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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Advocacy & Outreach Sessions at ISSoTL in Calgary

Compiled by Jennifer Friberg, Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL at Illinois State University and co-chair of ISSoTL’s Advocacy & Outreach committee

Next week, SoTL folks from all over the world will gather in Calgary, Alberta, Canada for the 14th annual conference of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSoTL). For this conference, ISSoTL’s Advocacy & Outreach (A&O) committee has developed three panels to discuss needs and opportunities to support SoTL locally and globally. Please join our committee as we facilitate the following panels:

Addressing Issues of Our Times

  • Thursday, 10/12/17 from 8:30-10am – Glen 201
  • Panelists: Lauren Scharff (U.S. Air Force Academy), Jennifer Friberg (Illinois State University), Allison Meder (University of Kansas), Clair Hamshire (Manchester Metropolitan University), and Arshad Ahmad (McMaster University)
  • This panel will share perspectives and lead discussion centered on how we (individual ISSoTL members, the A&O committee, and/or ISSoTL at large) might engage in and support appropriate responses to local, state, national, and international issues that relate to or affect SoTL.

Teaching Stream Positions: Mapping and Advocating for SoTL in Diverse Landscapes

  • Thursday, 10/12/18 from 4-5:30pm – Glen 209
  • Panelists: Diana Gregory (Kennesaw State University), Arshad, Ahmad (McMaster University), Mary Huber (Carnegie Foundation), Trent Maurer (Georgia Southern University), Nicola Simmons (Brock University)
  • The panel will explore the diverse landscapes of teaching stream positions from various institutional perspectives while examining the role of SoTL in how various teaching positions are defined, supported, and evaluated.

Social Media Strategies for SoTL

  • Saturday, 10/14/18 from 8-9:30am – Glen 203
  • Workshop Facilitators: Raj Chaudhury (University of South Alabama), Sophia Abbot (Trinity University), Phillip Edwards (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), John Draeger (Buffalo State University), Jennifer Friberg (Illinois State University)
  • This panel will provide a guided, practical approach to assist either individuals or institutional units that aim to be more intentional in their social media outreach to champion SoTL. This workshop will focus on four specific social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and YouTube.

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Considering a SoTL Conference This Year?

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

SoTL conferences are a wonderful experience for those interested in the scholarly teaching and the scholarship of teaching and learning. In the years I’ve attended such conferences, I have found SoTL folks to be welcoming, collaborative, and interesting. SoTL conferences are also quite facilitative – folks talk about big and small ideas in the sort of commons that Hutchings and Huber (2005, p.1) describe as:

“… a conceptual space in which communities of educators committed to inquiry and innovation come together to exchange ideas about teaching and learning and use them to meet the challenges of educating students.”

What can we look forward to in the upcoming year? Are calls for papers still open? Where can you get more information? Hopefully the following table with selected conferences will help answer some of these questions! Additional conference opportunities/ information can be found here on the ISU SoTL website. Happy planning!

Conference (with link to site) Conference Dates Location Call for Papers?
SoTL Commons March 29-31, 2017 Savannah, Georgia, USA Closed
Midwest Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Conference April 7, 2017 South Bend, Indiana, USA Closed
2017 Learning Conference: Engaging Every Learner May 3-4, 2017 Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada Open through 2/28/17
SoTL Conference May 15-16, 2017 Tiffin, Ohio, USA Opened on 1/25/17 (no end date specified)
Lilly International Conference: Evidence-Based Teaching June 1-4, 2017 Bethesda, Maryland, USA Open through 2/15/17
EuroSoTL June 8-9, 2017 Lund, Sweden Closed
Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education June 20-23, 2017 Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada Closed
Teaching History in Higher Education Conference ** September 13-14, 2017 London, United Kingdom  
International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSoTL) conference October 11-14, 2017 Calgary, Alberta, Canada Open through March 15, 2017
POD Conference (for professional developers) October 25-29, 2017 Montreal, Quebec, Canada Not yet open

**This is the only disciplinary conference on teaching and learning that I have featured here. I’d like to add more to my website (and in future blogs), so please comment below if you know of other conferences that might be interesting to include on future conference lists! Many thanks!


