-tx.com/proposals

*call is currently for posters only at this time (no final deadline for submissions available on website)

SoTL Commons January 24-25, 2019 Savannah, Georgia, USA http://academics.georgiasouthern.edu/sotlgsu/commons/cfp/

9/17/18 deadline for proposal submissions

Lilly Teaching for Active and Engaged Learning Conference February 28-Mar 2, 2019 Anaheim, California, USA https://www.lillyconferences-ca.com/proposals

10/13/18 deadline for proposal submissions

Transformative Learning Conference March 14-15, 2019 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA http://sites.uco.edu/central/tl/conference/proposals.asp

11/16/18 deadline for proposal submissions

The Teaching Professor Conference June 7-8, 2019 New Orleans, Louisiana, USA https://www.magnapubs.com/teaching-professor-conference/call-for-proposals.html

10/31/18 deadline for proposal submissions

One conference that I don’t have complete information about yet…but do have a location and dates to share is the third EuroSoTL meeting, which is planned for June 13-14, 2019 in Bilbao, Spain. I will share more information about registration and proposal submission as details are available.

Interested in just registering for an event rather than submitting a proposal? Several other SoTL conferences are scheduled for this fall and are currently accepting registrations, including:

International Society for Exploring Teaching and Learning (October 10-13, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona, USA)

Research on Teaching and Learning Summit (October 12, 2018 in Kennesaw, Georgia, USA)

Lilly Advancing Teaching and Learning Conference (October 18-20, 2018 in Traverse City, Michigan, USA)

International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Conference (October 24-27, 2018 in Bergen, Norway)

Symposium on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (November 8-10, 2018 in Banff, Alberta, Canada)

Do you have a conference to add to the ISU SoTL website or to this blog? Email me at jfribe@ilstu.edu and I will add information about your event. have travel funds to share? Definitely contact me! There’s a lot of awesome opportunities for SoTL enthusiasts to take advantage of in the next year!

* SoTL friendly conferences are those that welcome SoTL. Please note that many of these conferences are not solely SoTL conferences, though some are!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Blog References:

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


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Assessing the Integration of SoTL in Your Discipline: Four Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 


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A Look Back at FY18 – SoTL Involvement at ISU

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

gladlyred

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

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

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

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

SoTLFY18

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

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

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

 

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