Advice on introducing SoTL into an institutional culture?

I just received a question from someone at a small, liberal ed institution who is designing their first one-day workshop to introduce SoTL to their institution.  They are looking for advice for conducting a needs/belief assessment at the beginning and end of the workshop, and a few months out.  

Below, you will see what I suggested, and then please add your comments and suggestions  in the comments section below:

Thanks for your message and – how exciting! I think it is great you are planning to collect data right from the outset! We conducted a survey and did interviews here at Mount Royal last year but that was after our program had been running for 5 years (so we asked more about what the impact has been and less about needs analysis) and unfortunately we hadn’t collected any data before that. Depending on what you want to know, here is one survey tool you might find useful (designed for math and science but could be modified for other disciplines as well):

Wieman and Gilbert (2014) The Teaching Practices Inventory: A New Tool for Characterizing College and University Teaching in Mathematics and Science.

You also may want to try connecting with others who been thinking about similar questions; see this post on the SoTL Canada blog.

And finally, a couple of other things for you to think about:

  • depending on your faculty members’ research experience and disciplines, they will likely need more than one day of support. Have you thought about what you will do after this first day? We have found a Community of Practice model to work well at MRU both for supporting people developing and conducting a project, as well as for building community and helping folks make connections across disciplines.
  • We have found that helping people develop a research question (and/or “workshop a project”) to be the stage often requiring the most support. Often people start with a “I just want to know if ____ is working” kind of a question and they sometimes have trouble articulating just what kind of learning they are interested in studying. Providing some theoretical support here might be useful or perhaps curating a set of exemplar papers with a variety of both methodological and theoretical perspectives, or starting a journal club.
  • In terms of creating an institutional culture, I think you would want to try to be intentional about building a network of supporters across your institution at the department, faculty and admin level, and try to get some senior faculty members involved if possible.
  • I am curating some resources for new MRU scholars on our pages – feel free to have a look to see if any of these might be useful and let me know if you’d like to discuss further.

Also, when I was on our HREB, we developed this ethics guidance document for scholars which you might find useful.

Good luck and let us know how it goes!!

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One Response to Advice on introducing SoTL into an institutional culture?

  1. Cora McCloy says:

    In line with Janice’s comment regarding intentionally building institutional networks, you may find the following article useful for an overview of this area: Andrea Williams, Theresa Beery, Helen Dalton, James McKinnon, Karen Strickland, Jessica Pace, & Gary Poole. (2013). The Power of Social Networks: A Model for Weaving the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning into Institutional Culture.Teaching and Learning Inquiry: The ISSOTL Journal, 1(2), 49-62.

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