Blog Reference:

Hutchings, P. & Muber, M. T. (2005). Building the teaching commons. Carnegie Foundation for                the Advancement of Teaching.


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Facilitating Metacognitive Awareness Via Perspective Taking

Written by Lisa Vinney, Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Illinois State University

It’s no secret that metacognition, or thinking about thinking to critically evaluate and shape one’s future learning and behavior, is tied to strong learning gains and greater success on a range of cognitive tasks (Dunlosky & Metcalfe, 2009; Koriat, Ackerman, Locke, & Schneider, 2009; Prins, Veenman, & Elshout, 2006; Nelson & Dunlosky, 1991; Koriat & Bjork, 2006; Koriat, 2008). Thus, developing and implementing innovative pedagogies to support students’ metacognitive awareness is a worthwhile endeavor. Borne out of this idea, Jennifer Friberg, current Cross Endowed Chair for SoTL at Illinois State University, and I designed and implemented an independent study for undergraduate Communication Sciences and Disorders students during Spring 2016. This experience was meant to promote deep reflection and metacognitive awareness in relationship to the devastating effects of laryngeal cancer and the complexities of its interprofessional management. Support for studying the results of the pedagogical methods included in this independent study (i.e. quantitative analysis of our results, qualitative coding, and preparation of a presentation for ISSoTL) was provided by a SoTL Research Mini-Award by the immediate past Cross Endowed Chair, Kathleen McKinney.

Accordingly, our work involved offering a semester-long experience to seven undergraduate students who engaged in weekly discussions related to topical, assigned readings on various aspects of laryngeal cancer. During discussions, students engaged with case scenarios and then were assigned the role of one or more individuals from the case (e.g., patient, family, and other professionals). perspectiveThey then answered questions and engaged in discussion about aspects of each case from the perspective of their assigned role. Following each weekly reading and discussion, students answered five standard reflection questions. These reflections were used as a vehicle to determine the efficacy of our pedagogical methods along with a questionnaire administered as a pre- and post- measure called the Metacognition Awareness Inventory (MAI; Schraw and Dennison, 1994). Specifically, we qualitatively analyzed changes in weekly student reflections across the independent study and quantitatively analyzed changes in MAI scores pre and post independent study.

Our pilot data, recently presented at ISSoTL in Los Angeles, indicated that the content of student reflections evolved from a focus on foundational metacognitive knowledge (i.e. student’s knowledge about useful learning strategies and their own personal learning style) to self-regulatory components of metacognitive awareness (i.e. knowledge about planning, monitoring, evaluating, and engaging in specific strategies to facilitate and manage learning and cognition). Currently, we are implementing the same independent study experience with a new group of 10 students. After the completion of the semester, we will again analyze students’ pre- and post-MAIs and weekly written reflections to add to our pilot data. That said, our preliminary results alone indicate that opportunities for discussion-based perspective taking followed by independent written reflections may promote discipline-specific content knowledge as well as higher-level metacognitive processes.

Blog References

Dunlosky, J. & Metcalfe, J (2009). Metacognition. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publishing.

Koriat, A. (2008). Easy comes, easy goes? the link between learning and remembering and its exploitation in metacognition. Memory & Cognition, 36(2), 416-428.

Koriat, A., & Bjork, R. A. (2006). Mending metacognitive illusions: A comparison of mnemonic-based and theory-based procedures. Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 32(5), 1133-1145.

Koriat, A., Ackerman, R., Lockl, K., & Schneider, W. (2009). The memorizing effort heuristic in judgments of learning: A developmental perspective. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 102(3), 265-279.

Nelson, T. O., & Dunlosky, J. (1991). When people’s judgments of learning (JOLs) are extremely accurate at predicting subsequent recall: The ‘delayed-JOL effect.’ Psychological Science, 2(4), 267-270.

Prins, F. J., Veenman, M. V. J., & Elshout, J. J. (2006). The impact of intellectual ability and metacognition on learning: New support for the threshold of problematicity theory. Learning and Instruction, 16(4), 374-387.

Schraw, G. & Dennison, R.S. (1994). Assessing metacognitive awareness. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 19, 460-475.


