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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Mikulec Recognized as 2017-18 Chizmar-Ostrosky SoTL Award Winner

The Office of the Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL at Illinois State University is pleased to announce that Erin Mikulec (Ph.D., Purdue University), Associate Professor in the School of Teaching and Learning, is the recipient of the 2018 Dr. John Chizmar & Dr. Anthony Ostrosky Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award. Mikulec has been recognized for her excellence in research in the area of teaching and learning as well as her regular and enthusiastic mentorship of her ISU colleagues in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL).

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Jan Murphy (Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost), Erin Mikulec (Chizmar-Ostrosky Awardee), and Jennifer Friberg (Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL) at the 2018 University-Wide Teaching & Learning Symposium in Normal, Illinois

At ISU, SoTL is defined as “the systematic study and/or reflection of our ISU students made public.” Throughout her tenure at ISU, Mikulec has used this definition to guide a great deal of her scholarly work. In doing so, she has studied the impact of new and unique clinical experiences on her students’ learning, refining her teaching in response to her findings. As Mikulec’s SoTL work has consistently focused on historically under-studied topics in the field of SoTL (e.g., out-of-class learning, study abroad), her efforts have helped to build an emerging evidence-base for other academics to apply to their own teaching and learning practice or research. Her recent SoTL projects have included:

  • Pre-Service Teachers Negotiating Professionalism in Social Media
  • Registered Student Organizations: ISU Equestrians
  • ISU and Purdue North Central in a Clinical Experience at the Alliance School
  • ISU Students at the Alliance School
  • Honors Pre-Service Teachers and YouthBuild of McLean County
  • Professional Development and Perceived Readiness in Pre-Service Teachers in Finland
  • Connecting ISU Students to International Peers
  • Study Abroad in Brighton, England
  • Out-of-Class Learning
  • Study Abroad at ISU: A Campus-Wide Study

Mikulec’s scholarship on teaching and learning has been disseminated across a variety of venues: peer-reviewed journal articles (Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Multicultural Education, Teacher Education and Practice), a book chapter, weblogs, and presentations at numerous local, regional, and international venues.

Mikulec’s contributions as a SoTL mentor and advocate at ISU are notable. In 2016, Mikulec served as a SoTL Scholar-Mentor in the Office of the Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL. In this capacity, Mikulec served as a co-editor for Gauisus (ISU’s internal SoTL publication), regularly contributed to the SoTL Advocate blog, and assisted in the development of ISU’s first “Go Global with SoTL” mini-grant program. In the last three years, Mikulec has also co-created and co-facilitated a variety of SoTL faculty development workshops and has served as a regular Gauisus reviewer. Recently, she co-developed a project to study the campus-wide impact of study abroad at ISU and will mentor two “new-to-SoTL” faculty colleagues as part of this SoTL grant-funded endeavor.

Mikulec was recognized for her receipt of this award at the 2018 University-Wide Teaching and Learning Symposium hosted by the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology at ISU last week. She will be formally recognized at the upcoming Founder’s Day convocation ceremony in February, as well.



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Call for University-Wide SoTL Award Open

Applications are sought for the 2018 Dr. John Chizamr & Dr. Anthony Ostrosky Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award. This award recognizes faculty and academic staff at ISU who have contributed to the field of SoTL, the SoTL body of knowledge, improved teaching, and enhanced learning.

Applications should be submitted by Monday, November 13, 2017. Requirements for application are detailed below. Information about past award recipients and application procedures can be found on the Cross Chair website, as well. Please contact Jen Friberg ( with questions about this award.

SoTL Award18


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Awardee Announced for the 2015-16 Dr. John Chizmar & Dr. Anthony Ostrosky Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award

Dr. Jennifer Friberg (Ed.D., Illinois State University), an Associate Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) at Illinois State University, is the 2015-16 recipient of the Dr. John Chizmar & Dr. Anthony Ostrosky Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award. She teaches in the area of speech-language pathology, and has published SoTL research based on her experiences with students on topics such as student engagement, diagnostic decision making, and the impact of cross-curricular integration. This SoTL research has been presented at international SoTL conferences such as ISSOTL and EuroSoTL and published in journals such as Perspectives on Issues in Higher Education and Contemporary Issues in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Along with three colleagues from CSD, Friberg was an inaugural recipient of the “Walk the Talk” Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) award at ISU.


Friberg has served as a SoTL Scholar-Mentor at ISU for three years, working closely with the Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL to mentor faculty and students in conducting teaching and learning research, deliver numerous SoTL-focused workshops, develop and edit The SoTL Advocate blog, and present original SoTL work locally, nationally, and internationally. She has served as a co-editor for Evidence-Based Education Briefs and is an editor of Gauisus, the internal SoTL publication at ISU.

