International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Casebook - Examples of Appealing to the General Public

Submitted by Lauren Scharff on Sat, 05/05/2018 - 13:11

Cultivating Community Advocates for SoTL

Carmen Werder, Ph.D.
Director, Learning Commons/Teaching-Learning Academy & Writing Instruction Support
Western Washington University

The Teaching-Learning Academy (TLA) at Western Washington University is a dialogue forum to study and enhance our campus learning environment. Not only does it include students, faculty, and staff from across campus – we deliberately invite participants from the surrounding community and do our best to sustain their participation over time. Out of 75-100 participants every quarter in TLA, 6-10 regular participants come from the community. We also sponsor an annual academy awards reception in which we recognize individuals and groups both from campus and off-campus that have contributed to our study that year. Many of the individuals and groups recognized come from off campus. As a result of these efforts, people from our neighboring community become some of the best ambassadors and advocates of SoTL work on campus.


SoTL in the Blogosphere: Working-Class Perspectives

Sherry Linkon, Ph.D.

Professor of English and Director of Writing Curriculum Initiatives

Georgetown University

I edit a weekly blog, Working-Class Perspectives, that regularly comments on education and many other themes. The blog reaches several thousand readers a week, including both academics and non-academics such as journalists, community activists, students, and others. In my own writing for the blog, I have drawn on educational research to comment on current issues such as:

  1. Redefining Grit: New Visions of Working-Class Culture, drawing on Duckworth's claims about grit in K-12 education.
  2. The Challenge of MOOCs: Technology, Costs, and Class, commenting on claims that MOOCs would make high quality education more widely available.
  3. College Choice and the Success of Working-Class Students, responding to Crossing the Finish Line, a higher ed study that found that working-class students perform better if they attend more elite schools.


Street-Level SoTL: From Academic Journals to Infographics

Aaron Long
Ph.D. Student and Graduate Teaching Assistant, Department of English
Graduate Assistant, Center for Teaching Excellence
The University of Kansas

The following infographic pertains to the current conversation about representing teaching for a non-specialized readership. The information is based on a study I did on learning styles in my ENGL 101 and ENGL 102 courses. While learning styles are sort of a stale way of tracking student learning, the data I had collected suggests that “stale” forms of inquiry might still be fresh for new-media translations of SoTL precisely because what’s “stale” in journals is yet unpublished in infographic and other forms. Reasonably, then, a non-specialized readership may know little or nothing about learning styles and may be interested in how they have been considered in research on student learning.

The “big-picture” view of things provided by this infographic glimpse may be able to do a number of things: 

  1. This view of what’s being studied in college and university classrooms might be an easier way to sell state budget makers on the merits of funding a university. 
  2. Infographics might, for example, show parents that the English Department takes education very seriously and is invested in constant course and curriculum refinement to ensure that their students get the best education possible. 
  3. Perhaps infographics are good for raising press awareness of developments in public university classrooms and the ways in which education makes students more employable at the same time it improves their university experience. 
  4. Since infographics are considerably easier to publish than journal articles, this sort of data can be rolled out quickly and then explained in greater detail in a peer-reviewed article; while the article is forthcoming, the infographic may draw attention to its findings so that others are interested in reading about the scholar/instructor’s findings. 

This is my hope, anyway. These are just a few of the potential applications that come to mind. We will not know of their breadth or success until we have undertaken a concerted, focused effort.

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