The SoTL Advocate

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

Leave a comment

Decoding was a Success!

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

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

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

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

History faculty engrossed in small group discussions about disciplinary bottlenecks

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

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 11.53.49 AM

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

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

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

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

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


1 Comment

Decoding Comes to Illinois State!

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

Later this week, faculty at Illinois State University have the opportunity to learn about an approach to SoTL known as “Decoding the Disciplines.” Dr. David Pace, Emeritus Professor of History from Indiana University and co-creator of Decoding, will be joining faculty for two separate events:

  • Thursday, 3/29/18: Pace will lead a Decoding event tailored specifically for historians on campus. This 2-hour session will focus on the importance of systematic study of learning and will introduce Decoding to faculty. Happily, we have 25 faculty who have volunteered their time to attend this session!
  • Friday, 3/30/18: Pace will facilitate a full-day workshop for faculty from across campus. Attendees who RSVP’ed for the event include 22 faculty representing five colleges and 13 different academic departments. Faculty will take a deep-dive into Decoding, identifying bottlenecks, experiencing a mock Decoding interview, identifying ways to share Decoding work, and discussing next steps for developing faculty learning communities to begin Decoding work on campus in the next academic year.

What is Decoding? It’s defined by Pace and his colleague (and co-creator of Decoding) Joan Middendorf as:

a process for increasing student learning by narrowing the gap between expert and novice thinking. Beginning with the identification of bottlenecks to learning in particular disciplines, it seeks to make explicit the tacit knowledge of experts and to help students master the mental actions they need for success in particular courses.

Decoding represents a structured process of inquiry with seven distinct steps:

Step 1  Define a Bottleneck

Identify a place in a course where many students encounter obstacles to mastering the material.

Step 2  Define the Basic Learning Tasks

Explore in depth the steps that an expert in the field would go through to accomplish the tasks identified as a bottleneck.

Step 3  Model these Tasks Explicitly

Let the students observe the instructor going through the steps that an expert would complete to accomplish these tasks.

  • Provide a metaphor or analogy for the desired thinking
  • Perform the desired thinking in front of students with a disciplinary example
  • Explicitly highlight crucial operations in the example
  • Repeat this process and make it an integral part of every aspect of the course.

Step 4  Give Students Practice Feedback

Construct assignments, team activities, and other learning exercises that allow students to do each of the basic tasks defined above and get feedback on their mastery of that skill.

Step 5  Motivate the students

Decide what approaches encourage students to excel and then utilize them to create an environment that fosters a positive learning environment.  Identify any emotional bottlenecks that arise from students’ preconceptions of the field or of the material being studied.

Step 6  Assess How Well Students Are Mastering These Learning Tasks
 Create forms of assessment that provide you specific information about the extent of student mastery of the particular learning tasks defined in Step 2 above.

Step 7  Share What You Have Learned About Your Students’ Learning

Share what you have learned informally with colleagues or more formally in SOTL articles and presentations.

Why did I decide to bring Decoding to ISU? The best answer is…faculty interest! I had two faculty members specifically request a Decoding workshop, based on their own experiences learning about Decoding at recent ISSoTL conference meetings. Additionally, across a variety of SoTL workshops in the last year, I noted that several faculty members were considering projects that seemed to be variations of Decoding work. I felt that exposure to this systematic method for understanding novice-to-expert learning might be very helpful. Pace will be the perfect person to draw faculty together and encourage Decoding-style SoTL at ISU!

Pace developed an informational handout to be shared with attendees at this week’s workshops. Graciously, he has agreed to for me to share the information contained in this handout in today’s blog. This information includes the steps summarized above and the following list of resources to learn more about Decoding. Thanks, David! We are excited to work with you this week!

Decoding the Disciplines Web Resources:

Decoding the Disciplines website and access to the Decoding list serve —

History Learning Project



  • 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.