Friberg has been a strong advocate for SoTL, co-authoring a position statement on SoTL in her discipline, co-founding a disciplinary SoTL journal, and co-authoring the first-ever text on SoTL in communication sciences and disorders: Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology: Evidence-Based Education. She has served as the chair of the SoTL Committee for the Council of Academic Programs in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and was the four-year national chair of Issues in Higher Education, a special interest group focused on SoTL within the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She is a current member of the Advocacy & Outreach committee for the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.

Additional information related to the Dr. John Chizmar and Dr. Anthony Ostrosky SoTL Award can be found here or by emailing Kathleen McKinney at for additional details.

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Walk the Talk SoTL Contest Summary from 2nd Winning Team

Written by Maria Moore (COM), Cheri Simonds (COM), Lance Lippert (COM), Kevin Meyer (COM), Megan Koch (COM), and Derek Story (Director, HR Systems) at Illinois State University

On Wednesday, April 29, 2015, a reception was held to honor two award winning teams from our “Walk the Talk” contest for the best team or academic unit who applied SoTL research results/literature beyond the individual classroom to solve a problem, achieve a goal, or exploit an opportunity resulting in improved teaching or enhanced student learning at Illinois State University.

A summary of the first award winning project was featured in a recent blog post. Today’s blog highlights the work done by faculty in from the School of Communication in an effort to create a new teaching evaluation instrument.. This project, titled Creating a New Teaching Evaluation Instrument for the School of Communication is summarized below with an EXCELLENT list of SoTL literature readers interested in teaching evaluation can use, as appropriate:

What problem(s), goal(s) or opportunity(s) did your team seek to solve or exploit?

A teaching evaluation instrument is a critical strategic resource to ensure quality teaching within a division. It impacts practical issues such as promotion or raises, as well as being fundamental to assessing teaching quality.

We identified that our existing SoC instrument should be reviewed and updated. The assignment was given to our Teaching Effectiveness Committee who identified key problems with the old instrument, meeting bi-monthly revise the instrument. Members of the committee conducted a pilot test in their own courses at the end of the Fall 2013 semester, using both old and new instruments with students. The work of the committee, based on the successful pilot test, resulted in a recommendation for change to the full faculty body in March 2014. The faculty voted unanimously to accept the revision and the new instrument was implemented across all courses at the end of Spring 2014.

What strategies did your team devise to apply best practices from SoTL work to your problem/goal/opportunity?

We have many SoTL scholars in the SoC and it is a common practice to use SoTL literature as we identify problems or opportunities and devise resultant tactical strategies to solve or exploit them. This opportunity was no exception. At our first meeting we recognized the need to examine current literature and best practices to have external support and validation as a foundation for our recommendations.

We conducted a literature review on the current thinking about teaching evaluations as well as effective teaching practices. In addition to the literature reviewed, we also investigated teaching evaluation instruments from comparable and aspirational programs externally and internally.

What SoTL research (your own, colleagues, or from the literature) did you use to support your strategies?

We purposefully sought and reviewed literature from multiple disciplines, not just communication. We also sought current, as well as seminal scholarship on effective teaching practices. We included research from our own SoC scholars, too.

What were the outcomes and how were they assessed or measured?

Last year, one of our committee members ran factor analysis and scale reliabilities for all the SoC Spring 2014 data using the new teacher evaluation instrument. Results indicate that the new evaluation instrument we created performs very well in reliability tests, factor analysis, and predictive capability using regression procedures. And, it provides us the ability to condense aggregate reports of our evaluations into 4 categories or factors.

This analysis resulted in a spreadsheet template distributed to all faculty so they can also calculate their own aggregate factor scores for each subsequent semester. Faculty going for tenure or promotion use this spreadsheet as an element of their materials. Our SFSC also uses this spreadsheet to work with faculty deemed deficient as part of their performance enhancement strategic plan.

Please briefly reflect on the impact of this experience upon your team; in particular consider the specific role of the SoTL literature on your outcomes or consequences.

We accepted the responsibility to revise our evaluation instrument with great humility and a sense of tremendous responsibility. Simply put, we were entrusted with our colleagues’ future, as the evaluation instrument is one of the most important elements used to assess a teacher’s success or lack thereof. A foundation of SoTL literature (as we began and then navigated this responsibility) was both empowering and liberating. Empowerment occurred through the knowledge we gained about best practices as well as profoundly important SoTL research of both the student and the teacher perspectives of the evaluation process.

What are your team’s future plans for this particular project or initiative?

This is the first full academic year when all teachers in all roles in the SoC will use the new instrument. Our committee has the responsibility to continually assess its effectiveness for meeting our goals of the continual improvement of our teachers and our teaching. We are also experimenting with ways to mesh old data and new data from the old instrument and the new instrument for the multi-year reporting of data required for tenure and promotion applications.

