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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Seeking Input About SoTL Across the Teaching Stream

The International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning’s (ISSoTL) Advocacy and Outreach Committee (A&O) is interested in gathering stories about full-time teaching-stream faculty’s experiences engaging in SoTL. Various names for these teaching-stream positions include, but are not limited to, instructional limited term faculty, permanent but not eligible for tenure, equivalent to tenure-track (eligible for tenure), etcetera (we will be collecting part-time instructors’ stories in a later phase of our project – watch for that call).

Building on our SoTL A&O Committee session at ISSoTL in Calgary in 2017, we wish to collect these stories to compile them (with no names or other identifiers unless you expressly ask us to include your name) into a web-based resource for members on the ISSoTL website. We also intend to offer a session at ISSoTL 2018 to examine the narratives and their compelling themes and hope to write a paper for the ISSoTL journal, Teaching and Learning Inquiry. We are inviting you to participate in this research study by submitting your narrative as outlined below.

We are particularly interested in collecting a wide range of teaching-stream perspectives on the following issues (feel free to add your own to this list):

  1. Are you able to engage in SoTL?
  2. When you engage in SoTL, what barriers or supports do you encounter that are related to your position?
  3. Are SoTL grants or other forms of monetary research support available to you?
  4. Are there other exclusions or incentives for engaging in SoTL relating to your position?
  5. What supports or institutional factors (including culture) would assist you in engaging in SoTL within your institution?

Please view the types of resources given on ISSoTL Advocacy and Outreach webpage at http://www.issotl.com/issotl15/node/114. Please comment on those and tell us what additional tools could the A&O Committee provide to support your SoTL work.

Along with your responses to the above questions, when submitting please include your name and email (for contact purposes only; these will not be shared with others), and the nature of your appointment: its title/type and any other defining characteristics of your appointment. We recommend up to 500 words and hope that you would not spend more than 30 minutes (likely less) writing it. Your notes do not have to be in full narrative format – you are welcome to write a narrative or to send bullet points or other notes.

Please also indicate whether you wish a) to have your name (and any other identifiers included), or b) to have the narrative treated as confidential, or c) to have the narrative re-written, by combining with other narratives, into a synthesized new narrative. These options are offered as we wish to respect your right to give voice to your experience and be identified for that, but we also respect your wish to not be identified. We do not anticipate any negative risks to you in participating in the study of these narratives. We do, however, encourage you to carefully consider whether you want your name associated with your narrative, as you may wish to submit your narrative in confidence.

If you choose option a) or b), submissions may be edited or shortened, with your permission, for use on the ISSoTL webpage.

By submitting your narrative, you indicate that you 1. have read and understood the relevant information 2. may ask questions in the future 3. are giving your free consent to research participation. Your submitted narratives will be stored on my password-protected computer and destroyed after 3 years. Your identity will be known only to me unless you ask to have your name included with your narrative when it is uploaded to the website.

As noted above, the narratives will be included on the ISSoTL website, included in conference presentation, and a paper submitted to the ISSoTL journal. We will notify you via the ISSoTL listserv to let you know when each of these is occurring.

The study has been reviewed and received ethics clearance though the Brock University Research Ethics Board (file #17-348).If you have any questions pertaining to your participation, please contact Dr. Nicola Simmons, Principal Investigator at nsimmons@brocku.ca or by telephone at 905-688-5550, extension 3137. You may also contact Brock University’s Research Ethics Office (reb@brocku.ca (905)688-5550, ext. 3035) who can provide answers to pertinent questions about the research participants’ rights.

If you have any questions about your participation, or if you wish for any reason to withdraw at any time, please contact Dr. Nicola Simmons at nsimmons@brocku.ca or by telephone at 905-688-5550, extension 3137. Your participation is of course voluntary. You may withdraw at any time, including after your narrative has been posted to the website. If you do withdraw, your data will be deleted as immediately as possible. There will be no penalties to you of any kind for withdrawing or refusing to participate.

If you have any questions about this project, please contact Nicola Simmons (nsimmons@brocku.ca). If you agree to participate, please forward your narrative notes to Nicola Simmons at nsimmons@brocku.ca.

We warmly encourage you to share this call with colleagues.

With many thanks in advance,
A&O Teaching Stream Sub-Committee
Nicola Simmons, Lauren Scharff, and Diana Gregory

Please note, this call for input was cross-posted on the ISSoTL listserv.

 

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Prospective Students and Parents: An Opportunity for Macro-level SoTL Advocacy?