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The Mind of SoTL: Quotes from ISSoTL 2016

Written by Jennifer Friberg, Cross Endowed Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at Illinois State University

It’s Sunday night and I’m sitting in the airport in Minneapolis on my way home from the annual meeting of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSoTL) in Los Angeles. Using my ridiculously long layover to reflect on my conference experiences, I am happy to report that ISSoTL this year was packed with intriguing ideas, great conversation, and many opportunities to learn. Looking over my notes from the past week, I’m struck by the number of speaker/contributor quotes that I recorded to reflect on in the coming weeks — each of which illustrate the diversity of thoughts and ideas typical of ISSoTL and celebrate SoTL’s big tent quite well. The following is a sampling for your consideration:

We are influenced by narratives of constraint in SoTL. – Karen Manarin (Mount Royal University) during the CUR Pre-Conference Symposium

How do we underestimate power in the students-as-partners movement? — Heather Smith (University of Northern B. C.) during the session titled “Power and voice: A critical analysis of student-as-partners literature”

When things become logical, they become real and then they become second nature. — Tom Klein (Loyola Marymount University) during his plenary titled “Visual logic as a thought structure for framing stories”

Is SoTL about doing better or is it about doing better things? — Tony Ciccone (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) in remarks at the closing plenary titled “Oh the places you’ll go! Imagining the future of and with SoTL”

We speak SoTL as a second language….those of us who know it well need to be translators. — Margy MacMillan (Mount Royal University) in comments to the panel during the closing plenary.

Each of these quotes reflect on important relationships in the scholarship of teaching and learning and focus on key inter- and intra-personal concepts intrinsic to SoTL across a variety of stakeholders: engagement, advocacy, contingency, expression, balance, reflection, mentorship, and integration. While the heart of SoTL is in the classroom — and likely always will be — it was made clear to me last week that the mind of SoTL is focused on interactions and relationships that advance our knowledge of teaching and learning.

I’m thankful to my SoTL colleagues for their contributions last week and look forward (already) to ISSoTL in Calgary in 2017. More to come on ISSoTL 2016 in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

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Student Stories of Free Speech Acts on Campus: a Digital Documentary Film

Written by Maria A. Moore, Associate Professor and Mass Media Program Coordinator in the School of Communication at Illinois State University

free-speechI was thrilled to receive a SoTL Research Mini-Award for June 2016 funding in support of my documentary film exploring the lived experiences of students committing Free Speech Acts at Illinois State University. The grant allowed me to complete eight segments for this documentary and to prepare it for exhibition. Funded work involved additional scripting, voice tracking, graphic design, and final editing for the documentary.

The documentary follows the Free Speech Act experiences of twenty undergraduate communication students in the School of Communication at ISU. The speech acts were based on a topic of the student’s choosing and were conducted in person and in public. Topics included testing on animals, body image, Black Lives Matter, the misrepresentation of women in the media, mental health awareness, and various aspects of state and federal politics. The students spoke about the context and experience of their speech acts, as well as participating in interviews about their topic and about the learning they gained about Free Speech itself.

The documentary will be publicly screened for the first time in Los Angeles in October 2016 at the annual conference for the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (ISSoTL). The conference Telling the Story of Teaching and Learning, accepted the film for the topic threads of ‘learning to tell stories’ and ‘student stories’.

The project may have implications for other SoTL scholars. While this particular digital documentary film specifically follows a variety of student participants in Free Speech Acts at one Illinois State University, this model of inquiry may be practical or inspirational to others who wish to infuse their institution with a different campus-wide Free Speech concept or to document student story and voice through documentary filmmaking techniques.

Questions? Contact Maria at

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New SoTL E-journal in Art History

Written by: Virginia B. Spivey, Michelle Millar Fisher, and Renee McGarry on behalf of AHTR. Queries should be addressed to


Note: This blog is cross-posted on ISSOTL’s blog.

Last year, Art History Teaching Resources (AHTR), a peer-populated open educational resource, began research and development on Art History Pedagogy and Practice (AHPP), a new online, open-access, and peer-reviewed journal launching in fall 2016. Devoted to the scholarship of teaching and learning in art history (SoTL-AH), and funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, this project developed in response to two key issues: first, the recognition that art historians need opportunities to share rigorous pedagogical research produced in the field; and second, the reality that teaching in the discipline has historically been undervalued in both economic and scholarly terms.

