The SoTL Advocate

Supporting efforts to make public the reflection and study of teaching and learning at Illinois State University and beyond…

1 Comment

CSI-SoTL: Helping Graduate Students Learn about the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning


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

Last week, I identified several opportunities for ISU faculty, staff, and students in my blog post. This week, in an effort to define and explain a new program at ISU this fall, I will focus on one specific initiative: the Certificate of Specialized Instruction in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CSI-SoTL). The CSI-SoTL program was developed following two successful SoTL Reading Circles in the summers of 2015 and 2016. Students indicated a need for expanded programming, which I have endeavored to provide.

This program was co-developed by the Office of the Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL and the Graduate School at ISU to provide expanded opportunities for graduate students to engage in study and reflection of research on teaching and learning to facilitate successful work as students and as future faculty.

The following provides a bit more information about why the CSI-SoTL program was developed, who might benefit from participating, and what the program will look like as it unfolds this academic year:

Program Benefits

Through a focus on understanding SoTL, learning about how to apply SoTL and thinking about conducting SoTL research, the CSI-SoTL program is aimed at helping participants succeed as students, teachers, and researchers. As many future college/university teachers lack opportunities for purposeful study and reflection on teaching and learning as part of their graduate school experience, this program provides a unique opportunity for participants to gain knowledge and skills in these areas.

All students who complete the certificate program will be provided a certificate and letter of completion for the program that can be appended to professional vitas/resumes in the future to indicate their focused study and reflection in the area of SoTL.


Participants the CSI-SoTL program will develop a thorough understanding of the purpose, definition and applications of the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) to support current and future teaching, learning, and research efforts. Specifically, through in-depth discussions and reflection on SoTL, participants in this program will:

  • Conceptualize SoTL as a form of action, practitioner, classroom-based research
  • Understand the impact of SoTL upon their own teaching and learning
  • Apply SoTL to improve their own teaching and learning
  • Become familiar with resources that facilitate scholarly teaching and SoTL
  • Develop/plan a SoTL research project to conduct in the future


Throughout the year, participants in the CSI-SoTL program are expected to:

  1. Attend a series of three fall seminars*, including:
    • SoTL and My Teaching and Learning 
    • Planning a SoTL Project A (Methods)
    • Sharing a SoTL Project B (Dissemination) 
  2. Develop a SoTL research project in consultation with a faculty SoTL research mentor. Research plans will include research questions, methods, and a plan for dissemination (please note that participants do NOT have to complete their research project, they simply need to outline a plan for a potential SoTL project). Participants will be matched with a faculty member as close to their disciplinary field as possible. Times will be arranged individually for each participant for this part of the CSI-SoTL program in January and February of 2017.
  3. Systematically reflect on their experiences in learning about SoTL while completing the CSI-SoTL program, focusing on the impact of the program on future teaching, learning, and research endeavors. A specific format will be provided as a starting place for all reflections. Reflections will be submitted in April/May 2017.

*Please note that participants will be asked to prepare for each session with a brief reading assignment and a brief written reflection.

Current Program Status

Happily, I can report that over a dozen graduate students are enrolled and are set to begin the CSI-SoTL program in early October. Careful study of this program is planned with outcomes shared here on this blog in the summer of 2017.


1 Comment

Fall SoTL Offerings @ ISU

Redbirds, there are a bevy of SoTL opportunities for you this fall supported by the Office of the Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL at Illinois State University. Please direct questions about these offerings to Jennifer Friberg, Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL (

SoTL Workshops & Trainings

Interested in learning about SoTL? The 2-workshop Introduction to SoTL series (9/29 and 11/10 from 12:30-2pm) is just the thing for you. Designed to introduce attendees to SoTL, describe ways to engage in SoTL inquiry, and examine the benefits of SoTL as part of a productive research agenda, these sessions are intended for faculty/staff/students with little to no prior experience with SoTL. These workshops will be facilitated by Jen Friberg and are open to attendees from all disciplines represented at ISU.

For those with SoTL experience, a workshop called “Measuring Out-of-Class Learning” (11/8 from 1-3pm) was designed to help faculty evaluate student learning via opportunities such as study abroad, service learning and other civic engagement experiences. This workshop will be facilitated by Erin Mikulec (TCH) and Jen Friberg. Faculty from all disciplines are welcome to attend.

Certificate for Specialized Training in SoTL for Graduate Students

The Office of the Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL has partnered with ISU’s Graduate School in developing the Certificate for Specialized Training in SoTL (CSI-SoTL) for graduate students to engage in study and reflection of research on teaching and learning to facilitate successful work as students and as future faculty. All students who complete the certificate program will be provided a certificate and letter of completion for the program that can be appended to professional vitas/resumes in the future to indicate their focused study and reflection in the area of SoTL. The CSI-SoTL program will feature a series of workshops, opportunities to plan a SoTL project with a faculty mentor, and systematic reflection on learning across the experience.

