From the ISSOTL Advocacy Committee
Resources for Promoting SoTL
This page will provide scholars with the tools they need to promote the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) to campus administrators, fellow scholars, and members of the general public.
What is SoTL?
The scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) involves bringing a scholarly lens to teaching in higher education: to approach teaching practice with the same curiosity, inquiry and rigor that scholars bring to their research, and to publicly share the results of that inquiry. Generally, SoTL involves:
- Asking meaningful questions about student learning and how it can be improved;
- Conducting research into teaching and learning that is systematic, iterative, analytical, evidence-based, and uses appropriate research methods; and
- Sharing the results of that inquiry to benefit colleagues and contribute to the growing body of knowledge around teaching and learning.
A boilerplate is journalism lingo for a short summary description of something, in this case, for SoTL. Boilerplates are placed at the end of a document, somewhat like a footnote. They provide basic, crucial information for readers who might not be familiar the entity associated with the contents of the rest of the document. They can also serve as a short, concise way to explain SoTL at the start of a presentation or face-to-face meeting. The SoTL description above is thorough, but is longer than a typical boilerplate statement.
Characteristics of an Effective Boilerplate
- Brief description of the most salient characteristics
- Tailored – Succinct amount of information aimed at a defined audience or clientele
- “Evergreen” statement of purpose at the core, i.e. this part will work across all audiences, and then tweaks are made to tailor it
- Jargon free
Coming soon: brief descriptions of SoTL for different audiences
Explore examples of successful efforts of educating and engaging others in SoTL to inspire your own efforts. The Casebook is divided into three sections, based on target audience:
- Appealing to Administrators
- Appealing to Fellow Scholars
- Appealing to the General Public
Working with the Media
Communication guides for finding and writing for mainstream publications, and a list of press contacts including newspapers, education media, magazines, television, radio and wires/syndicates.
- “5 Lessons on Writing for the Public” from The Chronicle of Higher Education — This article gives academics who have been trained to write in professional jargon for their peers tips on how to write for a variety of public audiences. In it, she gives advice on how to research, approach, and write for mainstream publications.
- The OpEd Project‘s mission is to increase the range of voices and quality of ideas we hear in the world. Working with top universities, foundations, think tanks, nonprofits, corporations and community organizations, this group scouts and trains under-represented experts to take thought leadership positions in their fields; they connect these new experts with their national network of high-level media mentors; and they vet and channel the best new experts and ideas directly to media gatekeepers who need them, across all platforms.
Advice from SoTL Activists
Advocating for SoTL usually involve gaining familiarity with the specific purposes and concerns of the community one is trying to reach. However, the following advice is generally applicable:
- Start where people are – including yourself.
- Listen, so that you can identify what people are about and build on that.
- Build connections to link individuals and to create networks.
- Share ownership to create partnerships and foster a sense of shared responsibility.
- Have a vision and pursue it.
- Be persistent and patient. Creating change takes time.
- Think big and think systematically.
- Don’t mourn. Organize.