Arts & Humanities Methodologies and SoTL
by Jessie L. Moore
Last week’s post provided an introduction to what the “habits and values and methods” of the Arts and Humanities look like when applied to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). Extending that discussion, Stephen Bloch-Schulman (Elon University), Susan Conkling (Boston University), Sherry Linkon (Georgetown University), Karen Manarin (Mount Royal University), and Kathleen Perkins (Columbia College – Chicago) examine how Arts and Humanities methodologies uncover new meaning or tell a fuller SoTL story:
As these scholars indicate, Arts and Humanities faculty can – and should – bring their disciplinary research methodologies and methods to SoTL to explore teaching and learning. Sometimes disciplines do not call these inquiry strategies “methods,” but these disciplinary approaches and theoretical frameworks help SoTL investigate patterns of meaning and tell stories about (“narrate”) student learning. New SoTL scholars may find it helpful to revisit texts about research methods in their own disciplines, reflecting on how those methods (e.g., content analysis, interpretation, thick description, etc.) could be applied to investigate student learning. Edinburgh University Press, for instance, has a series on research methods for the arts and humanities, and other publishers offer similar texts for specific disciplines and fields.
In addition to turning back to their home disciplines’ methodologies and methods, SoTL scholars from the Arts and Humanities might find it helpful to read sections of SoTL, qualitative, and educational research texts, including:
- The content analysis introduction in Kathleen McKinney’s Enhancing Learning Through the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: The Challenges and Joys of Juggling (see chapter 6),
- “Montage: Discovering Methods” (Chapter 5) in Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods: A Guidebook and Resource by Steven J. Taylor and Robert Bogdan, and
- “The Artist’s Toolbox: Strategies for Data Collection” (Chapter 3) and “Pentimento: Strategies for Data Analysis” (Chapter 4) in The Art of Classroom Inquiry: A Handbook for Teacher-Researchers by Ruth Shagoury Hubbard and Brenda Miller Power.
Relevant online resources include:
- The “Identifying Evidence” section of Vanderbilt University’s Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Guide and the corresponding “Gathering Evidence” handout,
- Materials shared by the Office of the Cross Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at Illinois State University, including the “Research Methods for Doing the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning” handout by Kathleen McKinney, and
- The annotated bibliography maintained by the ISSOTL Arts & Humanities Interest Group.
Of course, conducting Arts and Humanities SoTL is not only about selecting methods to gather and analyze evidence. Peter Felten argues that all SoTL inquiry should be “methodologically sound,” an idea that Nancy Chick explores in a recent IJSOTL article.
Although the SoTL community continues to work through tensions about methods, these tensions should not deter Arts and Humanities faculty from bringing their disciplinary “habits and values and methods” to the study of teaching and learning.
To that end, Stephen Bloch-Schulman (Elon University), Nancy Chick (Vanderbilt University), Susan Conkling (Boston University), Sherry Linkon (Georgetown University), Karen Manarin (Mount Royal University), and Kathleen Perkins (Columbia College – Chicago) share what they would like faculty in the Arts & Humanities (A&H) to know about the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) in A&H:
Jessie L. Moore (@jessielmoore) is the Associate Director of the Center for Engaged Learning at Elon University and associate professor of Professional Writing & Rhetoric in the Department of English.