Travel Grants (FY 17)

Applications are currently being accepted for ISU’s SoTL Travel Grant Program – FY17. The program is designed to encourage public sharing of SoTL work related to the teaching and/or learning of ISU students. The program provides partial funding for travel to present SoTL work. Funds up to $700 per application/conference will be awarded. Funds may be used toward conference registration and/or travel costs. This applies to a trip already taken (and not fully reimbursed) or to be taken, to present SoTL work this fiscal year. We expect to award 8-10 grants for FY17. Please note that faculty/staff are eligible for one travel grant (of any kind) per year. Applications are due by October 3, 2016 OR February 6, 2017.


Submissions for Gauisus, ISU’s internal, multimedia SoTL publication are invited at this time (Submission deadline: January 16, 2017). Faculty, staff, and/or students at ISU are invited to submit SoTL work to Gauisus. All scholarly submissions will be peer reviewed in a manner appropriate to the format of the work submitted. Those interested in submitting SoTL work can use a variety of formats for publication in GAUISUS, any of which could demonstrate a scholarly study of the teaching or learning of our students:

  • Research paper/note (15-30 double-spaced page manuscript, 12 point font, APA format)
  • Electronic poster
  • Any of the following, accompanied by a 1-2 page written summary to contextualize content, situation, and impact of your work: photo essay, video essay/documentary, website, blog, wiki. Other representations will be considered, as well.

We are also looking for faculty, staff, and/or students who are interested in serving as reviewers for this issue of GAUISUS. Reviewers will be asked to review 1-2 submissions between December 2016 (early submissions) and late February 2017 and will have their names listed within the publication as members of the review board. Reviewers may be asked to review resubmissions, if necessary. To volunteer, interested individuals should submit, electronically, a current curriculum vita/resume, highlighting editorial reviewer experience and/or SoTL work or relevant sections from a CV to  Jennifer Friberg, ( by 4:00 pm on Monday, November 7, 2015.


Leave a comment

One Idea for Introducing Graduate Students to SoTL: An Interactive Reading Circle

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

SoTL Reading Group 1

In May and June of this year, the Office of the Cross Chair in SoTL sponsored its second annual SoTL Reading Circle for graduate students. Eight students representing varied disciplines (special education, English, sociology, psychology, history, politics and government, geology, and women’s and gender studies) met to learn about the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) and to consider how scholarly teaching and/or SoTL might fit into their lives. The goal of this reading circle was to help students to understand SoTL and its contributions to classrooms, programs, institutions, and disciplines through:

  • exploration of the definitions of scholarly teaching and SoTL
  • identification of possible student roles in scholarly teaching and SoTL
  • discussion of how knowledge of SoTL can enhance teaching and learning
  • conversation centered around topical assigned readings.

I acted as the facilitator for the reading circle and worked to structure our meetings to invite discussion about teaching and learning. Adhering to Gutman, Sergison, Martin, and Berstein’s (2010, p. 36) conceptualization of ownership as a “linchpin for collaboration,” it was a priority for students to understand that SoTL was important to them as both students and as prospective faculty. We talked at length about their roles as scholarly teachers/learners and as scholars of teaching and learning and together generated the following lists of tips for both roles:

Tips for Scholarly Teaching and Learning

  • Find out if your discipline has its own pedagogical journal. Seek it out. Read articles of interest to you. Think about how the research on teaching and learning that you read about is similar to or different from “traditional” research in your discipline. Reflect on these similarities and differences.
  • Think about potential faculty mentors who engage in scholarship on teaching and learning. Set up opportunities to talk with them about their experiences. Ask them to be “meta” and walk you through their thought processes in terms of setting up or reading scholarship on teaching and learning.
  • Consider scholarship on teaching and learning with a “consumer’s mindset.” Even though SoTL is contextualized, reflect on outcomes from scholarship with an eye towards application to support your own teaching and/or learning efforts and use what you learn to improve your practices.

Tips for Scholars of Teaching and Learning

  • Think carefully about your teaching and learning wonderments. Look toward past inquiry to see what has been studied and consider how your research question(s) can be adapted to make new contributions.
  • Seek out mentors to help you structure your project. Invite them – or others – to collaborate with you.
  • Don’t feel as though your SoTL needs to look like the scholarship done by other individuals. Design a project that reflects your interests (in terms of your research question), methods that make sense within your discipline, and ways to share your outcomes that are appropriate to the work you’ve done.
  • Use the resources around you to work smarter and find support for your scholarship (we discussed specific resources here at ISU via the Office of the Cross Chair, including grants, trainings, blog, website).
  • Consider SoTL from a “producer’s mindset,” and think about strategic ways to share your work with others to improve teaching and learning on your campus and beyond.

