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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Opportunities to Publicize and Share your SoTL Work Locally

From the Office of the Cross Chair in SoTL, Illinois State University

If you have completed SoTL projects and/or or representations of the project and results (publication citations, web urls…), please consider sending or submitting the appropriate materials to publicize and share your SoTL work locally. Below are some opportunities to do so (and the links to additional information).

Gauisus is the ISU ‘published’, peer-reviewed, on-line, multi-media SoTL publication. SoTL on the teaching and learning of Illinois State University students represented as research papers, notes, essays, posters, websites, videos, etc. are all considered for publication. Currently, Gauisus is published each spring with submissions due in late fall. Details on submitting your work are available at

The Office of the Cross Chair is seeking submissions (500-750 words) for publication on ISU’s SoTL blog: The SoTL Advocate. Blog posts can describe faculty/student SoTL projects, review or summarize recent SoTL research articles, discuss advances in disciplinary SoTL, etc. Contact Jen Friberg ( for more information!

The SoTL at ISU Newsletter is published every September and January. We welcome 250-500 word summaries of your SoTL work about the teaching and learning of Illinois State University students for inclusion in the newsletter. Summaries should include the purpose, method, results, implications, and—if appropriate—applications made and relevance to other disciplines of the SoTL project. Submissions of such summaries are due August 1 or December 1 as a word file to In your email, please indicate the summary is for the newsletter.

SoTL researchers at ISU are profiled in the ‘highlight box’ on our SoTL home page. Send your name, department, photo, and a 2-3 sentence summary of your SoTL work (with a url link if you wish) to for consideration. In your email, please indicate the material is for a possible webpage profile.

If you have made your past or current SoTL work public beyond the local level (through published work or a video or a web site…), please share citations to that work ( These will be added to the list of SoTL publications by Illinois State University faculty, staff, or students on the SoTL website.

Every January a full day symposium on teaching and learning at Illinois State University is organized by the ISU Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology. Papers and posters on scholarly teaching and SoTL are presented. Lunch and a keynote presentation are also part of the event. Please submit your SoTL work to the symposium to share with your ISU colleagues. (



Ideas for Engaging Students in SoTL: Notes from a Panel at the Annual Teaching-Learning Symposium at ISU

At the 2015 Illinois State University Teaching-Learning Symposium, we held a panel discussion on involving students in SoTL projects beyond being subjects/objects of the research. Panelists were Lydia Kyei-Blankson, Educational Administration and Foundations, Phyllis McCluskey-Titus, Educational Administration and Foundations, and Maria Moore, Communication. The author of this symposium submission was Jennifer Friberg, Communication Sciences and Disorders. Below is a summary of the presentation notes from this panel as well as some resources.

Lydia Kyei-Blankson presented on ‘Engaging Students in SoTL Research: Student-Faculty Partnerships’. She offered the following 5 overlapping sets of reasons for engaging students in SoTL.

  • “Bringing student voices into the process of teaching and learning has an undeniably transformative effect” (Manor, Bloch-Schulman, Flannery, & Felten, 2010, p. 4).
  • Provides an opportunity to “socialize” students into the profession and increase knowledge about research, teaching, and learning (McKinney, Jarvis, Creasey, & Herrmann, 2010).
  • Provides learning experiences that go beyond the physical classroom.
  • Students have a lot to contribute to an instructor’s understanding of how students learn; “more authentic and more meaningful” work; richer inquiry and student-centered instead of faculty-centered research. Students bring the student’s perspective to the study. Participatory research and education. Students bear more responsibility for their learning.
  • Distributed educational power and decentralized classroom. “Instead of authority, expertise, power, and responsibility being highly concentrated in the teacher, they are disaggregated among all participants more equally” (Manor, Bloch-Schulman, Flannery, & Felten, 2010, p. 11).

