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Accounts of Advocacy and Outreach for SOTL

Please share your short account of advocacy and outreach for SOTL in this forum. 

We hope these examples will inspire others’ ambition and imagination as well as provide resources for those who wish to do their own advocacy and outreach for SOTL. In addition, the collection will help ISSOTL to identify areas of activity and devise ways of supporting members. 

You might consider accounts that include your work with SOTL in such areas as:

  • pedagogical matters
  • curricular matters
  • student success
  • disciplinary and professional associations
  • foundations and funding agencies
  • government boards and agencies
  • the media
  • student groups

  Please include in your submission your contact information and links to more detail, if available.
SOTL in Visual Arts: A Portrait of Creativity in Action

by Diana Gregory

Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw, GA, USA

Our scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) work began as a result of a self-study and outside analysis during our accreditation review and then moved beyond the classroom to include curriculum design/reform and assessment (McKinney, 2012). Primarily, the focus of our SoTL project addressed a need to improve student learning outcomes (SLO) around a perceived lack of creativity seen as imagination and originality in student art work in the BFA and BS Art Education degrees. Three questions were a driving force: what are we teaching and why; what do students need to be successful beyond the university; and how do we become accountable?

We used a two-prong approach: first, a faculty learning community studied the meanings and processes of creativity and their implications for teaching and learning, while administration simultaneously initiated a new portfolio review process. The portfolio review was developed over a two year period and resulted in curricular changes that: improved retention and progress to graduation; created philosophical unity among divergent faculty; and shifted the focus from issues of authority and power to a concern for productive student experiences and actual student learning outcomes.  The SLOs were also developed to align with the institution’s newly defined university-wide competencies, including skills and dispositions within the field, effective communication, and creative problem solving. The Association of American Colleges & University’s (AAC&U) VALUE rubrics for creativity, oral and written communication, and critical thinking served as guidelines for the development of rubrics piloted in fall 2012.  Evaluation of early data demonstrated the need (very early in the learning process) for a specific course addressing creative problem solving and conceptual inventiveness, which has resulted in curricular revisions to the foundational courses in the degree programs.  

As our work progressed we moved to make our results public in an effort to reduce the sense of isolation that limited our work. We wanted to “paint a portrait” that revealed the ways in which the SoTL process directly affected the improvement of SLOs after the faculty examined the standards specified through the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and the AAC&U VALUE rubrics. We know that artistic creativity is not ineffable; it can be measured and evaluated like any other ability. Our work has shown us that SoTL principles are applicable even in disciplines that might seem inhospitable and that SoTL can provided a framework for accomplishing a wide variety of (sometimes expected) goals.


Association of American Colleges & Universities VALUE Rubrics. Online at

McKinney, K. (2012). “Making a Difference: Applying SoTL to Enhance Learning.” The Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 12 (1): 1-7.

JenFriberg's picture
SoTL in Communication Sciences and Disorders

Adapted from a blog post dated 12/1/14:

Over the last several years, I have been one of many vocal advocates for SoTL in my professional discipline of speech-language pathology. Through this process, I’ve had the good fortune to meet and collaborate with a wonderful group of individuals interested in teaching and learning. While we have made progress with our pro-SoTL efforts, I have learned firsthand that change can be a slow moving endeavor, particularly in a profession governed by a variety of stakeholders representing several professional organizations and interests. That said, I have also learned that patience with the process can yield encouraging outcomes.

Over the course of the last year, I have been involved in the drafting of my profession’s first ever position paper on SoTL as a meritorious form of scholarship. Happily, recent conversations at my annual research conference indicated that this position paper has had influence in increasing the stature and acceptance of SoTL in my discipline.That said, more work is needed to build upon the foundation the adoption of this position paper has provided for my discipline, for certain. In particular, we need to work to establish a regular and recognized home for disciplinary SoTL work in one of the peer reviewed journals for my profession. Several colleagues and I are working on an initiative to establish a journal specific to SoTL in our discipline at the current time.
A blog

Sherry Linkon, Ph.D.

