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ISSOTL 2020 Fellows Spotlight – Jane Pritchard

Dr. Jane Pritchard, NTF, SFHEA
Head of Educational Development
University of Oxford
United Kingdom

What drew you to SoTL? I first encountered SoTL when working at the University of Glasgow in 2004. We were looking at how to support academic staff on a teaching and scholarship career pathway and that required to unpack what scholarship was/is and how it could be demonstrated and recognised by the institution. I then started reading and reading and listening and together with a great colleague (sadly is no longer with us) Dr Jane MacKenzie, we dived in. As an Educational Developer my role over the years has been too create spaces and opportunities that enable teachers to enact excellent teaching and assessments that may sometimes not be instantly liked/satisfying by all learners, but bring about excellent learning and learners. However,  it is absolutely key that our teaching and assessments practices are underpinned by evidence-based educational practices. By working with teachers and all our colleagues that support students learning, we can build on and contribute to an evidence-based teaching practice where we can then justifiably ask our learners (and our teachers) to step outside the familiar and show how through their teaching and assessments they give learners the opportunities to embrace the curiosities and intrigues of the academic disciplines. The teacher may need to be courageous to teach and assess in ways different to their own experiences and our learners may need to be courageous to embrace new forms of learning from past (often successful) learner experiences and strategies.  SoTL for me provides the foundations for teachers to be courageous in how we teach and assess and working in partnership with students to enable successful academically courageous learners.  

What does being an ISSOTL Fellow mean to you? I was truly shocked to become an ISSoTL fellow and feel privileged to call myself one. It has given me an opportunity to meet with other fellows across the globe and look to the future of SoTL as it appears part of more institutional narratives about reward and recognition for staff passionate about higher education teaching and learning.

What advice would you give to ISSOTL members looking to better engage others in SoTL? Allow colleagues to build their confidence with approaches to enquiring into different aspects of teaching and learning. Many colleagues are experts in their discipline based research and so finding their feet in scholarship can feel like needing to put the stabilisers back on the bike they have been riding for many years – SoTL is just a different bike. Encourage colleagues to read, and read widely around HE teaching and learning, across disciplines and approaches using different methods to what they are used to. For me, no one gets ‘home’ advantage with SoTL, no one discipline is better than another at ‘it’ and ensuring all stay open to learning from across disciplines and encourage them to spend more time than they want on writing a good research question and a manageable one, not several PhDs worth in one small project.

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