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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Making the Case for SoTL Self-Advocacy in Academic Job Searches

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

Two close friends are currently on the job market. Presently employed as associate professors (or close to that rank!) each has chosen to seek novel adventures elsewhere in academia. Thus, they are in the process of sifting through position descriptions and polishing their teaching and research statements to submit in the coming weeks, following a course familiar to many in higher education.

search1Each of my friends have been successful disciplinary researchers as well as productive SoTL scholars, though they both represent disciplines that do not consistently value SoTL. As they contemplate phone interviews and campus visits in the near future, they have wondered aloud about how they might contextualize their SoTL work in a way that positions them well in their job searches. While it’s disappointing to me that they have to consider this issue (SoTL should be uniformly valued!), I recognize it’s likely very necessary and, in fact, is smart preparation for their respective job searches.

With that in mind, the contextualization my friends seek as a framework for their SoTL work could actually be a form of SoTL self-advocacy, which I’d define as anything a person does to describe the value of their SoTL work to relevant stakeholders. SoTL self-advocacy might look different across contexts, but in the milieu of a job search, there are definitely steps my friends could take to share the appeal and impact of their SoTL work. Specifically, I would advise each (and would tell others!) that they might do the following to engage in SoTL self-advocacy:

  • Closely examine the mission/vision statements for any institution of interest. Mine these statements for alignment with past and current SoTL projects. Prepare an explanation for how your own SoTL work meshes with or could advance the mission/vision of the institution of interest.
  • Read the strategic plan carefully, noting where your SoTL work matches with current initiatives/efforts being undertaken by your institution of interest. Seek out mentions of student involvement in research, evidence-based instruction, or broad definitions of scholarship. Use these to frame your SoTL work and plans for the future in the interview process.
  • Reflect on the impact of your SoTL work. Many classroom-based SoTL studies lead to changes in curriculum, teaching methods, course design, etc. Be prepared to discuss how SoTL has impacted your teaching or your students’ learning. Have there been impacts to your current department (e.g., curricular changes) that resulted from your SoTL work? These would be important to describe.
  • Closely examine the vitas (hopefully archived online!) of faculty in the department/school/unit you might be looking to join. Determine if any individuals are SoTL-active or could serve as collaborators in the future. Be prepared to talk about how you would engage colleagues in institution-relevant collaborative projects.
  • Visit websites for the teaching and learning center, provost’s office, and/or any other important campus units affiliated with your institution of interest. Look for prompts that support SoTL and precedents for SoTL engagement. Identify individuals on campus who might be in the position to discuss SoTL opportunities at the institution and (if appropriate) attempt to have them included in your on campus interview (or express interest in meeting them if they are not in your interview).

Other ideas for SoTL self-advocacy on the job search? Please post below in the comments section!