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

considerRecently, I have started to wonder if we, proponents of and for SoTL, might be missing an opportunity to connect with an important group of stakeholders as part of our “typical” SoTL advocacy. We regularly and routinely share the value and importance of SoTL with faculty and campus administrators. We advocate within our disciplines and across our institutions. Conversations at SoTL conferences have focused – rightly so – on the lack of student voices in our SoTL work. So many SoTL folks now strongly advocate for students to be partners in our SoTL endeavors. These are important, impactful efforts to continue building SoTL and likely always will be! That said, I think many of us are leaving an important group — prospective students and parents — out of our campus-level (macro) SoTL advocacy.

I will admit to having a unique perspective on this topic: my son is currently a high school junior. We have looked at numerous college websites and have visited half a dozen colleges. It was during one of these visits that my son asked a faculty member he met, “do you have the chance to do SoTL research here?” I was surprised by his question. I had been wondering the same thing, but figured that was simply because SoTL is my professional passion. I hadn’t stopped to consider that my son might care about this, too. Prospective students might really benefit from knowing that a university supports the study of student learning to improve teaching. For prospective parents, this might be equally important to inform discussions and priorities related to college choice.

At a time when the general societal attitudes are not always kind to higher education, it may be truly valuable that we demonstrate to prospective students and parents that there is meaningful research being conducted on student learning that is meaningful in the context of our individual institutions. Sharing how this research can improve the student experience at a university might help these stakeholders make important choices based not on “brand,” but rather on substance.

What mechanisms could be utilized to support the sharing of SoTL work with prospective students and parents at your university? I offer several suggestions below, though this is hardly an exhaustive list!

  • Provide information (perhaps linked on your institution’s admissions website) about SoTL on your campus. Highlight the work of faculty and students. EXPLAIN why SoTL matters!
  • Record and report testimonials on the impact of SoTL for students on your campus website. Specifically describe how course instructors use or apply SoTL to improve student learning. SHOW how SoTL makes an impact.
  • It might be even more important to include information about SoTL accomplishments on specific department/unit websites. Reports have shown that the most common web searches engaged in by prospective students and parents are specific to majors/minors/academic programs than any other. CONTEXTUALIZE discipline-specific SoTL work.
  • Think about how social media is used on your campus. I follow the Instagram and Twitter feeds from my son’s “top five” universities. It’s remarkable how much you can learn about what a university values just by doing this! Sadly, I’ve very rarely seen posts about student learning or SoTL from these accounts, though such posts would be very appropriate, and helpful. Think about how you can work with your institution’s social media managers to reach prospective students and parents through accounts such as these to advocate for the SoTL being done on your campus. INTEGRATE SoTL into your institution’s public image.
  • Encourage admissions officers and other campus social media managers to share information relative to SoTL news and accomplishments on your campus. ADVOCATE for SoTL work to be shared.
  • Social media/websites aren’t the only way to reach prospective parents and students, though they are likely the most common. Identify mechanisms at your institution that could be useful in sharing information about SoTL to this group of stakeholders. Perhaps an alumni magazine, community publication, or other outlet exists where information about SoTL can be shared. CONSIDER the possibilities for sharing SoTL in print and via other media.

 


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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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Sometimes, there is more than the road…

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

Last fall, my son was struggling to complete a two-mile run in the required time frame to qualify for his high school’s varsity soccer team. Despite having met all other requirements, a nagging injury was making this last sksponge bobill particularly difficult.  On his third try, he was able to cross the finish line under the required time period…thankfully! Evidently, as he ran, my son channeled Sponge Bob*, chanting “focus on the road…there is nothing but the road” to concentrate on each step he took until his task was accomplished. In this case, a singular focus was appropriate and successful.

Why do I share this story about my son? Last week, I had a long conversation with a former colleague about SoTL advocacy. This colleague suggested that the only necessary advocacy for SoTL on a college campus involved provision of financial support for faculty SoTL research and associated travel. She went on to say that it was the role of individual faculty members to advocate for their SoTL research and to choose to involve (or not involve) students in these endeavors. Her assertion was that my role as a campus advocate for SoTL was so one-dimensional immediately reminded me of my son’s Sponge Bob quote. My colleague clearly believed that for SoTL advocacy, the focus should be only on the road (research support). I would argue there is much more to attend to!

In my view, SoTL advocacy is complex and is necessarily deep and broad, involving a variety of stakeholders across a host of contexts. In July, I questioned whether the 4M framework could support SoTL advocacy. As I prepared my internal FY17 report for my institution’s administration, I’ve listed the accomplishments of my office as aligned with the major objectives that were set a year ago. Additionally, I’ve assessed successes in advocating for SoTL in at the micro, meso, macro, and mega levels. Though this was not a requirement of my institutional review, I felt there might be benefit in understanding which levels might need more support, moving forward. A few strategies that I’ve employed this year in each area of the 4M framework are described below:

       
Micro

(individual level)

Meso

(departmental level)

Macro

(institutional level)

Mega

(beyond institution)

·   Designed leveled SoTL workshops for faculty (Intro series and “master” classes for those with SoTL experience.

