Each year we tackle one major project to improve the SoTL program at IUB. This year, we’ve been working to compile the history of the SoTL in an effort to tell the program’s story. Through this work, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing key pioneers in the field and hearing their lived experiences. I’ve holistically examined program records and seen the work of these scholars evolve through their career. I’ve also had the opportunity to reflect on how the IUB SoTL program fits into the larger SoTL movement.
Did you know the International Society of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) has roots to the Bloomington campus? Or that 134 scholars have given 162 sessions as part of the SoTL speaker’s series since the 1999-2000 academic year? Did you know that many SoTL experts credit the work from our program for putting them on the path to SoTL? Did you know SoTL is one of the pathways to the new rank ofTeaching Professor?
In a recent blog post, Jennifer Friberg discusses the importance of reflection in “telling the whole story of SoTL, teaching, and learning.” It is reflection that allows us to learn from failure and imperfect attempts. Reflecting on a pedagogical failure is what begins to move us into the realm of scholar of teaching and learning. As Randy Bass wrote in his 1999 article, The Scholarship of Teaching: What’s the Problem?:
In scholarship and research, having a “problem” is at the heart of the investigative process; it is the compound of the generative questions around which all creative and productive activity revolves. But in one’s teaching, a “problem” is something you don’t want to have, and if you have one, you probably want to fix it. Asking a colleague about a problem in his or her research is an invitation; asking about a problem in one’s teaching would probably seem like an accusation. Changing the status of the problem in teaching from terminal remediation to ongoing investigation is precisely what the movement for a scholarship of teaching is all about.
This is one of the characteristics of SoTL that I love the most; it’s done by teachers of a discipline who identified a “problem” in their natural environment and systematically investigated how to “fix it,” rather than researchers in a controlled lab environment. This means that when we want to know how to help students view history as intricate stories rather than a series of dates and names, a historian tackles the question in a personal way. When we want to know how to increase accessibility of STEM education to under-represented students, STEM instructors tackle the question together. This is in the weeds, messy, reflective and iterative work that lead to a young discipline, epistemology, or movement as it was once referred to.
Join us on March 13 for reception celebrating 20 years of SoTL at IUB. Come learn about the individuals and milestones that have been instrumental in not just SoTL at IU, but SoTL internationally. This is also a great opportunity for those who are interested in getting starting in SoTL to connect with experts and resources on campus.