We engaged in discussions across multiple shared readings from journal articles as well as from The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in and Across the Disciplines (McKinney, 2013). Students drafted possible research questions and collaborated to determine ways in which their questions could be studied. All in all, we spent five hours together having really interesting conversations about teaching and learning. Two students from this summer’s reading circle cohort are currently seeking disciplinary mentors for a SoTL project, to which I say, “hooray!”

Student interest in this past summer’s reading circle opportunity was immense and led to an upcoming collaboration with ISU’s Graduate School for the 2016-17 academic year. My office will be co-piloting a Certificate of Special Instruction in SoTL for graduate students, providing systematic study of scholarly teaching and SoTL as well as a guided experience in planning a SoTL project under the direction of a mentor (hopefully from the student’s discipline…stay tuned!). We are excited to have a new mechanism to introduce graduate students to SoTL and look forward to sharing outcomes from this endeavor in the not-too-distant future.

Blog References:

Gutman, E. E., Sergison, E. M., Martin, C. J., & Bernstein, J. L. (2010). Engaging students as scholars in teaching and learning: The role of ownership. In Werder, C. & Otis, M. (Eds.). Engaging student voices in the study of teaching and learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

McKinney, K. (2013). The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in and Across the Disciplines. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

1 Comment

SoTL Advocacy Via Social Media: Reflections and Suggestions

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


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:

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.

1 Comment

Reflections on ISU SoTL Scholar-Mentor Program

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

For the last three years, at Illinois State University, we have had a program called the “SoTL Scholar-Mentor Program.” I have served as the facilitator of these scholar-mentors. This program overlaps somewhat with scholar programs at other institutions that either fund SoTL researchers/grants or use faculty members as SoTL faculty developers. We also fund a variety of faculty/staff SoTL grants and research. We also use paid and volunteer faculty to assist others with learning about SoTL or SoTL projects. We believe our additional SoTL Scholar-Mentor Program, however, is somewhat unique. In this blog post, I summarize the goals and features of the program, share links to some scholar-mentor reflections, and reflect on the program from my point of view.

The ISU SoTL Scholar-Mentor Program

There are two main goals of the SoTL Scholar-Mentor program. The first goal is to nurture faculty members who are interested in SoTL– but who also have SoTL experience– in terms of furthering their own SoTL work, strengthening their experience as SoTL mentors and faculty developers, and connecting them to the SoTL field beyond campus. The second goal is to provide additional and valuable ‘personnel’ to the Office of the Cross Chair in SoTL so that we can achieve our goals of SoTL support, research, and advocacy.

All tenured or tenure-track Illinois State University faculty members with experience in the scholarship of teaching and learning are eligible to apply to be a SoTL scholar-mentor. Scholar-Mentors receive a course reassignment to the Office of the Cross Chair for the semester(s) for which they are accepted and $3,000 in travel and/or research funds for the fiscal year they are a scholar-mentor. Scholar-mentors were eligible for other SoTL funds open to any faculty/staff member as well. SoTL Scholar-Mentors work directly with the Cross Chair in SoTL and any other scholar-mentors. They have some time to work on their own SoTL project and to travel to SoTL conferences. In addition, they take responsibility for certain SoTL support and mentoring services depending on their expertise, interest, and initiative.

Reflections from Scholar-Mentors

Over the course of the three years, we have had six different SoTL Scholar-Mentors; four of whom served more than one semester. The scholar-mentors represented three colleges and six departments or schools within our university. Several of the scholar-mentors made brief reflective comments about their experiences (Dr. Erin Mikulec of the School of Teaching and Learning, is still serving as a scholar-mentor). I share these below.

A reflection by Politics and Government Professor, Dr. Michaelene Cox can be found at She summarizes some of her work as a scholar-mentor and notes that “…the less tangible, but no less important, result of serving as a SoTL Scholar-Mentor is that I met a host of smart and delightful colleagues from diverse disciplines that I might not have run across otherwise. The position gave me practice and greater appreciation for teamwork and collaborative problem solving. It broadened my understanding of SoTL, and boosted my confidence and experience in mentoring others about this work. And lastly, the past year in service as a Scholar-Mentor provided a unique perspective on the spirit of teaching and learning that forms the foundation of ISU’s mission. “

Dr. Maria Moore, a professor in our School of Communication, offers a brief reflection of her SoTL Scholar-Mentor experience at She explains what she brought to our SoTL support efforts and some of the tasks she performed. She also said that “One of the best parts of the SoTL Scholar-Mentor experience was the collaborative nature of working with the other mentors and with Kathleen McKinney as our leader. As the other scholars came from different disciplines, I was able to learn a great deal from them and through their own mentor activities. There was such a wonderful creative spirit to our collaborative work, and it was deeply rewarding to see the success they had in their own initiatives.”

