22 SES 04 C, Academic Work and Professional Development
Parallel Paper Session
Boyer (1990) conceptualized academic work as having “four separate, yet overlapping, functions” (p. 16): the scholarships of discovery, integration, application and teaching. The first three functions are consistent with the commonly held idea of doing research in one's field (discovery), understanding it in a larger intellectual context (integration) and applying it to problems that matter (application). Boyer argued that the scholarship of teaching should not be separate from these three functions. In other words, scholarly teaching should be founded on an understanding of knowledge development in one’s discipline, knowledge of broader pedagogical principles and practices and the use of systematic inquiry into student learning. Boyer’s notion of the scholarship of teaching (SoTL) has been the catalyst for many institutions, in many countries, to develop initiatives to foster SoTL amongst academic staff (Chalmers, 2011; Hutching et al, 2002). So too has the literature relevant to SoTL grown in size and international authorship with contributions providing further definition (e.g., Kreber, 2002) and models for practice (e.g., Connolly et al, 2007; Healey, 2002; Trigwell et al, 2000).
Policy efforts to promote teaching and learning tend to work at the level of the individual or the institution, with little connection between levels, thus inhibiting change, as Trowler, Fanghanel, and Wareham (2005) have noted in the UK context. Reflective of this situation, evaluations of initiatives to foster and support SoTL tend to focus either on the individual academic (Chalmers, 2011; Kember 2002) or on the departmental/institutional level (Gray et al, 2007; Waterman et al, 2010). What is lacking is a comprehensive assessment across multiple levels of an institution, making it possible to better understand impact more holistically and conclusively. There is also a lack of consistency in points of assessment used in different studies, making it difficult to compare studies and to derive clear ‘next steps’ in the promotion of SoTL.
This paper is grounded in the implementation of a multi-level assessment framework to evaluate the impact of a program designed to support academic staff in systematically investigating questions about teaching and learning, and to promote conversations and collaborations about teaching across the university, as supported by small ($3K or less) and larger ($10K or less) grants. The program, at Simon Fraser University a mid-sized university located in Vancouver, Canada, is one aspect of a broader institutional process to rethink how best to support and enhance teaching and learning.
In this program, academic staff identify questions they wish to investigate. Questions are focused on student learning, and findings are used to revise or redesign teaching practice. Findings are shared with the purpose of informing the teaching practice of others, and promoting further SoTL work. Experienced educational researchers work with staff to develop project proposals, addressing the critique that SoTL often results in educational research of poor quality, as staff trained in research methodologies suited to their disciplines often are less knowledgeable about, and less experienced with, methods suited to researching teaching and learning (Colet, McAlpine, Fanghanel, & Weston (in press); Gray et al, 2007).
Boyer, E. (1990). Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. Princeton, NJ: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Chalmers, D. (2011). Progress and challenges to the recognition and reward of the scholarship of teaching in higher education. Higher Education Research & Development, 30(1), 25-38. Connolly, M., Bouwma-Gearhart, J., & Clifford, M., (2007). The birth of a notion: The windfalls and pitfalls of tailoring a SoTL-like concept to scientists, mathematicians, and engineers. Innovative Higher Education, 32(1), 19-34. Gray, K., Chang, R., & Radloff, A. (2007). Enhancing the scholarship of teaching and learning: Evaluation of a scheme to improve teaching and learning through action research. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 19(1), 21-32. Kember, D. (2002). Long-term outcomes of educational action research projects. Educational Action Research, 10(1), 83-104. Kreber, C. (2002). Controversy and consensus on the scholarship of teaching. Studies in Higher Education, 27(2), 151-67. Maki, P. (2010). Assessing for Learning: Building a Sustainable Commitment across the University. Sterling, Virginia: Stylus. Norton, L. (2009). Action Research in Teaching and Learning. A Practical Guide to Conducting Pedagogical Research in Universities. Abingdon, UK: Routledge. Rege Colet, N., McAlpine, L., Fanghanel, J., & Weston, C. (in press). La recherche liée à l’enseignement au supérieur et la formalisation des pratiques enseignantes : le concept du de SoTL. N° 65 revue Recherche et Formation. Trowler, P., Fanghanel, J., & Wareham, T. (2005). Freeing the chi of change: the Higher Education Academy and enhancing teaching and learning in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 30(4), 427-444. Waterman, M., Weber, J., Pracht, C., Conway, K., Kunz, D., Evans, B. (2010). Preparing scholars of teaching and learning using a model of collaborative peer consulting and action research. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 22(2), 140-151.
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