To assess the situation, AHTR conducted a preliminary study, including a field-wide survey performed by the research firm of Randi Korn & Associates that drew over 1200 respondents in higher education, art museums, and other arts-related professions. Simultaneously, AHTR undertook a literature review examining 93 academic publications culled from art history, art and museum education, visual and cultural studies, and digital humanities. The findings, published in AHTR’s October 2015 White Paper, revealed that while art historians in higher education frequently talk about and seek out information related to their teaching, the discipline’s major periodicals and professional conferences give minimal attention to pedagogy.  With this clear mandate for the creation of Art History Pedagogy and Practice, an advisory board was formed, a mission statement crafted, and a partnership established with the Graduate Center at the City University of New York to maintain the e-journal on CUNY’s Digital Commons repository.  A Call For Papers has just been released, and publication of the inaugural issue is slated for October 2016.

The AHPP initiative builds on the success of AHTR as space for the exchange of pedagogical ideas in art history. Founded on dual goals to raise the value of the academic labor of teaching and to provide peer support across ranks of tenured, tenure-track, and contingent instructors, AHTR began as a collaboration between Michelle Millar Fisher and Karen Shelby at Baruch College in 2011. Fisher, then a Graduate Teaching Fellow with a background in museum education, and Shelby, then an Assistant Professor of Art History, organized meetings where colleagues shared teaching materials and experiences. Their popularity suggested potential for a digital forum to connect a wider community of practitioners, and gave rise to the website, which launched publicly in 2013 and has grown rapidly to now average over 800 hits each day.  Since January 2015, when the current 2.0 design debuted, it has received more than 267,000 views from over 91,000 educators in K-12, post-secondary institutions, and art museums, and from academic support staff including reference librarians and curriculum designers. AHTR’s administration has similarly expanded to a collective of art historians, working in different professional settings and ranging in experience from early career scholars to those well established in the field.

A key motivation in founding AHPP has been to reinforce the value, complexity, and rigor of the study of teaching and learning. We want SoTL in art history–and in other disciplines–to be recognized as a robust form of scholarship.  We believe this mission can be successfully championed through the combination of OER and peer-reviewed publication.  As the umbrella platform for AHPP, AHTR will continue to push the boundaries of traditional modes of scholarly communication as an OER that facilitates collaboration and sharing in a forum that requires shorter lead time and lighter peer review.

We are especially interested in questions of labor and value in art history teaching as we, in tandem, assess the sustainability of the scholarly publication model in a digital world.  It is worth noting that a Kress grant in 2014 allowed AHTR to pay scholars small stipends to produce open access lesson plans available on the site, but practitioners contribute blog posts with no compensation and the site’s administrative oversight and operating costs are provided voluntarily by the leadership collective. Perhaps ironically, while collaborating to expand AHTR to include AHPP, it became quite clear that journal management would involve a further commitment of unrecognized, and often unpaid, labor.

As AHTR is not formally affiliated with an institution (partnership with the Graduate Center is beneficial and generous but informal) nor a 501c3, it is able to remain financially and administratively independent from the hierarchies established within academia.  Maintaining this autonomy highlights the privileges and pitfalls of working for free as an academic, especially as more and more academics work outside the tenure track. Marginalized scholars, in particular, are more likely to do this sort of work and less likely to be rewarded for it in their career.

This concern speaks to another, equally important need to open up SoTL in art history–including our own project–to critical eyes and feedback around the intersectionality of race, gender, and discourses of global art history.  In a field where a majority of white women perform much of the labor to teach a disciplinary narrative that continues to favor European art, the questions and ethics of labor in the classroom – and the labor of writing about the classroom – come to the foreground, as does the role of race and experience in shaping course content. We hope to bring these questions, and many more from the wider academic community, to bear on the scholarship of teaching and learning with Art History Pedagogy and Practice.

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ISSOTL Down Under!