What are your plans to make this work public?

We intend to submit a panel discussion about this topic for consideration at the next Central States Communication Association Meeting. We wanted to have this year’s aggregate data to discuss in addition to the project itself, so submission will occur in October 2015.

Literature Reviewed for Project

American Association of University Professors. (1990). Statement on Teaching Evaluations. Retrieved from

Benton, S. L., Cashin, W. E., & Kansas, E. (2012). IDEA PAPER# 50 Student Ratings of Teaching: A Summary of Research and Literature.

Boysen, G. A. (2008). Revenge and student evaluations of teaching. Teaching of Psychology35(3), 218-222.

Calkins, S., & Micari, M. (2010). Less-than-perfect judges: Evaluating student evaluations. Thought & Action, 7.

Center for Research on Learning and Teaching University of Michigan. (n.d.). Gender and Student Evaluations: An Annotated Bibliography. Retrieved from

Chen, W., & Chen, W. (2010). Surprises learned from course evaluations. Research in Higher Education Journal9, 1-9.

Comadena, M., Hunt, S., & Simonds, C. (2007). The Effects of Teacher Clarity, Nonverbal Immediacy, and Caring on Student Motivation, Affective- and Cognitive Learning: A Research Note. Communication Research Reports24 (3), 241-248.

Cornell University Evaluation and Recognition of Teachers Handbook (n.d.). Retrieved from

Dodeen, H. (2013). College students’ evaluation of effective teaching: Developing an instrument and assessing its psychometric properties. Research in Higher Education Journal21, 1-12

DuCette, J., & Kenney, J. (1982). Do grading standards affect student evaluations of teaching? Some new evidence on an old question. Journal of Educational Psychology74(3), 308.

Feeley, H. T. (2002). Evidence of halo effects in student evaluations of communication instruction. Communication Education51(3), 225-236.

Frick, T. W., Chadha, R., Watson, C., Wang, Y., & Green, P. (2008, March). Theory-based course evaluation: Implications for improving student success in postsecondary education. In American Educational Research Association conference, New York.

Hudson, J. C. (1989). Expected Grades Correlate with Evaluation of Teaching.Journalism Educator44(2), 38-44.

Kim, C., Damewood, E., & Hodge, N. (2000). Professor attitude: Its effect on teaching evaluations. Journal of Management Education24(4), 458-473.

Kozey, S. R., & Feeley, H. T. (2009). Comparing Current and Former Student Evaluations of Course and Instructor Quality. Communication Research Reports26(2), 158-166.

Lewis, K. G. (2001). Making sense of student written comments. New Directions for Teaching and Learning2001(87), 25-32.

Marsh, H. W., & Roche, L. A. (1997). Making students’ evaluations of teaching effectiveness effective: The critical issues of validity, bias, and utility. American Psychologist52(11), 1187.

Martin, E. (1984). Power and authority in the classroom: Sexist stereotypes in teaching evaluations. Signs, 482-492.

McCroskey, J. C. (1994). Assessment of affect toward communication and affect toward instruction in communication. In S. Morreale, & M. Brooks (Eds.),1994 SCA summer conference proceedings and prepared remarks: Assessing college student competence in speech communication. Annandale, VA: Speech Communication Association.

Onwuegbuzie, A. J., Witcher, A. E., Collins, K. M., Filer, J. D., Wiedmaier, C. D., & Moore, C. W. (2007). Students’ perceptions of characteristics of effective college teachers: A validity study of a teaching evaluation form using a mixed-methods analysis. American Educational Research Journal44(1), 113-160.

Ory, J. C. (2001). Faculty thoughts and concerns about student ratings. New directions for teaching and learning2001(87), 3-15.

Schrodt, P., Witt, P. L., Myers, S. A., Turman, P. D., Barton, M. H., & Jernberg, K. A. (2008). Learner empowerment and teacher evaluations as functions of teacher power use in the college classroom. Communication Education57(2), 180-200.

Sojka, J., Gupta, A. K., & Deeter-Schmelz, D. R. (2002). Student and faculty perceptions of student evaluations of teaching: A study of similarities and differences. College Teaching50(2), 44-49.

Wilson, R. C. (1986). Improving faculty teaching: Effective use of student evaluations and consultants. The Journal of Higher Education, 196-211.

Wines, W. A., & Lau, T. J. (2006). Observations on the folly of using student evaluations of college teaching for faculty evaluation, pay, and retention decisions and its implications for academic freedom. Wm. & Mary J. Women & L.13, 167.

Wode, J., & Keiser, J. (2011). Online course evaluation literature review and findings. A report from Academic Affairs, Columbia College, Chicago.