Drs. Jen Friberg (CSD) and Anu Gokhale (Tech) share summaries of their Scholar-Mentor work in a joint brief article at . Similar to other scholar-mentors they highlighted benefits of their experience including the chance to learn new things, form new networks and partnerships, and collaborate with others. Dr. Friberg, in a personal communication to me, indicated that “her experiences as a SoTL Scholar-Mentor have been instrumental in developing a ever deepening interest in SoTL, peer mentoring, and advocacy for SoTL at and beyond ISU. Work in this capacity allowed me to develop the skills and knowledge I will need to be successful in my role as the Cross Endowed Chair in the coming years.”

Phyllis McCluskey-Titus, professor in Educational Administration and Foundations, in a personal communication to me, wrote “Some of my best experiences doing research relate to SoTL. Helping others design their projects or offering feedback on how they have written their findings was a very rewarding part of my role as a SoTL Scholar-Mentor. I find that SoTL researchers tend to be a lot like my disciplinary colleagues, collaborative and interested in students and their learning, so I enjoyed talking with “SoTL people” about effective teaching and incorporating suggestions from their research into my own classes. Working with Kathleen McKinney and the other SoTL Scholar-Mentors was never work, but always good quality time spent designing programs and services in support of SoTL on our campus with wonderful, thoughtful people from whom I learned a great deal.”

Reflections from the Cross Chair in SoTL

As I look back on the three-year program, several anecdotal conclusions occur to me.

  • All the Scholar-Mentors and all the applicants were women.
  • Scholars indicated several positive outcomes from their experience including learning new things related to SoTL and/or faculty development, meeting new people including in other disciplines and institutions, forming new partnerships sometimes with students, and having new opportunities for collaboration and team-work.
  • Though not mentioned in the above brief reflections, scholar-mentors also worked on their own SoTL research or writing, and traveled and presented their work. All the scholar-mentors attended international SoTL conferences. All the scholars also had previous, current, and/or later funding for SoTL research or travel through this office.
  • Most SoTL Scholar-Mentors became more involved in SoTL in their disciplinary association and/or in the international, multi-disciplinary SoTL field in terms of joining new organizations or professional service.
  • I tried to ‘match’ scholar-mentors with their interests, strengths, or desire to learn new things when negotiating the SoTL support/development tasks on which they would each take the lead or assist. This seemed to work out well for everyone in terms of motivation and success at task completion.
  • I, the Office of the Cross Chair, and those doing SoTL on campus benefited greatly from this program as the Scholar-Mentors often had strengths I did not (e.g., making video documentaries, using social media to promote SoTL and the office; working with external grant agencies…). In fact, most of the scholars came up with new and/or innovative programs or initiatives on which they took the lead and that I most likely would not have accomplished alone.
  • Scholar-mentors generally seemed to be very busy, possibly over-committed, professionally, yet most often were able to complete the support/development work on time and with quality. A few tasks were not completed to the extent I may have had in mind but this occurred rarely and not, necessarily, as the result of any scholar-mentor ‘failures’.
  • I enjoyed my interactions with these women tremendously. We had many successes and accomplishments as well as enjoyed some social time.




Leave a comment

SoTL Think Tank: Fostering Cross-Program Collaboration Within a Discipline

Written by Jerry K. Hoepner, Associate Professor ( and Abby Hemmerich, Assistant Professor ( at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire

The American Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) Academic Affairs Board (AAB) released a report on the role of undergraduate education in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) in June of 2015. Among the concerns addressed by this report is the need to align curriculum and pedagogy across programs. A lack of consistency across programs constrains the portability of a CSD degree to other undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as the generalizability to related educational and healthcare professions.

While this is a discipline-specific example, it is a challenge which faces many disciplines. The reality of today’s educational context affirms that students increasingly seek flexibility in how they assemble their education and the programs that deliver it. This blog addresses one program’s attempt to foster collaboration across institutions operating in the same state university system.

