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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Publishing SoTL Work: Directions for the Future and Tips for the Present

Written by: Jennifer Friberg, SoTL Scholar-Mentor at ISU

While I was at ISSOTL, I attended a panel discussion on the evolution SoTL research publishing. Editors in attendance represented the following journals:

  • Canadian Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
  • Journal of Excellence in College Teaching
  • Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
  • Journal of Teaching and Learning with Technology
  • College Teaching
  • Teaching and Learning Inquiry

Panelists discussed the changing face of publishing for each of their journals. Most have segued to an open access format successfully; several indicated a strong preference for inter-disciplinary SoTL work to be submitted for review. Looking towards the future, editors recognized a need to increase the involvement of researchers from around the globe through recruitment of SoTL work from other countries, publishing in languages other than English, and increased collaborations with international SoTL colleagues.

All panelists agreed that they have maintained a strong emphasis on providing thorough, but constructive reviews of all submitted manuscripts, indicating a distinct preference for reviewers to treat submitting authors professionally and supportively. Attendees asked questions related to how researchers could maximize their success in having work accepted by these journals for publication. Editor responses centered on a few main themes which can be best summarized as follows:

  1. Think of ways your SoTL work can appeal to a broad readership. While your research might be in one discipline, there are ways to write your manuscript to be inclusive and applicable to other fields of study. Broad disciplinary appeal adds to publishability.
  2. Carefully consider the evidence you present in your study in data-based SoTL work. While data can be quantitative , qualitative or a mix of the two, data should clearly provide evidence for readers to consider which provides novel insights into teaching and/or learning.
  3. Share your work with peers prior to submitting to a journal for consideration. Provide them with the mission and specific criteria for publication for the journal you plan to target for publication. Request feedback and consider making improvements to maximize the flow, content, and style based on feedback you receive.

In 2011, Patricia Rogers published the following recommendations for authors titled: What Makes a Great Article for IJ-SoTL. Those seeking to publish their SoTL research might find this article helpful, as well!

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ISSOTL Recap

From October 22-25, 2014, the annual meeting of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) was held in Quebec City, Canada. Approximately 500 faculty members from all over the globe attended this conference which focused on “nurturing passion and creativity in teaching and learning.” The program for this conference can be found at the ISSOTL¬†conference website.

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Various sessions and meetings were held for attendees:

  • Individual Papers: 200+ sessions featuring faculty presenting SoTL research in 30-minute time slots.
  • Plenary Presentations: Five sessions for all conference attendees to focus on creativity and passion in teaching and learning
  • SIG meetings: meetings for affiliates of ISSOTL’s 10¬†special interest groups (Advancing Undergraduate Research, Arts and Humanities, General Education, National Teaching Fellows/Teaching Award Winners, Pedagogy and Research for Online and Blended Teaching and Learning, Problem-Based Learning, Scholarship of Leading, Sociology, Students as Co-Enquirers, and Student Engagement)

One interesting feature of the plenary presentations was the “live scribing” completed by Brianna Smrke. She worked to conceptualize the content of each plenary visually, and managed to do so quite uniquely! The example below comes from George Bordage’s plenary titled, Three Lessons from Educational Psychology: Spacing, Deliberate Mixed Practice, and Formative Testing.

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ISU faculty attending and/or presenting at ISSOTL this year included Kathleen McKinney (Cross Chair in SoTL), Heidi Harbers (CSD), Jen Friberg (CSD), and Maria Moore (COM). All travel to ISSOTL was funded, in part, by the office of the Cross Chair in SoTL at ISU. Information about funding sources for travel to SoTL conferences can be found at sotl.ilstu.edu.