  • 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,, if you have any questions or if you would like to be part of the Decoding the Disciplines Listserv

Leave a comment

Evidence-Based Clinical Education: A Proposed Framework for Consideration

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

Last year, my fellow Teaching and Learning in Communication Sciences & Disorders Editorial Board colleagues and I published a paper describing our vision for the culture of the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) in CSD (Ginsberg, Friberg, Visconti, DeRuiter, & Hoepner, 2017). At that time, we stated:

A central tenant in the practice of speech-language pathology and audiology is that of evidence-based practice (EBP) — the notion disciplinary research (in concert with patient/family preferences and clinical judgement) should serve as the basis for clinical decision making. Ginsberg, Friberg, and Visconti (2012) argued that a similar standard of evidence-based education (EBE) should be in place for making pedagogical decisions in the classroom to support a scholarly, research-informed approach to teaching and learning.

Recently, I’ve been in the process of prepping for a series of three workshops at Adelphi University in New York. The Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders (CSD) kindly invited me to visit with faculty, students, and internal/external clinical educators as part of an effort to infuse the SoTL into their research and educational practices. In doing so, I aim to extend the advocacy work started with the publication excerpted above. This evening, I will be meeting with over 60 on- and off-campus clinical educators to talk about the connection between EBP, EBE, and what I’m calling evidence-based supervision (EBS). I will propose a framework for understanding evidence-informed decision making in all aspects academic and clinical education for CSD students, connecting different stakeholder groups and interests, using the concepts below:

  Evidence-Based Practice Evidence-Based Education Evidence-Based Supervision
Definition Promotes a scholarly approach to clinical practice Promotes a scholarly approach to teaching at the college/ university level Promotes a scholarly approach to clinical supervision combining scientific and pedagogical perspectives and needs
Exists as a balance between ·  External scientific evidence

·  Clinical expertise/expert opinion

·  Client/patient/ caregiver perspectives


·  External pedagogical evidence

·  Teaching/learning expertise/ expert opinion

·  Teacher/student perspectives


·   External pedagogical and scientific evidence

·   Clinical/supervisory expertise/expert opinion

·   Supervisor/ supervisee perspectives

Stakeholders course instructors, clinical educators, TAs, student clinicians course instructors, TAs, students enrolled in academic coursework on- and off-campus clinical educators, student clinicians

In my view, EBP, EBE, and EBS do not exist on separate planes in higher education; rather, each informs the preparation of a well-rounded and well-informed clinician. I would argue, however, that EBS represents the nexus of EBP and EBE, as clinical educators must have a grounding in both scientific and pedagogical research in order to approach clinical education in a scholarly manner. It is possible (though arguably not preferred!) for a course instructor in CSD to engage in EBE while not referencing EBP. Likewise, a clinician could know a great deal about EBP without knowing much at all about EBE. EBS is unique in that it requires a combined focus on understanding teaching and learning and clinical excellence.

This concept of EBS can be applied to other clinical disciplines structured similarly to CSD (e.g., nursing, physical/occupational therapy, dietetics, respiratory therapy, medicine), with evidence-informed decision-making at the heart of client care, and — aspirationally – the preparation of future clinicians. Thus, the construct of EBS might be one that could move clinical professions forward in embracing evidence-informed decision-making in all aspects of academic and clinical education. That said, tomorrow is the first time I take this framework on the road — literally. I’ll share any feedback I receive in a subsequent blog!

Blog References:

Friberg, J. C. (2018, March). Application of SoTL: Using evidence to inform a scholarly approach to clinical education. Workshop presented to clinical educators at Adelphi University, New York City.

Ginsberg, S. M., Friberg, J. C., Visconti, C. F., DeRuiter, M., & Hoepner, J. (2017). On the culture of scholarship of teaching and learning. Teaching and Learning in Communication Sciences & Disorders, 1(1).