Professor of English

Director of Writing Curriculum Initiatives

Georgetown University


I edit a weekly blog, Working-Class Perspectives, that regularly comments on education and many other themes. The blog reaches several thousand readers a week, including both academics and non-academics such as journalists, community activists, students, and others. In my own writing for the blog, I have drawn on educational research to comment on current issues such as:

1.Redefining Grit: New Visions of Working-Class Culture, drawing on Duckworth's claims about grit in K-12 education.

2.The Challenge of MOOCs: Technology, Costs, and Class, commenting on claims that MOOCs would make high quality education more widely available.

3.College Choice and the Success of Working-Class Students, responding to Crossing the Finish Line, a higher ed study that found that working-class students perform better if they attend more elite schools.
Partnering with Students on Policy

Katarina Mårtensson, Ph.D.

Academic developer
Centre for Educational Development
Lund University, Sweden
Co-editor, International Journal for Academic Development (IJAD)
Vice-President Europe, International Society for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL)


In Sweden, educational development has focused on SOTL for almost a decade. In many institutions, SOTL forms the basis of bottom-up-approaches to support professional development. However, SOTL is slower in becoming embedded in institutional structures, policies, and cultures. In 2013, the Swedish National Union of Students (SFS) released a report, titled "Improving Teaching and Learning in Swedish Higher Education: A Student Centred Perspective" (the report was originally written in Swedish). The report was written with a scholarly approach, underpinned with research on teaching and learning, and ended with a number of demands from the students on the Swedish government as well as on Swedish higher education institutions.


These demands included, for instance:

1.Developing a national strategy for improving teaching in higher education.

2.Undertaking a serious, concerted national research and development strategy for improvement of higher education teaching.

3.Ensuring that the education received at higher education would be based on a scientific approach to teaching, to allocate specific time of teachers' professional service for scholarship of teaching and learning and educational development.


The report was later translated into English (as it was presented at the ISSOTL-conference as a Swedish case of advocacy and outreach). Since Swedish does not have an expression for scholarship of teaching and learning, this is not explicitly mentioned, but the meaning is in the report. The report received a lot of attention in newspapers, TV and radio. The chair of the student union was repeatedly interviewed and received significant media exposure. The Minister of Education and other high ranked politicians were also interviewed. The student union arranged a one-day conference in Stockholm to coincide with the release of the report. The conference included a panel-debate with politicians, university chairs, educational developers, and academic teachers in order to debate and discuss the contents of the report.
A dialogue forum and academy


Carmen Werder, Ph.D.

Director, Learning Commons/Teaching-Learning Academy & Writing Instruction Support

Western Washington University Libraries

Affiliated Faculty, Communication

Western Washington University


The Teaching-Learning Academy (TLA) at Western Washington University is a dialogue forum to study and enhance our campus learning environment. Not only does it include students, faculty, and staff from across campus – we deliberately invite participants from the surrounding community and do our best to sustain their participation over time. Out of 75-100 participants every quarter in TLA, 6-10 regular participants come from the community. We also sponsor an annual academy awards reception in which we recognize individuals and groups both from campus and off-campus that have contributed to our study that year. Many of the individuals and groups recognized come from off campus. As a result of these efforts, people from our neighboring community become some of the best ambassadors and advocates of SoTL work on campus.
Research-focused website

Lauren Scharff, Ph.D.

Director for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Professor of Psychology

Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership

United States Air Force Academy


I am co-creator and a regular contributor to the Improve with Metacognition website ( This website has a growing following, and it includes a regular blog (with posts often connecting to SoTL research), resources (many of which are SoTL based), and provides a means to promote collaborations. One of the current collaborations is a 5-institution SoTL project on the topic of metacognitive instruction. This site helps bring SoTL activities related to the topic of metacognition to broader awareness (although the majority of current followers are academics).


