Sunday, August 14, 2005

SoTL - def/comments SCE

The guidelines aren't out yet. They're supposed to be released in June. Best guess is that about a month after that, a full proposal (20 pages?) will be due.

A definition of SoTL: intentional, designed inquiry by faculty about their own teaching and their students' own learning, designed to a) improve T&L, b) help their colleagues' teaching as well. 'b' might come from communicating findings to other faculty or,more likely, from telling other faculty about how you did the study (the person who developed the 'muddy points' exercise helped not only him/herself through students' answers but also other faculty who began using the same method of inquiry in their own courses). The methods of SoTL can vary by discipline because faculty sometimes use some of their research expertise for inquiries into their teaching.

The concept comes from Ernie Boyer who convinced many people that 'research' was not a single type of enterprise (new discoveries in one's discipline). Instead he defined 3-4 types of scholarship by faculty, but the one that's had the greatest impact was the assertion that faculty in all disciplines ought to be doing their own kinds of educational research, focused on their own students, with the primary aim of helping their own students learn. (In contrast traditional educational research is primarily about more general kinds of discovery and contributions to the field of educational research.)

SoTL: has several components:

· Framing a question (what does the faculty member want to better understand

· Gathering relevant evidence (which may or may not involve some special methods, tools or designs)

· Analysis of that evidence

· Sharing of methods or findings with other faculty (locally or more widely)

"Gathering relevant evidence" may involve special methods (e.g., surveys, new kinds of tests such as the Force Concept Inventory in physics, or experimental designs). But sometimes the evidence has already been gathered through normal course activities (quizzes; online discussions). In the latter case, it's the question and the analysis that help make it SoTL. For example, in the story I've often told about Bob Gross and his use of Videoworks animations in teaching biological processes at Dartmouth in the 1980s, what made his activity SoTL was that a) he intentionally went back over tests from previous years to see whether his new methods had yielded higher scores on these particular topics, b) he then told other faculty what he had discovered about how animations could save time and improve learning in his courses.


Steve Ehrmann (

The TLT Group




From: Steve Gilbert

Sent: Thursday, June 08, 2006 7:53 AM

To: Steve Ehrmann

Subject: RE: PS re Ray Purdom and a FIPSE proposal

Have FIPSE guidelines appeared? due dates?

Ray is now an even bigger deal in NC TLT Collaborative and he is even more involved with TLTG OLI

Can I have a sentence about what a “consortium to foster the school. of t & l” might be about? I'm still trying to develop a more respectful attitude toward “the scholarship of t & l” and need help in that direction.



Steven W. Gilbert, President, TLT Group


From: Steve Ehrmann
Sent: Tuesday, June 06, 2006 9:11 AM
To: Steve Gilbert
Subject: PS re Ray Purdom and a FIPSE proposal

I'm working with Alton Banks (NC State) on a proposal for a NC-wide consortium to foster the scholarship of teaching and learning. I'm guessing this might be of interest to Ray. Have you ever talked with him about SOTL? If you think he'd be interested, or perhaps a potential leader in such a project, I'd be happy to mention it to Alton. I don't recall seeing Ray's name on Alton's list.


Stephen C. Ehrmann, Ph.D.
Director of the Flashlight Program for the Study and Improvement of Educational Uses of Technology
Vice President, The Teaching, Learning, and Technology Group

One Columbia Avenue
Takoma Park, MD 20912-4635.
301-270-8311, -8312 (v)

The TLT Group: <>
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