The University of Wisconsin Systems SoTL Think Tank sought to initiate a consortium of faculty from six state programs in CSD. The program was initiated in the spring of 2015 through a UW Systems conference development grant by the Office of Professional Instruction and Development (OPID). The initial intent of the consortium was to share information about current teaching strategies, develop a network of faculty interested in incorporating SoTL research in their programs, encourage sharing of resources and content expertise, foster research and teaching collaboration between programs, increase SoTL and pedagogical knowledge across system programs, and conjointly develop plans for future collaboration (see figure 1).

Figure 1. Purpose and goals of the UW Systems SoTL Think Tank.

think tank.png

Prior to the one-day seminar, attendees responded to a Qualtrics survey about their previous and current perspectives and experiences with SoTL and pedagogy. Most respondents indicated that collaboration happened within their own departments on their own campuses but less across the campus or with similar programs on other campuses (see figure 2). Most attendees felt their home departments valued discussions of SoTL and encouraged research in this area, but implementation of teaching observations was less common (see figure 3).

Figure 2. Pre-conference collaboration data.

fig 2.png

Figure 3. Perceived value of SoTL at home institution.

fig 3.png

A moderator from the host university’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning guided discussions following the framework below:

  • Meet and greet. An informal discussion paired with refreshments allowed the attendees to get to know one another prior to deeper discussions of pedagogy.
  • Discussion of selected readings from disciplinary SoTL text (Ginsberg, Friberg, & Visconti, 2012). Initial discussions of the text allowed attendees to share pedagogical philosophies and connect academic and clinical teaching. Attendees worked within small groups to share experiences and insights related to instruction.
  • What is SoTL and where are people at the outset? Reflecting upon previous experiences with teaching and learning, under the lens of readings within the Ginsberg et al. text, attendees identified the aspects of SoTL that matched their current understanding and where they hoped to be. As you see in the images below (see figure 4), attendees’ conceptualization of the intersection between teaching and SoTL migrated throughout the day from a focus on teacher-learner interactions and pedagogical content knowledge towards evidence-based education and SoTL.

Figure 4. Attendee conceptualizations of the teaching, pedagogy, and SoTL continuum.

fig 4.png

  • SoTL and pedagogy in the discipline. Discussions of the role of SoTL in the discipline, implementation of evidence-based pedagogies, and signature pedagogies within the discipline took place as attendee conceptualization evolved.
  • Action Plans. Following a framework designed by the hosts of the think tank, we worked to assemble dreams (i.e., what would you do if time, money, and other resources were not a limiting factor), goals (e.g., what specific steps will you take next), and potential collaboration surrounding research and teaching interests and needs (see figure 5). Each attendee defined a plan for implementing SoTL at some level into his/her teaching or research for the following academic year.

Figure 5. Action plan (left) and examples of lessons to share (right).

fig 5.pngfig 6.jpg

  • Brag N’ Steal. Attendees brought an innovative lesson to share and discuss. As they presented their lesson plans, it fostered a discussion of how others may draw upon those principles for lessons in their content areas (e.g., a lesson for an adult neurogenic disorders class and how that could be modified for a child language development course). Examples are shown in figure 5 above.

Several projects and plans for follow-up were initiated. This included:

  1. A survivor speaker series exchange which has already hosted its first speaker
  2. A faculty speaker-exchange
  3. A presentation at our disciplinary annual conference in November 2015
  4. A presentation at the UW Systems conference in April 2016
  5. A plan to meet again the following spring, hosted by another program within the system

The program was intended to foster inter-program pedagogical and research collaborations. The conference included one, full-day interaction, intended to foster review of a framework for SoTL research and pedagogical enhancement in CSD. Faculty with expertise in similar content areas were able to connect for future collaboration in teaching resources, as well as research. Further, commonalities across program curriculums provided a basis for initiating discussions of inter-program curricular consistency and compatibility. This could enable students to move seamlessly between system programs (i.e., undergraduate to undergraduate program, undergraduate to graduate school).

Implications & Potential Extensions

This program attempted to initiate a collaboration of disciplinary programs across a system. While not all universities are a part of a state system, as the programs we have described, most programs will have state and regional affiliates in their discipline with whom they may wish to collaborate. As you can see, this is not a process that is quick to implement. Our work thus far is merely a few steps towards our ultimate goals of producing portable curricula, shared standards, cross-program collaboration, and shared expertise. Achieving those lofty goals begins with those initial connections and conversations.

Blog References:

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2015). Academic Affairs Board, “The Role of Undergraduate Education in Communication Sciences and Disorders”, Final Report. Retrieved from

Ginsberg, S., Friberg, J., & Visconti, C. (2012). Scholarship of teaching and learning in speech-language pathology and audiology: Evidence-based education. San Diego: Plural Publishing.


1 Comment

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.