·   Co-created a certificate program for graduate students to learn about SoTL and plan a SoTL project with a disciplinary mentor.

·   Developed a mechanism to provide annual reports to college Deans and department/school directors to outline SoTL involvement and productivity for faculty and students. ·   Provided travel funds for 14 faculty to attend twelve different national/international research conferences to present their SoTL research.

·   Provided support for two new disciplinary SoTL journals.

·   Provided consultations to two departments, detailing efforts to increase visibility of SoTL on campus and acceptance of SoTL for promotion and tenure. ·   Utilized ISU’s SoTL Resource group to aid in strategic planning, workshop topic identification, and advocacy priorities.

Looking at my activities since July, I can now fully appreciate the perspective slotting each into micro, meso, macro, or mega categories allows. I feel as though I have been most effective at providing support for SoTL on the micro, macro, and mega levels; however, I noted that there is likely more for my office to do at the meso level. This information is important and has aided in setting goals for my office for FY18 — and would have been missed in the planning process without this extra analysis. Overall, this process helped me answer my question from July – yes, the 4M framework can be helpful in considering many aspects of SoTL advocacy. I would now argue that it can help plan AND assess advocacy efforts with an eye towards identification of opportunities for improvement.

Reflecting on needs and accomplishments has helped me draft major FY18 objectives for my office. While I may tinker a bit before these are finalized, I envision the following as the focus of the coming fiscal year:

  1. Harness social media and other web-based platforms (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, SoTL Advocate blog, Cross Chair website) to promote SoTL and provide resources for ISU faculty, staff, students, and administration.
  2. Support the design, completion, and dissemination of SoTL work by ISU faculty, staff, and students.
  3. Engage in internal and external collaborations to increase the visibility of and acceptance for SoTL at ISU and beyond.
  4. Increase involvement in SoTL nationally and internationally by members of the ISU community.

This process had led me to wonder how others how others engage in assessment of their SoTL advocacy efforts. Are there other models or frameworks being used? What are the metrics you use to determine successful advocacy or to anticipate needs for the future?

*Screen shot taken from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0fORGwg45M. While I am not a fan of Sponge Bob, I was happy to see that my son’s television viewing when he was younger was actually useful to him at a later age!


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Might the 4M Framework Support SoTL Advocacy?

Written by: Jennifer Friberg, Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL at Illinois State University

Within SoTL, there are as many similarities as differences. As SoTL scholars, we are alternately inter- and intra-disciplinary in our focus. We operate within different areas of our big tent. We disseminate our work locally, but often seek national and global audiences. SoTL is diverse and different and context-specific but also uniformly focused on improving teaching and learning.

This dynamic orientation for SoTL impacts how we share and advocate for SoTL. With the work I have been doing the last several years, I have found that I advocate differently for SoTL based on my immediate audience: individual researchers, students, department chairs, university administration, disciplinary leaders and organizations. This is likely true for many of us, as we seek support for the important work we do with SoTL. I have often wished for a more organized – or perhaps more efficient – way to conceptualize my SoTL advocacy strategy. In my readings today, I may have found one.

Wuetherick and Yu (2016) recently shared their study exploring the state of SoTL in Canada, reporting input on practices and trends from the perspective of 140 respondents, each SoTL scholars in Canada.  Input from these individuals (gathered via survey) was organized across a four-level framework, which I will term the 4Ms for efficiency: mega, macro, meso, and micro. Use of this 4M framework allowed interpretation of data important to understanding SoTL from a variety of viewpoints, representing individuals and groups. Each of these levels is defined below:

Capture

Data from the Wuetherick and Yu (2016) study provided focused perspectives on each of these levels of influence, alerting readers of interesting trends such as these:

  • While SoTL research influenced 99% of respondents to change the design and implementation of their course, only 52% worked in institutions where SoTL is encouraged via promotion and tenure policies.
  • Different academic/disciplinary departments/units valued SoTL inconsistently, with 50% of respondents indicating that their departmental culture encouraged participation in SoTL.
  • Two-thirds of respondents felt as though there have been increases in the quality and quantity of venues for sharing SoTL work, but only 35% reported adequate campus-level funding for SoTL work.

While these data (and the rest contained within the study) help to inform the state of SoTL in Canada, they also provide a very solid foundation for SoTL advocacy in that country. There is a clear starting point in terms of where attention could be drawn to benefit the micro level (increase funding for SoTL work), the meso level (encourage meaningful changes in departmental culture for greater support of SoTL), the macro level (adapt promotion and tenure policies to support the work of SoTL scholars), and the mega level (continue to increase the profile of dissemination outlets for SoTL work).

