Lauren Scharff, Ph.D.
Director for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
Professor, Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership
United States Air Force Academy
- Websites are a relatively easy way to foster broad communication about research and efforts related to SoTL. For example, I am co-creator and a regular contributor to the Improve with Metacognition website. This website has a growing following, and it includes a regular blog (with posts often connecting to SoTL research), resources (many of which are SoTL-based), and provides a means to promote collaborations. One of the current collaborations is a 5-institution SoTL project on the topic of metacognitive instruction. This site helps bring SoTL activities related to the topic of metacognition to broader awareness (although the majority of current followers are academics).
- Institution-level conference days provide a manageable and meaningful way to recognize and celebrate SoTL. At my institution, we hold an annual SoTL Forum that includes a poster session where all the previous year’s SoTL researchers share their work in an open venue attended by faculty, administrators and students. This session reinforces the value that we place on SoTL research and scholarly teaching, and provides an opportunity for faculty across different departments to share their efforts related to teaching and learning. Other events that day include a morning workshop, an invited keynote address, and afternoon panel and talk sessions.
- Education-related conferences with audiences that include people outside of higher education are also a great way to advocate for the value of SoTL. For example, the Global MindED conference in Denver (http://www.globalminded.org/) brings together a broad audience (academics, public officials and community leaders, students, others interested in education at all levels, including those involved in education policies around the world).
Kathleen McKinney, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology, Emeritus
Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL, Emeritus
Illinois State University
SoTL Advocate blog - Early last fall we created a blog for both ISU fac/staff/students and those outside ISU. When we post to the blog (usually every Monday), I also send out a tweet from @ISU_SoTL. The blog highlights SoTL and encourages discussion within the SoTL community on various topics of interest to those working in SoTL at ISU and beyond. "To date, The SoTL Advocate has published original opinion papers about the field of SoTL, shared SoTL resources and tips, and informed readers about SoTL workshops, conference, and experiences." Along with information and resources of use to anyone doing SoTL, we also post blog entries about upcoming opportunities (e.g., small SoTL grants, SoTL Univ award) or important recent events (e.g., SoTL workshops or celebrations) related to SoTL on campus for ISU folks.
- "Walk the Talk" SoTL Application Beyond the Individual Classroom contest at ISU - This spring we held a contest for the 'best' example of an application of SoTL literature and/or original SoTL work/results to improve, change, create re teaching and learning... on campus but at a broader level than the individual classroom. We advertised the contest in many ways and created a standard set of questions each applicant team had to answer and submit as their entry. We (a 3 person selection team -fac who do SoTL) selected a winning team ($2,000 and a plaque) and an honorable mention team ($500 and a plaque). We then announced and shared the winners and projects via our web page, blog, twitter account, internal teaching list serv...Finally, we hosted a celebration event for the winning and honorable mention teams with food, plaque presentations and brief explanation of the projects by the teams. We invited campus members interested in SoTL and the Pres and Provost (both of whom attended!).
Jennifer Friberg, Ph.D.
Illinois State University
Normal, IL, USA
Adapted from a blog post dated 12/1/14
Over the last several years, I have been one of many vocal advocates for SoTL in my professional discipline of speech-language pathology. Through this process, I’ve had the good fortune to meet and collaborate with a wonderful group of individuals interested in teaching and learning. While we have made progress with our pro-SoTL efforts, I have learned firsthand that change can be a slow moving endeavor, particularly in a profession governed by a variety of stakeholders representing several professional organizations and interests. That said, I have also learned that patience with the process can yield encouraging outcomes.
Over the course of the last year, I have been involved in the drafting of my profession’s first ever position paper on SoTL as a meritorious form of scholarship. Happily, recent conversations at my annual research conference indicated that this position paper has had influence in increasing the stature and acceptance of SoTL in my discipline. That said, more work is needed to build upon the foundation the adoption of this position paper has provided for my discipline, for certain. In particular, we need to work to establish a regular and recognized home for disciplinary SoTL work in one of the peer reviewed journals for my profession. Several colleagues and I are working on an initiative to establish a journal specific to SoTL in our discipline at the current time.
Diana Gregory, Ph.D.
Faculty Fellow for Creativity and Innovation
Kennesaw State University
Our scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) work began as a result of a self-study and outside analysis during our accreditation review and then moved beyond the classroom to include curriculum design/reform and assessment (McKinney, 2012). Primarily, the focus of our SoTL project addressed a need to improve student learning outcomes (SLO) around a perceived lack of creativity seen as imagination and originality in student art work in the BFA and BS Art Education degrees. Three questions were a driving force: what are we teaching and why; what do students need to be successful beyond the university; and how do we become accountable?
We used a two-prong approach: first, a faculty learning community studied the meanings and processes of creativity and their implications for teaching and learning, while administration simultaneously initiated a new portfolio review process. The portfolio review was developed over a two year period and resulted in curricular changes that: improved retention and progress to graduation; created philosophical unity among divergent faculty; and shifted the focus from issues of authority and power to a concern for productive student experiences and actual student learning outcomes. The SLOs were also developed to align with the institution’s newly defined university-wide competencies, including skills and dispositions within the field, effective communication, and creative problem solving. The Association of American Colleges & University’s (AAC&U) VALUE rubrics for creativity, oral and written communication, and critical thinking served as guidelines for the development of rubrics piloted in fall 2012. Evaluation of early data demonstrated the need (very early in the learning process) for a specific course addressing creative problem solving and conceptual inventiveness, which has resulted in curricular revisions to the foundational courses in the degree programs.
As our work progressed we moved to make our results public in an effort to reduce the sense of isolation that limited our work. We wanted to “paint a portrait” that revealed the ways in which the SoTL process directly affected the improvement of SLOs after the faculty examined the standards specified through the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and the AAC&U VALUE rubrics. We know that artistic creativity is not ineffable; it can be measured and evaluated like any other ability. Our work has shown us that SoTL principles are applicable even in disciplines that might seem inhospitable and that SoTL can provided a framework for accomplishing a wide variety of (sometimes expected) goals.
Association of American Colleges & Universities VALUE Rubrics. Online at
McKinney, K. (2012). “Making a Difference: Applying SoTL to Enhance Learning.” The Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 12 (1): 1-7.
Trent Maurer, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Child and Family Development
Georgia Southern University
In the Fall of 2014, a group of four SoTL active faculty at Georgia Southern University were invited by the President of the Georgia Educational Research Association to deliver a panel symposium on SoTL at their annual conference (Maurer, Sturges, Arrington, & Lu, 2014). This was an attempt to connect SoTL-active faculty at a major state university with education faculty at other state institutions and with K-12 educators and administrators in the state. It also provided an excellent opportunity to advocate for the presence and value of SoTL in both education research and in the educational community more generally. Further, as the two senior presenters were both from outside the education fields, it provided visibility and exposure for SoTL as an area of research both outside of education and that could be conducted in an interdisciplinary manner.
In addition to the outreach opportunities this provided, there was the unanticipated benefit that two of the faculty members subsequently revised and expanded the presentation into a standing room only session at the 2015 SoTL Commons Conference.
A copy of the GERA presentation was submitted to the Proceedings of the conference and is available here.
Maurer, T.W., Sturges, D., Arrington, N.M., & Lu, H. (2014, October). The Scholarship of Teaching & Learning: Who, what, when, where, why, and how? Panel symposium presented at the 2014 Georgia Educational Research Association Conference, Savannah, GA. Panel Chair: Maurer, T.W.