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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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?
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.
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.
For the last five years, I have been researching and adapting Agile management philosophies and one specific framework, Scrum, to (1) better teach students to collaborate and manage their project work and (2) visually manage my own research projects studying student collaboration.
Agile is an umbrella term for a set of principles and practices that promote planned incremental progress toward larger goals by highly reflective cross-functional teams who self-organize their work. Agile frameworks are grounded in and call for respect for individuals, a team mentality, and accountability to each other and their collective goals.
Because Scrum values careful task articulation and visualization of work, it offers not only a way to improve student learning but also to collect data about that learning in action.
Undergraduate research is well established as a high-impact practice. It helps students participate in knowledge creation, transition to the workplace, and develop their ability to think critically (Johnson, 2006). Faculty who mentor undergraduate research report benefits related to teaching, career productivity, and renewed energy (Noe et al., 2002). The student and faculty benefits of participating in a mentored undergraduate research program coalesce for institutions leading to increased faculty retention, enhanced alumni loyalty, and overall institutional commitment (Clark et al., 2000). However, with the growth of mentored undergraduate research at the disciplinary and the institutional levels, the demand for faculty mentors has also grown resulting in added complexity to faculty expectations. Despite extensive research on the practice’s value to students, faculty and institutions, there is still much to learn about mentoring undergraduate research and the most effective ways to support faculty in their development of mentoring skills and abilities.