Others could use a similar model. Single institutions could survey faculty or others could band together in a more collaborative effort (as was seen in Canada) to outline regional or national priorities for advocacy based on available data. All in all, it would seem as though the 4M framework might give an important starting place for purposeful and strategic advocacy across shareholders to advance and grow SoTL.

Blog Reference:

Wuetherick, B. & Yu, S. (2016). The Canadian teaching commons: The scholarship of teaching and learning in Canadian higher education. New Directions in Teaching &


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SoTL Advocacy Via Social Media: Reflections and Suggestions

Written by: Jen Friberg, SoTL Scholar-Mentor at Illinois State University

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Over the last two years, I have (sometimes grudgingly) endeavored to use social media to learn about SoTL and share my thoughts and interests related to SoTL with others. As a SoTL Scholar-Mentor at Illinois State, I have regularly used Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress to share the SoTL work happening at ISU and beyond. That said, I initially resisted the siren’s song of social media for professional use, preferring to use social media for personal communications and connections. Over time, my thoughts on this topic evolved as it became evident that others were harnessing social media effectively, sharing their professional work and ideas more widely with social media than without. Further, I realized that SoTL, a movement that is growing, global, and appealing to people of many ages, has natural synergy with social media as users can capture current research, ideas, applications, and events central to SoTL and publicly share them with large (and varied) networks of users. I am now a happy convert, and access social media often to learn about and to promote SoTL.

At the SoTL Commons conference in March, I attended a presentation by Josephine Csete and Janice Chia of Hong Kong Polytechnic University titled: Using social media to build your SoTL research & profile: The “what,”why,” and “how.” This presentation underscored  the vast influence social media has in society with billions of people using social media in a variety of ways to share thoughts and ideas with others. Csete and Chia did an excellent job of citing data to support the use of social media in SoTL, sharing the following:

  • There is evidence to suggest that an active online presence may directly impact a researcher’s credentials as measured though traditional metrics (Bik & Goldstein, 2013).
  • Sharing publications on Twitter is statistically correlated with increases in downloads and early citations of work (Shuai, Pepe, & Bollen, 2012).
  • Articles that are “highly tweeted” were 11 times more likely to be cited in subsequent publications than those were not shared via social media (Eysenbach, 2011).

I mentioned above that I am a social media convert. That said, having prior experience using social media for personal use didn’t make me an expert in using social media to advocate for SoTL. I learned a few lessons (some more easily than others!) along the way:

  1. Harness social media to the extent of your comfort. There is no reason to put yourself in a position where you are doing something that you are uncomfortable with or overwhelmed by. Start slowly with using social media and build your involvement over time to create a sustainable routine and purpose.
  2. Select social media platforms purposefully. There are numerous social media platforms — I won’t list them all here. Wikipedia provides a list of the top 15 social media apps with links to explain each, which provides a good start to understanding the diversity of options available to those interested in using social media. Select the platform most aligned with the reason you’re choosing to use social media. I started a blog to share SoTL resources and feature the work of a variety of SoTL contributors and researchers. That would have been more difficult to accomplish via a different type of social media.
  3. Don’t be afraid to share. Use social media to share your SoTL work, your favorite SoTL articles, and the SoTL work (properly cited) of others. Share images that reflect SoTL. Contribute to the Commons. We acknowledge that SoTL represents a big tent, with many diverse ideas and disciplines represented within — and having diversity in contributions focused on SoTL via social media is essential.
  4. Be patient. It may take a while to develop a following on social media, but keep contributing. A lack of followers does not mean that you don’t have thoughts worth sharing…it may simply mean that you haven’t yet been “found” by like-minded SoTL folks. Alternately, a lack of followers over time could mean that you have selected a platform that is incongruous to your goals for using social media.
  5. Develop a personality via social media that promotes authenticity. There is no “one way” to use social media to advocate for SoTL. Represent yourself on social media in a way that is unique to you. Develop a voice, a style, and a manner that is personal, authentic, and genuine. Anything else will be hard to sustain!

 

Blog References:

Bik, H. M. & Goldstein, M. C. (2013). An introduction to social media for scientists. PLoS Biology, 11(4): e1001535.

Csete, J. M. & Chia, J. (2016). Using social media to build your SoTL research & profile: The what, why, and how. Presentation at the SoTL Commons conference in Savannah, GA. Retrieved from: http://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2091&context=sotlcommons

Eysenbach, G. (2011). Can tweets predict citations? Metrics pf social impact based on twitter and correclation with traditional metrics of scientific impact. Journal of Medical Internet Resources, 12: e123.

Shuai, X., Pepe, A., & Bollen, J. (2012). How the scientific community reacts to newly submitted pre-prints: Article downloads, Twitter mentions, and citations. PLoS ONE, 7: e47523.