Lydia also argued that students can be engaged in syllabi development, course redesign, and specific SoTL research projects. For the latter, Lydia has had students involved in projects on ‘Examining Interaction and Presence in online Courses’ and ‘Practice, Challenges, and Lesson Learned from Faculty-Student Research.’ Finally, she offered suggestions of what faculty members can do to enhance these collaborative research experiences: be sure the student is interested in the project; know the student’s strengths and weaknesses; be mindful of the student’s time and other commitments; keep the student engaged in all stages of the project from brainstorming ideas to making the findings public; be mindful and fair of credit and authorship; and don’t be too controlling.

Phyllis McCluskey-Titus and doctoral student, Brandon Hensley, shared ideas about ‘What Students Learned as Research Team Participants for SoTL Grant-Funded Studies.’ From past literature, they summarized student outcomes including enhancing students’ research skills (Kardash, 2000); facilitating opportunity/ability to present/publish research (Galbraith & Merrill, 2012); actively engaging students in challenging and anxiety-provoking courses (Micari & Pazos, 2012); establishing positive mentoring relationships (Cox, McIntosh, Terenzini, Reason, & Quaye, 2010); providing “extra-classroom” interaction with professors (Cotton & Wilson, 2006); and helping students understand disciplinary nuances of research (Ryser et al., 2007).

In their own research on student outcomes from participating in SoTL research, students reported developing/learning/experiencing the following:

  • Cognitive, affective, career/life, and interpersonal skills.
  • The value of collaboration.
  • The importance of flexibility in adapting to changes, surprises, and diverse perspectives/styles.
  • The centrality of reflection (debriefing).
  • A sense of struggling when learning to be a researcher.
  • Socialization into the rigors of the field, discipline, and research process.
  • The emergence of a process orientation in addition to a focus on products.

Finally, they shared students’ suggestions for enhancing learning through involvement in SoTL. Students said they needed to have a clear understanding of expectations, be aware of the benefits of their involvement, and better understand SoTL and how it relates to them.

The third panel member was Maria Moore who focused on student involvement in a specific and, perhaps, unusual form of SoTL –‘Student/Faculty Collaboration through Documentary Production.’ Maria began with an overview to documentary as research method pointing out that it is a qualitative method where reality is never captured but is represented and the observer is located in the world represented (Denizen and Lincoln, 1998). This method is also a form of action research and there is full collaborative inquiry by all participants. The researcher is active and involved with the participants (Marshall and Rossman, 2010). More specifically, it has the characteristics of participatory action research. That is, it is a social process, participatory, practical and collaborative, emancipatory, critical, recursive, and aims to transform both theory and practice (Kemmis, McTaggart, and Retallick, 2004).

Numerous documentary benefits were highlighted by Maria including that it is publicly accessible; has “rich, nuanced” levels of information; gives agency and authentic voice to participants; allows concepts to be visualized; captures nonverbal communication, allows for demonstrations in addition to explanation, allows music or animation to underscore key concepts, and can include the role of emotion and aesthetics in the creation and expression of knowledge. In summary, she pointed out “reader participation is different from viewer participation.” Finally, Maria noted several considerations for student collaboration through documentary including resources (people, equipment, time, budget), having “expertise from a champion”, commitment, using brainstorming/feedback/review/support, and remembering to celebrate and honor the documentary and people involved.

Resources Cited above and Other Selected Sources on Involving Students in Research, in SoTL and in Improving Teaching and Learning

Ahmed, J. U. (2010). Documentary research method: New dimensions. Indus Journal of Management & Social Sciences4(1), 1-14.

Bohnsack, R., Pfaff, N., & Weller, W. (Eds.). (2010). Qualitative analysis and documentary method in international educational research. Barbara Budrich.

Bulcroft, K., Werder, C., and Glenn G. (2002). “Student Voices in the Campus Conversation,” Inventio: Creative Thinking About Learning and Teaching. June. George Mason University, Fairfax, VA.

Cook-Sather, A., Bovill, C. and Felten, P. (2014). Engaging Students as Partners in Learning and Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Cotton, S.R., & Wilson, B. (2006). Student-faculty interactions: Dynamics and determinants. Higher Education, 51(4), 487-519.

