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ISSOTL Fellows 2020 Spotlight – Hasitha Mahabaduge

Hasitha Mahabaduge
Assistant Professor of Physics
Georgia College and State University
ISSOTL Region — US

What drew you to SoTL? Before I joined Georgia College and State University (GC) as an assistant professor of Physics in Spring 2016, I worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden Colorado. During that time, I participated in a five-day workshop, “Summer Teaching-as-Research Institute for Post-docs in Engineering,” held at the University of Colorado Boulder. The central theme of the workshop was “Teaching-as-Research: systematic and reflective use of research methods to develop and implement teaching practices that advance the learning experiences and outcomes of students and teachers.” This concept resonated with me and informed how I approach teaching at GC. Since my first semester at GC, I have worked closely with GC Center for Teaching and Learning, and participated in the center’s SoTL program in Fall 2016 to further develop my work with this teaching model. Also, in Fall 2016, I was selected as one of the ten 2017-2018 University System of Georgia SoTL Fellows. My SoTL activities flourished with help from this Fellowship program’s very knowledgeable co-directors, mentors, and most importantly, my caring and dependable cohort colleagues.

What does being an ISSOTL Fellow mean to you? I was elated to learn that I have been named an ISSOTL Fellow as it was one of the most cherished achievements in my career as an educator and as a researcher. However, interactions with my ISSOTL Fellow colleagues made me realize that receiving one of the highest recognitions in the field is not the finish line but just the beginning of another exciting journey. Being part of the ISSOTL Fellows program helps me to expand my SoTL research across the globe. As an ISSOTL Fellow I can make a significant impact in my institution, in the State of Georgia and nationally in terms of advocacy for SoTL. Being part of the ISSOTL Fellows program will help me further to continue my SoTL journey in the pursuit of knowledge creation and knowledge sharing to make an impact across borders.

What advice would you give to ISSOTL members looking to better engage others in SoTL? First and foremost, we need to live by example. What I mean by saying that is, it is important to demonstrate the impact of SoTL to others, especially to those who may not even recognize SoTL as a form of scholarship. One way of doing that is to share with them how you would apply research methods you use in your own disciplinary research in SoTL and how such research methods and significant results lead to better engaged or performing students.

As I mentioned earlier, my SoTL journey started with attending a program hosted by my institution. ISSOTL members looking to better engage others in SoTL can do something similar either within their institutions or within their respective regions. Most importantly, such efforts do not need to be individual efforts but we all can support such events as the ISSOTL community. I believe we have a unique opportunity right now (amidst the pandemic) to facilitate such events as all most all of us are more accustomed to virtual environments. Therefore, a practical advice I want to share is to organize local SoTL events and invite someone to help/facilitate preferably from a different region or a discipline. Most likely the invited facilitator will bring a different perspective to the event that might help to engage others in SoTL.

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