Building your SoTL Profile as an educational developer

In November we ran an online workshop for SEDA and the educational development community. The two hour session supported attendees to plan practical steps they could take to develop their Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) profile. It was great to see both experienced and new educational developers come together. Wherever you are on your SoTL journey the message was clear that there can always be more to learn if you want to extend the reach and impact of your work. In the session, we explored what SoTL is and what SoTL isn’t, we looked at the opportunities and challenges in engaging with SoTL in the diverse roles and institutions that attendees came from. Attendees included academics looking to develop their SoTL profile as part of a developing claim for teaching recognition. However most were educational developers thinking about both their own SoTL profile and how they could work with teaching staff, those studying for a PGCerts and learning about SoTL in other contexts, to develop their approaches to scholarship.

Central to the online workshop were three resources:

  1. We structured the whole session using the coaching GROW model that encourages the definition of one’s Goal(s) before exploring the Reality of a situation, the Opportunities available to reach the proposed goal(s) and ends a cycle when the Way forward has been decided and committed to. It worked well with attendees leaving the session with an action plan and next steps for building their SoTL profile. These included developing new educational development projects and inquiry areas, seeking funding, submitting an article to a peer reviewed journal, organising a university-wide community of practice and developing or extending collaborations to reach their goals.
  2. We used the Kern et al (2015) Dimensions of Activities Related to Teaching (DART) model. The model was published in the same year as we met on a collaborative project to define and support sector -wide SoTL commissioned by the Higher Education Academy (now Advance HE). At that time, 25 years on from Boyer’s 1990 work, definitions of SoTL were elusive (as they still are) but models and debates on key characteristics or features of SoTL were commonplace. We asked our attendees to map their SoTL activities on the two dimensions of the DART model, public to private, and informal to systematic. We then challenged them to consider and share what they’d like to change about their current profile.
  3. During the online workshop, we presented a table developed for and published in the SEDA Special, Doing a good job well – being recognized as an experienced, professional teacher in HE. In the table, SoTL activities are described in relation to their reach – at the micro, meso and macro level. These are described as departmental, institutional and national/international respectively. What becomes clear is that any particular SoTL activity, for example presenting your SoTL research to an audience, can be delivered with different reach. For many of our attendees, there was an interest in extending that, as well as the (more difficult to measure) impact of their SoTL work.

So what were the key take-aways from running this session for our attendees and for us as presenters? The importance of making time for SoTL and how ‘doing’ SoTL can be different and variously supported for those in different roles and institutions. Attendees saw the value in the resources we’d shared, not only for themselves, but for others in teaching roles in their universities. We came away excited. SoTL is still new territory for many educational developers and the teaching staff we support. There is room for good conversations and  action-oriented facilitation to make SoTL at the heart of educational development and our work supporting teaching in our universities.

Thank you SEDA for the invitation, and, if you’re reading this and would like us to come and run this workshop for you, do please get in touch with us!


Jackie Potter, Oxford Centre for Staff Learning and Development, Oxford Brookes University, and Jane Pritchard, Centre for Teaching and Learning, University of Oxford

References

Kern, B. Mettetal, G. Dixson, M. and R.K. Morgan (2015) The Role of SoTL in the Academy: Upon the 25th Anniversary of Boyer’s Scholarship Reconsidered. Journal of the Scholarship for Teaching and Learning, 15: 3, 1–14. doi: 10.14434/josotl.v15i3.13623

Pritchard, J., Wisker, G. and Potter, J.A. (2018). Engaging in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning as part of Continuing Professional Development. In, Potter, J.A. and Turner, R. (Eds.) Doing a good job well – being recognised as an experienced, professional teacher in HE. SEDA Special 41. Staff and Educational Development Association. London: SEDA.

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