Cox, B.E., McIntosh, K.L., Terenzini, P.T., Reason, R.D., & Quaye, B.R. (2010). Pedagogical signals of faculty approachability: Factors shaping faculty-student interaction outside the classroom. Research in HigherEducation, 51(8), 767-788.

Denizen, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (1998). Strategies of qualitative inquiry.

Galbraith, C.S., & Merrill, G.B. (2012). Faculty research productivity and standardized student learning outcomes ina university teaching environment: A Bayesian analysis of relationships. Studies in Higher Education, 37(4), 469-480.

Healey, M., Flint, A., and Harrington, K. (2014). Engagement through Partnership: Students as Partners in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. York,UK: The Higher Education Academy.

Kardash, C. M. (2000). Evaluation of an undergraduate research experience: Perceptions of undergraduate interns and their faculty mentors. Journal of Educational Psychology, 92(1), 191–201.

Kemmis, S., McTaggart, R., & Retallick, J. (2004). The action research planner.

Little, S. (ed.) (2011). Staff-Student Partnerships in Higher Education. London: Continuum.

Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. B. (2010). Designing qualitative research. Sage.

McKinney, K., Jarvis, P., Creasey, G., & Herrmann, D. (2010). A range of student voices in the scholarship of teaching and learning. In C. Werder & M. Otis (Eds.). Engaging student voices in the study of teaching and learning (pp. 81-95).

Micari, M., & Pazos, P. (2012). Connecting to the professor: Impact of the student-faculty relationship in a highly challenging course. College Teaching, 60(2), 41-47.

Manor, C., Bloch-Schulman, S., Flannery, K., & Felten, P. (2010). Foundations of student-faculty partnerships in the scholarship of teaching and learning: Theoretical and developmental considerations. In C. Werder & M. Otis (Eds.). Engaging student voices in the study of teaching and learning (pp. 3-15).

Roth, W. M. (2013). The documentary method. In On Meaning and Mental Representation (pp. 169-186). SensePublishers.

Ryser, L., Halseth, G., & Thien, D. (2009). Strategies and intervening factors influencing student social interaction and experiential learning in an interdisciplinary research team. Research in Higher Education, 50(3), 248-267.

Teaching & Learning Inquiry. (2015). A special issue of this journal on “Engaging Students as Co-Inquirers”. Teaching and Learning Together in Higher Education. (Alison Cook-Sather, journal editor).

Werder, C. and Otis, M. (eds.) (2010). Engaging Student Voices in the Study of Teaching and Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Werder, C. and Skogsberg. E. (2013). “Trusting a Culture of Dialogue with Students as Co-Inquirers” in Student Engagement Handbook: Practice in Higher Education. Elisabeth Dunne and Derfel Owen, (eds). UK: Emerald Group Publishing.

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SoTL at the Teaching and Learning Symposium, January 7, 2015

Written by Claire Lamonica, Director, CTLT at Illinois State University

Readers who are regular visitors to this blog know that at Illinois State University, we define the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) as the “systematic reflection/study on teaching and learning [of our ISU students] made public” (emphasis added). One of the most exciting opportunities to make public the various SoTL studies that take place on our campus is the annual Teaching and Learning Symposium, held each January on the Wednesday before classes begin at a conference center adjacent to our campus.

Organized by the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology, the day includes a nationally-known keynote speaker, the announcement of several university-level teaching awards, a poster session, and almost three dozen faculty-led breakout sessions. Recent years have seen registration for the event climb to well over 300 participants (as I write this, there are about 390 faculty, staff, and graduate students registered for the 2015 event), making it the largest single conversation about teaching and learning at Illinois State University to take place at in any given year.