Leave a comment

A Preliminary Look at Year 2 of the CSI-SoTL Program at ISU

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

STATE_YourLearningWe are nearing the end of the second year of the Certificate of Specialized Instruction in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CSI-SoTL) program at Illinois State University. This program was co-developed by the Office of the Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL and the Graduate School at ISU to provide an opportunity for graduate students to learn about SoTL, specifically how it can be applied to solve teaching and learning problems as well as how SoTL projects are planned and executed. Graduate students with a strong interest in teaching at the college level following graduation were invited to participate. Nine students are currently enrolled in the CSI-SoTL program. They represent a broad range of disciplines and backgrounds:

  • Six females, three males
  • Five doctoral students representing the disciplines of English, Educational Administration and Foundations, Kinesiology and Recreation, and Special Education
  • Four master’s students representing the disciplines of Business/Accounting, English, Sociology, and Psychology
  • Six of the nine participants were involved in teaching within their discipline

The CSI-SoTL program features three distinct phases:

  1. Seminars: Participants in the CSI-SoTL program attend three workshops across the fall semester on the topics of SoTL & My Teaching and Learning, Asking SoTL Questions, and Executing a SoTL project.
  2. Mentored SoTL project planning: CSI-SoTL participants are paired with faculty from their own discipline (or one closely related) to plan a SoTL project. All students complete a “Project Planning Worksheet” to explore options for research questions, methodologies, dissemination outlets, etc. Students are encouraged to ask their mentors about their experiences with SoTL to learn more SoTL in their own discipline.
  3. Reflection: CSI-SoTL participants reflect on the processes in Phase 1 and Phase 2 by thoughtfully answering 10 reflection questions

Following the completion of Phase One, students were asked to evaluate their experiences across all three workshops they attended. Students indicated the following with quantitative data based on a Likert-type scale where 1=strongly disagree and 5=strongly agree:

Mean SD
I was well informed about the objectives of each workshop in the series. 4.42 .30
I understand the difference between scholarly teaching and the scholarship of teaching and learning. 4.75 .16
Workshop content was relevant to my role as a student. 4.13 .30
Workshop content was relevant to my role as a teacher. 4.6 .24
The content of these workshops stimulated my interest in teaching and learning. 4.63 .18
I am more likely to engage in scholarly teaching/learning as a result of my attendance at these workshops. 4.88 .13
I am more likely to engage in SoTL as a result of my attendance at these workshops. 4.75 .16

When asked to describe the most valuable aspects of the Phase One workshops, students provided the following feedback:

  • Discussions with researchers outside the field of my discipline helped to spur new considerations and facilitated the design of my project.
  • Being able to develop my research question and bounce methodology ideas off other workshop participants was very valuable.
  • The planning worksheet helped put things into perspective about what I could do and how I could do it.
  • Opening up my understanding of what SoTL is was so appreciated. I knew nothing coming in and now I am equipped to learn more in this area.
  • The introduction to SoTL as a discipline and the literature available within our disciplines was wonderful.

One suggestion was provided to improve Phase One, which dealt directly with the fact that students only plan a project as part of this program (the project is not executed). This participant suggested that some form of data collection or extensive literature review be integrated into the CSI-SoTL program as part of Phase One to engage students more completely in the research process.

At this point, CSI-SoTL participants are completing Phase Two of their program and are engaged with their mentors to flesh out a high-quality SoTL project. The entire program is expected to conclude by mid-April. At that point, data from both CSI-SoTL cohorts will be analyzed in-depth to help inform next steps for the CSI-SoTL program, though preliminary plans are in the works to offer the program a third time during the next academic year. One positive outcome from the current cohort of participants is that several students have indicated that they will integrate their SoTL projects (planned in this program) into their dissertation research. WaHoo!

Leave a comment

A Community College Perspective on Creating a SoTL Scholars Program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARCC timeline

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

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

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

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

Blog Contributor Contact Info:

FordCatherine Ford (

PeasleeDeidra Peaslee (




Leave a comment

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

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 8.49.05 AM.png

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 to have it added.

1 Comment

Problems, Opportunities, and Wonderments: Possible Subsets of “What works?”