I am also set to participate in a STEM education panel at the Global MindED conference in Denver ( This conference brings together a broad audience (academics, public officials and community leaders, students, others interested in education at all levels, including those involved in education policies around the world). One of the explicit points I will be making during my panel presentation is the following:


"Overall, SoTL efforts regarding many aspects of teaching and learning are ongoing at many institutions, but unfortunately, awareness of and application of this important research often is not included in policy discussions within and outside of the academy. More research on incorporating social connections within STEM (especially lower-level STEM courses) should be conducted and become part of our discussions."


I hope that this point will lead to further discussion and increased awareness of SoTL and how it might support more informed educational policies.
Complementary initiatives

Kathleen McKinney

Professor of Sociology, Emeritus

Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL, Emeritus

Illinois State University


There are three recent examples of advocacy/outreach I would like to share:


1.Our information/education session for Chairs, Directors, Deans - We submitted a proposal to present a session about SoTL for campus administrators at our annual all day teaching-learning conference put on by our teaching center and held at our the nearby Marriott (fac present tl practices and SoTL at this event and there is an outside keynote speaker). The session was accepted. We then specifically invited and advertised the session via email (and asked our Provost to do so as well) to all Chairs, Directors, Deans (and/or members of unit faculty personnel committees). We created a power point presentation that focused on def, support, uses of SoTL at dept and college levels then filled in details and examples verbally (see attached). I believe we had about 18 administrators attend.


2.Our SoTL Advocate blog - Early last fall we created a blog for both ISU fac/staff/students and those outside ISU. When we post to the blog (usually every Monday), I also send out a tweet from @ISU_SoTL. The blog ( highlights SoTL and encourages discussion within the SoTL community on various topics of interest to those working in SoTL at ISU and beyond. "To date, The SoTL Advocate has published original opinion papers about the field of SoTL, shared SoTL resources and tips, and informed readers about SoTL workshops, conference, and experiences." Along with information and resources of use to anyone doing SoTL, we also post blog entries about upcoming opportunities (e.g., small SoTL grants, SoTL Univ award) or important recent events (e.g., SoTL workshops or celebrations) related to SoTL on campus for ISU folks.


3.Our "Walk the Talk" SoTL Application Beyond the Individual Classroom contest at ISU - This spring we held a contest for the 'best' example of an application of SoTL literature and/or original SoTL work/results to improve, change, create re teaching and learning... on campus but at a broader level than the individual classroom. We advertised the contest in many ways and created a standard set of questions each applicant team had to answer and submit as their entry. We (a 3 person selection team -fac who do SoTL) selected a winning team ($2,000 and a plaque) and an honorable mention team ($500 and a plaque). We then announced and shared the winners and projects via our web page, blog, twitter account, internal teaching list serv... Finally, we hosted a celebration event for the winning and honorable mention teams with food, plaque presentations and brief explanation of the projects by the teams. We invited campus members interested in SoTL and the Pres and Provost (both of whom attended!).
Panel Symposium

Trent Maurer, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Child and Family Development

Georgia Southern University


In the Fall of 2014, a group of four SoTL active faculty at Georgia Southern University were invited by the President of the Georgia Educational Research Association to deliver a panel symposium on SoTL at their annual conference (Maurer, Sturges, Arrington, & Lu, 2014).  This was an attempt to connect SoTL-active faculty at a major state university with education faculty at other state institutions and with K-12 educators and administrators in the state.  It also provided an excellent opportunity to advocate for the presence and value of SoTL in both education research and in the educational community more generally.  Further, as the two senior presenters were both from outside the education fields, it provided visibility and exposure for SoTL as an area of research both outside of education and that could be conducted in an interdisciplinary manner.


In addition to the outreach opportunities this provided, there was the unanticipated benefit that two of the faculty members subsequently revised and expanded the presentation into a standing room only session at the 2015 SoTL Commons Conference. 