While many of the faculty-led breakout sessions focus on lessons learned through reflection on teaching innovations and experiences (good and bad), a number of sessions each year are proposed by faculty who have engaged in formal studies of teaching and learning and who are ready to share their findings publicly with their peers. In 2015, the Symposium will include seven opportunities to listen to and learn from SoTL scholars who conducted their studies with the help of grants provided by the Office of the Cross Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, as follows:

SoTL Posters

  • Professors Miranda Lin and Alan Bates of the School of Teaching and Learning will share a poster entitled, “Learning through Service: The Contribution of Service-Learning to First Year Pre-Service Teachers.” The poster showcases the results of early childhood pre-service teachers’ service learning experiences, offering insights in to the ways service learning contributes to these pre-service teachers’ attitudes toward teaching diverse student populations as well as their understanding of social justice.
  • Professor Lydia Kyei-Blankson, Educational Administration and Foundations, and Parul Gupta, a master’s candidate in the Technology Department, will present a poster entitled “Student-Faculty Research Mentorships and Collaborations: Practices, Challenges, and Lessons Learned.” The poster explores practices, challenges and lessons learned by master’s and doctoral level students as they negotiate research roles, tasks, and workload in a student-faculty research mentorship or collaborative relationship that culminates in academic publication(s).
  • Professors Emelio Lobato, Corinne Zimmerman, and Thomas Critchfield; Department of Psychology; will offer a poster entitled “Psychology Students’ Beliefs about the Nature of Science: The Role of Research Experience.” The poster reports on the effect of students’ research involvement, noting differences in attitudes about science, endorsement of science myths, and attitudes about psychology as a science for students with and without such research experience.

Posters will be available for viewing throughout the day, but their authors will be present to discuss the research and findings from 11:00-11:45 in Redbird Room E.

SoTL Sessions

  • Professor Lou Reifschneider, Technology Department, will present “Opportunities and Constraints of a Cross-discipline Course Using 3D Printing to Develop Marketable Innovations,” discussing the mechanics of an interdisciplinary (technology and business) product development course and offering a detailed explanation of one student team’s project that culminated with an alpha prototype created through the use of a 3-D printer. The presentation will also offer student feedback on the experience. The session will take place in Fell B from 8:30-9:20.
  • In “Creativity and Innovative Teaching Strategies,” Professor Shelley Clevenger, Criminal Justice Sciences, will highlight the most successful of a series of “outside the box” teaching activities used during two semesters of a Victimology course in 2013. Assignments included having students draw pictures to define terms, role playing, creating various media artifacts (videos, children’s books, comic books, brochures, posters, or art work), interacting with victims, and traveling off campus to tour facilities that serve victims. Results from a student survey, including qualitative comments, will be presented. The session will take place in Redbird A from 10:10-11:00 am.
  • A panel from Educational Administration and Foundations will offer a session entitled “Moving Beyond the Classroom: Effects of Out-of-Class Research on Student Learning,” sharing both the process used to structure an out-of-class research opportunity for students and the learning outcomes that students reported through participation in the research team. The purpose of the study was to understand what types of learning occur when students, with the assistance and guidance of a faculty member, participate in a research project that takes place outside of the structured curriculum and regularly scheduled class time. Panelists are Professor Phyllis McCluskey-Titus and students Anne McDowell, Skylar Guimond, Erin Kuntz, and Sean Creedon. The session will take place in Fell C from 2:00-2:50 pm.
  • Professor Erin Mickulec, School of Teaching and Learning, will present “More than Just a School Visit: Learning Outcomes of an Intensive Field Experience for Pre-service Secondary Teachers,” examining the impact of an intensive clinical experience in a unique educational environment. Results indicated that the experience influenced the participants in terms of working with diverse student populations, having a deeper perspective on the effects of bullying, negotiating power and control in the classroom, and working with middle school students. The session will take place in Fell C from 4:10-5:00 pm.

CTLT is pleased to be starting 2015 with a bang by offering these and many other presentations during the annual Teaching and Learning Symposium. To see a complete schedule for the day, go to the CTLT website or download the new, free Symposium guidebook app. It’s available for both iOS and Android devices.

In the meantime, we wish you the very best for a happy holiday season and a truly restorative winter break!