I am working on some “stories” about SoTL to support future fundraising initiatives. It is an interesting challenge – until now much of my focus has been on how to facilitate and communicate SoTL within an interdisciplinary community of scholars – what kinds of questions does it ask, what kinds of methodologies does it use, and how can it be rigorous/trustworthy?
Now I am turning my attention to stories and anecdotes and how to “package them” for the layperson (i.e. not a scholar). How can we best describe to the non-scholar what SoTL is and why it is important? I doubt they want to hear about rigour and trustworthiness!! So rather than scholarly ways of classifying SoTL (type of question, methodology, scope), I’m now thinking about the reasons that scholars engage in SoTL. Could this be a better way to tell our story?? Looking at the projects we have supported through the Institute, I think I see 3 different reasons scholars at MRU have had for doing SoTL work:
- Generating and studying innovations in teaching – a teacher (or teachers) has designed a teaching innovation eg. an innovative assignment or a new model to help students conceptualize content or develop skills, and they want to study how well that innovation works in the classroom
- Applying and studying cutting-edge pedagogies in a new context – a teacher (or teachers) wants to try an innovative pedagogy (eg. flipped classroom, reflective writing) that is based on research that already exists, but they want to study it in a new context (usually their own class)
- Understanding the complexities of teaching and learning – a teacher is not necessarily trying something new but is interested in better understanding students’ experiences with difficult topics (racism, social justice), their learning of complex skills such as research or leadership skills, and/or how complicated factors such as diversity and student affect, self-efficacy, or identity influence student learning and experience
For some scholars, these reasons might overlap with each other (especially once the data comes in!!) But do you think this captures most of us? Where would you place yourself?