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WALK THE TALK: A Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Contest for best application of SoTL knowledge beyond the individual classroom

Written by Kathleen McKinney, Cross Endowed Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Illinois State University

SoTL has a number of purposes or types of value. Most important is its impact on teaching and student learning via application of SoTL data and results. I have been interested, for many years, in the application/use of SoTL work at the classroom level but, also, beyond…at the program, department, institutional, and disciplinary levels. I have published essays on the topic, given keynote presentations about this issue, worked in my disciplinary organization to encourage and reward such application, served for several years on the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning’s Advocacy and Outreach Committee, prepared and discussed ideas with our Provost about using SoTL within the institutional culture, and created faculty development events and opportunities to encourage application. This interest and all of these experiences led to my most recent idea—a contest to recognize the best example of an application of SoTL beyond the classroom at our institution.

I knew I needed help so I turned the idea over to Department of Communication faculty member and past ISU SoTL Scholar-Mentor, Dr. Maria Moore. She took the lead on naming the contest, creating the Call for Applications and the application questions, developing public relations materials, and (later this spring) planning the public recognition event. In the spirit of good teaching-learning practice and SoTL, Maria involved a Public Relations student, Tyler Eilts, and a Graphic Design student, Kelsy Brewer, to assist her.

Though this contest is limited to teams at Illinois State University, I thought those from other institutions might find the idea of interest. The purpose of the ‘Walk the Talk’ contest is “to recognize and encourage systematic and specific application of best practices discovered through SoTL research/literature to the teaching and learning of ISU students beyond an individual classroom.” And “is intended to recognize the best team or academic unit that applied SoTL research beyond the individual classroom to solve a problem, achieve a goal, or exploit an opportunity resulting in improved teaching or enhanced student learning.” Interdisciplinary teams or academic units are also welcome to apply.

Given the goals of the contest and to provide sufficient detail for selection of award recipients, as well as to have consistent information across applications, we decided to ask teams to complete a series of specific questions ( These application questions then align with our selection criteria:

  • Clear description of significant application/impact of SoTL work on teaching and student learning or development to solve a problem, achieve a goal, or exploit an opportunity. The SoTL work may be work by the members of the team and/or SoTL from existing literature.
  • Concrete and appropriate evidence linking successful student attitudinal, learning or developmental outcomes to the specific SoTL work/literature.
  • Impact of the application of SoTL work is beyond the individual classroom level.

The selected award recipients (first place and honorable mention) will be recognized in a variety of ways including monetary awards, a plaque, a public celebration event, and visibility in University websites and/or publications. Recipients, however, will also be expected to help us share their application success story by writing a brief report or reconfiguring their application materials for our SoTL at ISU newsletter and The SoTL Advocate Blog.

For the complete call for applications, go to

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The Dr. John Chizmar & Dr. Anthony Ostrosky Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award at Illinois State University

The recipient of this award for 2014 was Dr. Cheri J. Simonds (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma), a Professor of Communication at Illinois State University.  She has Co-directed ‘Communication as Critical Inquiry’ for the past seventeen years. She and her colleagues were integrally involved in general education reform at ISU. She teaches in the area of communication education and has published several articles in national peer reviewed journals including Communication Education, Communication Teacher, and The Basic Communication Course Annual.


Throughout her tenure at Illinois State University, she has collaborated with colleagues to develop two lines of research on the Scholarship of Teaching Communication as well as the Scholarship of Learning. In terms of the former, she has published work on classroom management training, speech evaluation training, criterion based assessment, interactive instructional strategies, and authentic portfolio assessment. These efforts have been recognized by the Basic Course Division of the National Communication Association (NCA) in naming ISUs ‘Communication as Critical Inquiry’ Course as the Inaugural Program of Excellence Award in 2008. In discussing her SoTL scholarship in the Communication discipline, Simonds stated that the link between teaching and learning is communication, a clear justification for her research agenda.

In terms of the Scholarship of Learning, she has studied the effects of teacher self-disclosure on Facebook on teacher credibility, student motivation, affective learning, and classroom climate. She has also explored the effects of teacher clarity, immediacy, and credibility on student learning. These efforts have provided opportunities to inform teachers of various disciplines the communication skills needed to be effective teachers.

Simonds has co-authored textbooks on Classroom Communication, Intercultural Communication, and Public Speaking. She is the Outgoing Editor of Communication Teacher, lead author on the NCA Resolution on the Role of Communication in General Education, and Chairs the NCA Task Force on Strengthening the Basic Communication Course. The National Communication Association recently honored her with the Inaugural Basic Communication Course Distinguished Faculty Award.

Illinois State University faculty can access the following link for additional information about this award: Dr. John Chizmar & Dr. Anthony Ostrosky Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award for 2015-16.