Classroom Ecology, the New Voc-Ed, and Academic Writing at the Edge

What happens when you ask three scholars to explore learning spaces from their unique individual and institutional perspectives? Audience members are challenged to reconsider their understandings of physical, program-level, and online learning spaces, along with their expectations for conference plenaries. The Friday, October 4, 2013, Plenary at ISSOTL 2013 featured TED-style talks by Thomas Horejes (Gallaudet University), anthony lising antonio (Stanford University), and Siân Bayne (University of Edinburgh). More information about the speakers and their talks is provided below the video.


Disruptions Shaping Academic Identities in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Like the other ISSOTL Online strands, the Introduction to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) strand showcased video interviews with SoTL experts, live chats with key scholars, and featured readings. The strand benefited from the questions and comments of engaged participants around the globe. Experts explained SoTL as a reflective practice that, as Pat Hutchings noted, brings our habits as scholars to our work as teachers. SoTL’s systematic inquiry ultimately ends though in “loop closing”: course redesign, curricular reboots, and so forth. We learned that scholars continue to grapple with SoTL’s relationship to scholarly teaching and educational research, the selection of research methods, the use (or non-use) of theoretical frameworks, and composing appropriate products for “going public” with SoTL work. The Introduction to SoTL strand of ISSOTL Online also highlighted a growing emphasis on collective inquiry, systematic inquiry with e-tools, and the internationalization and institutionalization of SoTL. Four productive disruptions from these online conversations merit continued consideration as we reflect on lessons learned at ISSOTL 2013 and consider future directions for SoTL: Internationalization, Mixed Methods, Collective Inquiry, and Academic Identity.


International Perspectives on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

The October 2013 issue of Arts and Humanities in Higher Education offers three national perspectives on the book The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Reconsidered: Institutional Integration and Impact by Pat Hutchings, Mary Taylor Huber, and Anthony Ciccone (Jossey-Bass, 2011). Coming on the heels of the recent conference of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, these three articles raise the question of just how international SoTL practice really is.


Situated Studies of Teaching and Learning: The New Mainstream

There is a tendency to view situated research such as SOTL as an attenuated or diminished form of scholarship when contrasted with the mainstream kinds of research published in social science or educational research journals. Traditional research aims to contribute to theory, to achieve generalized findings and principles that are not limited to the particulars of setting, participants, place and time. Situated research is always reported with its full particulars and seeks to describe, explain and evaluate the relationships among intentions, actions and consequences in a carefully recounted local situation. It is therefore seen as contributing less to “knowledge.”

I shall argue that the search for generalizations and principles that transcend participants and contexts is a vain quest. Lee Cronbach observed that “generalization decay.” Jerome Kagan recently called generalization, in both the social and life sciences, “insidious.” Even the gold standard, experimental studies such as clinical trials with randomly assigned treatment and control groups, are often of little value at the level of generalization, but potentially useful when analyzed in their particulars. Situated studies of teaching and learning will emerge as the new mainstream, the gold standard for educational scholarship. SOTL is not at the margins, but at the center.


Future Directions and Emerging Trends in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

In this ISSOTL Online video produced by the Center for Engaged Learning, Arshad Ahmad, Randy Bass, Dan Bernstein, Tony Ciccone, Joelle Fanghanel, Mary Taylor Huber, Pat Hutchings, Katarina Mårtensson, Gary Poole, Joanna Renc-Roe, Jennifer Meta Robinson, and Kara Yanagida discuss future directions and emerging trends in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL).


Key Characteristics of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

In “Principles of Good Practice in SoTL,” Peter Felten describes five principles of good practice in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL): “inquiry focused on student learning, grounded in context, methodologically sound, conducted in partnership with students, [and] appropriately public” (p. 122). We asked ten international SoTL scholars to share what they identify as key characteristics of SoTL. Their responses echo Felten’s principles, but they also explore the range of ways SoTL scholars approach and apply these principles.


The Power of Community Learning: Meshing Rural/Underserved Experiences with a Research Requirement in a Regional Medical Education Program

Atul Gawande, in his recent New Yorker article titled “Slow Ideas,” describes how changes in health care can be difficult to implement quickly, even if the research is credible and the change could lead to profound improvements. Gawande reminds us that social process is critical to the acceptance of new ideas, and he encourages health and medical educators to help their students learn social and community awareness.

The University of Washington School of Medicine (UWSOM) serves as a medical school for five states – Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho (WWAMI). Begun in the early 1970s, the WWAMI medical education program strives to continually improve the environment for student learning even as it has expanded to serve more students in response to regional needs. One of WWAMI’s many innovations was to join with Area Health Education Centers across the five states to offer students transitioning from the first to the second year of medical school a four-week immersion experience with practicing physicians who were providing care for rural and/or underserved populations. The Rural/Underserved Opportunities Program (R/UOP) proved very popular, and each summer 30-50% of rising second year medical students chose to participate. Other students, however, chose to spend the summer between first and second year working on an eight-credit research requirement, the Independent Investigative Inquiry (III). To allow more students to participate in R/UOP, an approach was designed that integrated the research requirement into the R/UOP experience. The result is the R/UOP III.


Studying and Designing for Transfer of Learning

Educational systems are grounded in the assumption that students will use what they learn in future contexts, whether those contexts are future classrooms, future workplace settings, or future community or civic activities. General education curricula in the United States (sometimes called General Studies programs) often are built on the premise that students will apply what they learn from courses across the arts and sciences to act as informed citizens and to be more well-rounded in their careers. Within disciplines, coursework often is structured hierarchically so that subsequent courses allow students to build on prior learning. Yet what do we know about how students use prior knowledge, how can we study this transfer of learning, and how might we design our courses to facilitate successful transfer?


CEL Seminar on Mentoring Undergraduate Research: Call for Applications

Elon University is pleased to announce the 2014-2016 Center for Engaged Learning Seminar on Mentoring Undergraduate Research, a two-year research seminar that supports individuals interested in pursuing research that advances excellence in mentoring undergraduate research. We invite interested scholars from across the disciplines to submit applications to join a cohort of researchers collaborating on the study of evidenced-based, high-quality undergraduate research mentoring practices in diverse academic ecologies.


Student-Faculty Partnerships to Study Teaching and Learning

Many of the good practices faculty use to gather insights from students, such as asking for mid-semester feedback, are helpful, but they typically do not lead to authentic partnership between students and faculty. In most of these cases, faculty frame the questions, students provide answers, and then faculty alone decide whether, and how, to use to that information. This process often resembles a customer-service relationship. How satisfied are you with the teaching in this course? What do you like best, and least, about the class?

Partnership, on the other hand, is a collaborative, reciprocal process. In a partnership, all participants have the opportunity to contribute meaningfully, although not necessarily in the same ways.