By Erin Mikulec, SoTL Scholar-Mentor at Illinois State University, Spring 2016

Back in October, I had the opportunity to attend and present at the ISSOTL Conference in Melbourne, Australia. Although I have participated in this conference in the past, this year’s event was an incredible display of the SoTL work being carried out in universities throughout Australia. In addition, there were also a number of plenary speakers and sessions by scholars from around the world, including the United Kingdom, South Africa, and China. Nonetheless, there were a number of common themes that emerged through plenary sessions, roundtables and paper presentations that made me think of the SoTL work being done at Illinois State University.


For the opening plenary keynote, Dr. Katarina Mårtensson discussed the importance of supporting SoTL at the local level. Dr. Mårtensson discussed three levels of investigation within the area of scholarship, including the purpose of the investigation, by whom conclusions are made, and the extent to which the knowledge is shared. It was in this last category that I was able to make many connections to the SoTL work that is carried out at Illinois State University, and the many ways in which it is supported in order to disseminate this knowledge both locally, for instance our journal Gauisus, this blog, and the annual Teaching and Learning Symposium and beyond, such as the Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and the SoTL Commons Conference.

Many sessions also focused on internationalization efforts within institutions and their impact on students. These efforts included institutional commitments to promote internationalization through professional development opportunities, small project grants, and collaborative partners and networks outside of the institution. These resources were centralized within their respective universities and made available to faculty interested in starting their own international projects, with the ultimate goal of providing opportunities for student engagement and assessing student learning. There were also several sessions in which faculty had incorporated international perspectives and projects into coursework. One in particular was done at LaTrobe University among business students, who were tasked with opening a new fashion store in Japanese and English markets. This required students to consider both the market potential and cultural differences and similarities in apparel marketing and consumer culture in each location. They did this through interactions with business students in universities in the U.K. and Japan. The researchers used multiple methods of data collection to determine the student learning outcomes, such as reflections, online discussions with peers in Japan and England, and the culminating project that was a video ad campaign to be used in the respective markets. The students reported that at times there was limited communication with their international peers, which made it difficult to obtain all of the information they needed and wanted in order to carry out the assigned tasks. This is consistent with findings of my own research in these areas and the researcher discussed how this might be addressed in future iterations of the project, such as having students research communication styles across cultures as well as working with the cooperating faculty in other institutions to establish clear expectations for the project. Nonetheless, the project, although it had its challenges, was largely a success. It was exciting to hear the instructor present the findings of this project in terms of how it impacted student learning as well as informed her teaching. Again, it was encouraging to see this work kind of work being carried out in institutions around the world and knowing that the same kinds of support for similar endeavors are growing at Illinois State, such as the Go Global with SoTL! Mini-grant program.

Finally, I attended a session that focused on an international grant team that was examining the concept of student leadership. The discussion in this roundtable led to questions such as, what do we mean when we talk about student leadership? Is the goal to develop a small number of student leaders or is it to develop leadership skills in all students? And, finally, what is the role of institutions in developing leadership in university students? The discussion was rich with multiple perspectives that encouraged further discussion and reconstruction of ideas. However, the focus of the discussion was primarily defining student leadership and the role of the institution, and the idea of how to measure the impact of leadership seemed to be a question for the future. Although no definitive answer was found, the discussion yielded even more questions and it made me reflect on the amount of out-of-class learning also taking place at ISU through various students clubs and organizations. We likely need more SoTL research on the student outcomes from such out-of-class experiences.

However, the most powerful aspect of the ISSOTL conference is that it is a forum that fosters and encourages academics to reflect on their teaching, the learning of students, and how this can inform classroom practice. This was made clear through the variety of sessions I attended in which instructors were taking risks with their teaching and reporting the results, empowered by the positive energy of a supportive environment. This made me reflect on an earlier session in which the speakers discussed the need to “reshape” teaching and learning into SoTL in light of the changing role of the modern teaching academic. The emphasis was on the benefits of SoTL for faculty who are experts in their discipline and therefore may not be familiar with educational research practices. Furthermore, the speakers argued that SoTL provides research opportunities for faculty who are in teaching-intensive institutions. However, there is still a need for the support of chairs and deans, and a consistent understanding of the value of SoTL within the institution. These sessions helped to remind me of the importance of SoTL for scholars in disciplines across the university, whether they are in Illinois or Australia.