SoTL #1 – So what’s the answer?

This is a reflection on the questions asked in the Scholar module of Ontario Extend. This is about the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning – SoTL. I’ll look closely at each of these questions, one at a time, and craft a separate entry for each one. Here are the big questions.

  • SoTL #1: What are the three key characteristics of SoTL that are meaningful to you?
  • SoTL #2: What would motivate you to become more engaged in SoTL activities?
  • SoTL #3: What areas of teaching practice would you like to explore?
  • SoTL #4: What’s the plan for this SoTL inquiry?
  • SoTL #5: Going public? where, when, why and how?

So what’s the answer? I don’t know. Just like in good teaching, the answer lies in the struggle. My teaching practice is ever shifting, always informed by student learning.

Reflecting on the video – Key Characteristics of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning –  where key characteristics of SoTL are identified, the three that resonate for me, in no specific order of importance, are:

  • the syllabus as a hypothesis“: Since I’ve been struggling with the crafting of a syllabus document, as many instructors do, it’s been several years of examining closely how to improve student engagement and learning with the syllabus as a primary focus for learning. I’m currently looking at the open options for syllabus creation where students craft the syllabus when they enter the course. How will this practice impact student learning of the required course content? It’s something I’d like to try but have continued to struggle with student expectations and context specific requirements for syllabus production.
  • the amateur work of SoTL“: Since I don’t have a research background or a specific research skill set, will what I do really matter in the end? Will it meet the rigorous standards of those who do the work of research? As a contract, sessional instructor, my work in SoTL will be primarily unpaid and potentially unnecessary since my position may not be renewed in subsequent years.
  • going public“: This can be as unstructured as talking to colleagues within the faculty or as formal as conference presentations and academic publication. I’ve done the first two, but the daunting task of searching for potential publications, writing about my collected reflections, then submitting this to a peer reviewed journal for editing and feedback, is not something I’ve considered. I blog about some of my work, but not most of my teaching or learning experiences. I’ve co-authored a few pieces. I’ve gone through the peer review process. The toughest question I ask myself here is ‘what have I got to say that anyone would want to read’? I’ll need to shift this question to ‘what can I write that others may need to know’?

Lots more to think about in this SoTL work – there’s no answer yet …. and there may never be one!

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