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Think Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)…

Greetings Summer Institute ’09 (and ’06) Faculty,

I have said this to a few of you specifically but would like to underline it more generally.  Each of you are working to apply the IF method within a variety of different settings.  Some of those settings serves first-generation, immigrant, and/or non-traditional-aged students.  Others of you are exploring how to create a Capstone course that really allows students to demonstrate their mastery of their subject area.  Still others are trying to figure out how to teach a student-centered, interactive course across classes that are at different corners of the country.  The things you are doing would be of interest to a broader audience of teachers.

I would strongly encourage all of you to keep careful notes on your course and how it’s going, including perhaps on how each student is progressing over the course of the semester.  Save evaluation rubrics (make a copy for your file).  Use a pre and post test in which you get them to think about their goals and how well they’ve met them through your course (much of this data is also available for your class as a whole via the online survey).  It would be prudent, as well, to ask students to sign an agreement regarding the possibility that you might publish something based upon your work with this class.  Explain that neither their names nor any other details that could potentially identify them as individuals would be used, as well as why such a paper would be useful.  Most students will likely agree to sign on, and this should stave off any concerns that might arise with regard to the use of human subjects (though, if you are more seriously thinking of publishing a paper based on your course, you may just want to approach your IRB now; usually, SoTL projects that are observational rather than experimental can be processed under expedited review guidelines).

It’s often very hard to think about the actual article you might write during the course of the semester.  However, if you keep notes and do a few things to collect some other data (such as using rubrics and/or pre- and post-tests), you could be in a good position to write an interesting and compelling article during the summer or over some other break period.  You might consider writing a traditional journal article for one of the many SoTL journals (I have a list of these and would be happy to post this on the blog if there is an interest– just let me know).  Alternatively, you might explore writing a white paper with IF.  Some of you might consider doing a joint paper on a topic that is illustrated in an interesting way by the experiences of using IF at multiple campuses.

I have done a lot of work framing the “basics” of the IF classroom in journal format and have collected a growing list of references that locate our method within broader pedagogical approaches.  I am happy to share these– and to just serve as a sounding board for exploring an idea you might have for an article or a white paper.  If anyone is thinking of proposing a white paper or even a research project to IF, I would also be happy to post some guidelines as to how you might best go about doing this (i.e., what the IDC would want to see so as to assess your idea).