A copy of the GERA presentation was submitted to the Proceedings of the conference and is available here




Maurer, T.W., Sturges, D., Arrington, N.M., & Lu, H. (2014, October).  The Scholarship of Teaching & Learning:  Who, what, when, where, why, and how?  Panel symposium presented at the 2014 Georgia Educational Research Association Conference, Savannah, GA.  Panel Chair:  Maurer, T.W.'s picture
educating the 'non-educated' about SOTL

I recently taught an Introduction to Educational Research Methods course as part of a professional development course for my institution.  One faculty member who wanted to take the course was getting resistance from her deans, because she had a ‘research methods’ course in grad school.  What course was that?  A LIVESTOCK MANAGEMENT research methods course.

My email to this individual (that could be shared with the Deans) was long winded, but hopefully convinced the Deans that you just can’t ‘do’ educational research on the fly.  (email below)  (P.S. - the Deans allowed this individual to take the educational research methods course! )  :)


Valerie Dean O'Loughlin, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Medical Sciences

Indiana University

Bloomington, IN  47405

(812) 855-7723 (voice)


From: O'Loughlin, Valerie D
Subject: RE: HAPS Course Inquiry


Dear Dr. XXXX,


Please share my email with your deans regarding my Introduction to Educational Research methods course, offered by HAPS-Institute.  I can wholeheartedly attest that the course you have listed is in no way similar to the educational research methods course I will be presenting.  (I’ve also attached a copy of the syllabus for their reference).


Educational research requires knowledge of how students learn, metacognition, developing clear research questions, being able to submit human subjects documentation to your Institutional review board (since your students are ‘human subjects’), and having a clear knowledge of previous educational research literature.  None of these topics would have been discussed in your livestock production and management class.    As livestock are not humans, I am sure you never discussed acquiring human subjects approval from an Institutional Review Board.  Knowing the background literature in various educational research topics (and how to effectively search this background literature) requires extensive study and practice.  An educational researcher must be able to effectively search the literature (so as to see what has been done previously, and to frame his/her research questions by building on past knowledge), and knowledge of how to do an effective search takes much practice.   Research methods in different disciplines vary – an individual who is trained as a historian can’t simply do physics research (without any preparation), simply because that individual may have taken a history research methods course.


Pedagogical research is performed by experts in a discipline who also want to assess the teaching and learning in that discipline.  These experts are subject matter specialists, but they may lack the training in pedagogical-specific research methods – that is where this course comes into play.  By gaining a basic understanding of some of the common educational research methods, you should be able to start the process of developing your own educational research projects in your classroom.


I encourage your deans to check out these following blogs and articles that have discussed the importance of pedagogical research, and how it is different from other research methods.  :


these three paragraphs summarize why it is so essential that teachers receive training in pedagogical research methods:


As with subject specific research, pedagogical research involves defining the research question in advance, thinking about the research design, analysing the data, determining the conclusions/implications and disseminating them. This is exactly how we approach our subject specific research, but less often how we approach our teaching.

Taking a more research oriented approach to teaching can have numerous benefits for the individual teacher; as a way to monitor and to reflect on the effect of their own teaching. But the most benefit is gained if the data is discussed, critiqued and shared more widely - perhaps with institutional colleagues, perhaps with others in the discipline at other institutions, at education oriented conferences, or even through publishing in recognised journals.

As teachers, it is our aim to deliver high quality teaching, and we benefit from the pedagogical research that others have done. Perhaps we should also consider contributing our own innovations, experiments and findings to that knowledge base, so that others may benefit from our findings.


There are multiple texts that explore discipline-based pedagogical research, and scientific research in education – hopefully these texts also will illustrate to your deans how pedagogical research is a field onto itself, and is worthy of study:



I hope my email sufficiently demonstrates the difference between your doctoral work and the field of educational research.  I hope your deans will support your decision to enroll in the HAPS-I course and begin your process in becoming well versed as an educational researcher.




Valerie O’Loughlin


Valerie Dean O'Loughlin, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Medical Sciences

Jordan Hall 010A

Indiana University

1001 East Third Street

Bloomington, IN  47405

(812) 855-7723 (voice)

(812) 855-4436 (fax)

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