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

what worksWhen I talk to people new to SoTL — students, faculty, other interested folks — I am sometimes asked what a “typical” SoTL research question might be. Part of my description of SoTL details that a fair amount of SoTL is context-specific and is meant to gather information or data about a fairly restricted population: the students (or teachers) in the course or experience being studied. I explain that while SoTL is not inherently generalizable, if enough people in enough different contexts study similar questions, we can develop standards for high-impact teaching and learning practices that CAN transfer across classrooms, disciplines, and/or institutions. Kuh (2008) wrote of high-impact practices for undergraduate education that exemplify this idea very nicely.

But back to those “typical” SoTL questions…it’s not always easy for those new to SoTL to identify one thing to study in their first SoTL project. In Opening Lines: Approaches to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Pat Hutchings (2000) laid out a wonderful taxonomy of questions to characterize the main foci evident in most scholarship of teaching and learning work: what works, what is, visions of the possible, and theory building questions. She describes “what works?” questions as being the typical starting place for most new SoTL researchers, as topics falling into this part of Hutchings’ taxonomy focus on investigating the effects of different approaches to teaching and learning. Having facilitated numerous “Intro to SoTL” experiences for faculty and students, I wholeheartedly agree with Hutchings that this “what works?” level of inquiry often is the first explored by new SoTL scholars. It is on that level of Hutchings’ taxonomy that I focus my thoughts today.

I have found that it’s helpful to break down “what works?” concepts into three subcategories in an effort to encompass possible areas of SoTL study. I use the following terms, though many others could be substituted easily:

  • Problems exist in the teaching and learning contexts of most instructors, and typically involve doubt, insecurity, or difficulty in some form or fashion. Problems exist when any aspects of classroom environment, course content, or course management cause trouble for students or for the course instructor. Potential problems that could be studied in a SoTL project include:
    • determining how to use problematic classroom space most effectively,
    • managing active learning with large course enrollment,
    • figuring out why a particular class/lab/experience seems to be very difficult for students.
  • Opportunities are variables that become a part of your learning context, whether you placed them there or they occur via happenstance. These are usually perceived by students and course instructors as more positive in nature than are problems. Opportunities that might be studied as part of a SoTL project include:
    • identifying the impact of a study abroad experience,
    • measuring the differences between flipped and traditional teaching designs,
    • analyzing student learning as a result of a service learning associated with a particular course.
  • Wonderments* lead to pedagogies that are integrated into a course/learning context in a creative manner. Wonderments begin with the question “what would happen if we did ___________?” adding something that otherwise wouldn’t exist in a course to address an instructor-conceived idea. Examples of potential wonderments that might be studied in a teaching/learning context are:
    • implementing pre-course modules designed to decrease math anxiety for students in a chemistry course,
    • using arts-based observation methods to help doctors, nurses, or other clinical professionals be more effective diagnosticians,
    • creating a new pedagogy (or merging others together) to see if they support student learning (e.g., combining case study teaching with perspective-taking to encourage students to understand clinical cases more comprehensively).

The examples above are obviously not exhaustive, but are meant to illustrate each of these terms as I use them. Is it possible that overlap exists across the categories of problems, opportunities, and wonderments? I would think so, particularly in terms of wonderments, as a creative idea might be used in addressing a problem or in creating an opportunity. That said, as wonderments occur on their own as well, I thought them to be deserving of their own descriptor.

Why do these possible subcategories of Hutchings’ “what works?” question matter? I have consistently found that using subcategories makes it easier for new SoTL researchers to identify the focus of their first study – and to understand why they are interested in studying that topic. As a SoTL faculty developer, anything that facilitates research on teaching and learning and helps crystalize ideas about SoTL is something worth using!

*The term wonderment was inspired by Dr. Ken Jerich, my dissertation adviser, who regularly used this term in his teaching and research. Obviously, I do now, as well.


Blog References:

Hutchings, P. (2000). Opening lines: Approaches to the scholarship of teaching and learning. Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching: Menlo Park, CA.

Kuh, G. (2008). High-impact educational practices: What they are, who has access to them, and why they matter. AAC&U: Washington, DC.