Supporting SoTL Development through Communities of Practice

Keywords: SoTL, communities of practice, scholarship, professional development, life sciences

Abstract

Increasingly, academics are engaging with the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). However, within United Kingdom higher education, the definition of and activities that constitute SoTL remain open to debate. In this article, we explore SoTL through four career histories that give insight into how SoTL has developed and played a role in the careers of four life sciences-based, teaching-focused academics in UK universities at different points in their careers. The recurring themes in the career histories include collaboration; professional development; sharing and dissemination; and funding. The career histories also highlight aspects of and the importance of communities of practice. We reflect on the role of communities of practice in supporting SoTL and discuss how communities of practice external to one’s home institution can play a role in developing SoTL and teaching practice. Internationally there is a growing focus on SoTL, and although the four career histories presented here are authored by academics based in UK institutions and focused on the UK context, the themes they reveal are widely applicable.

Author Biographies

Anne M. Tierney, Heriot-Watt University

Anne M. Tierney is an Assistant Professor in the Learning and Teaching Academy at Heriot-Watt University (GBR). Her interests are in SoTL and Communities of Practice.

Dorothy Aidulis, STEM Scotland

Dorothy Aidulis is the Founder and Director of STEM Scotland Ltd, a small company supporting skills development in science and education (www.stem-scotland.com). Dorothy is a former university lecturer and secondary science teacher, and is a member of the British Pharmacological Society and the Association for Science Education. (GBR).

Julian Park, University of Reading

Julian Park, a professor in the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development at the University of Reading (GBR), is a National Teaching Fellow with particular pedagogic interests in assessment and feedback, tech-enhanced learning, and fieldwork education.

Katherine Clark, University of Reading

Katherine Clark is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Reading (GBR). Her work focuses on teaching and learning and SoTL in the biological and agricultural sciences.

References

Andrews, Jane, and Robin Clark. 2011. “Peer Mentoring Works! How Peer Mentoring Enhances Student Success in Higher Education.” Birmingham: Aston University. https://research.aston.ac.uk/en/publications/peer-mentoring-works-how-peer-mentoring-enhances-student-success-.

Biggs, John. 1999. Teaching for Quality Learning at University. Buckingham: Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.

Boyer, Ernest L. 1990. Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. Princeton: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Braun, Virginia, and Victoria Clarke. 2006. “Using Thematic Analysis in Psychology.” Qualitative Research in Psychology 3, no. 2: 77–101. https://doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa.

Brew, Angela. 2003. “Teaching and Research: New Relationships and Their Implications for Inquiry-Based Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.” Higher Education Research & Development 22, no. 1: 3–18. https://doi.org/10.1080/0729436032000056571.

Cashmore, Annette, Chris Cane, and Robert Cane. 2013. “Rebalancing Promotion in the HE Sector: Is Teaching Excellence Being Rewarded?” York: Higher Education Academy. https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/rebalancing-promotion-he-sector-teaching-excellence-being-rewarded.

Chng, Huang Hoon, and Peter Looker. 2013. “On the Margins of SoTL Discourse: An Asian Perspective.” Teaching & Learning Inquiry 1, no. 1: 131–45. https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.1.1.131.

Cook-Sather, Alison, Catherine Bovill, and Peter Felten. 2014. Engaging Students as Partners in Learning and Teaching: A Guide for Faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Cotton, Dorothy R. E., Wendy Miller, and Pauline Kneale. 2017. “The Cinderella of Academia: Is Higher Education Pedagogic Research Undervalued in UK Research Assessment?” Studies in Higher Education 43, no. 9: 1625–36. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2016.1276549.

Cox, Milton D. 2004. “Introduction to Faculty Learning Communities.” New Directions for Teaching & Learning 2004, no. 97: 5–23. https://doi.org/10.1002/tl.129.

Cox, Milton D. 2013. “The Impact of Communities of Practice in Support of Early-Career Academics.” International Journal for Academic Development 18, no. 1: 18–30. https://doi.org/10.1080/1360144X.2011.599600.

Department for Education [UK]. 2017. “Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework Specification.” https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/teaching-excellence-and-student-outcomes-framework-specification.

Department of Education and Training [Australia]. 2016. “Higher Education Staff Numbers for 2016.” https://docs.education.gov.au/node/42371.

Fanghanel, Joëlle. 2013. “Going Public with Pedagogical Inquiries: SoTL as a Methodology for Faculty Professional Development.” Teaching & Learning Inquiry 1, no. 1: 59–70. https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.1.1.59.

Fanghanel, Joëlle, Jane Pritchard, Jacqueline Potter, and Gina Wisker. 2016. “Defining and Supporting the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL): A Sector-Wide Study.” York: Higher Education Academy. https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/assets.creode.advancehe-document-manager/documents/hea/private/literature_review_1568037331.pdf.

Felten, Peter. 2013. “Principles of Good Practice in SoTL.” Teaching & Learning Inquiry 1, no. 1: 121–25. https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.1.1.121.

Freestone, Nicholas. 2014. “From Bioscience to Pedagogy: A Transition in Progress.” Higher Education Academy. https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/assets.creode.advancehe-document-manager/documents/hea/private/bio-129-p_1568037088.pdf.

Gaebel, Michael, and Thérèse Zhang. 2018. Trends 2018: Learning and Teaching in the European Higher Education Area. Brussels: European University Association. https://eua.eu/downloads/publications/trends-2018-learning-and-teaching-in-the-european-higher-education-area.pdf.

Glassick, Charles E., Mary Taylor Huber, and Gene I. Maeroff. 1997. Scholarship Assessed: Evaluation of the Professoriate. Princeton: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Learning.

Higher Education Academy. 2018. “Higher Education Academy Fellowship.” https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/individuals/fellowship.

Healey, Mick. 2000. “Developing the Scholarship of Teaching in Higher Education: A Discipline-Based Approach.” Higher Education Research & Development 19, no. 2: 169–89. https://doi.org/10.1080/072943600445637.

Healey, Mick, Abbi Flint, and Kathy Harrington. 2014. Engagement through Partnership: Students as Partners in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. York: Higher Education Academy. https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/assets.creode.advancehe-document-manager/documents/hea/private/resources/engagement_through_partnership_1568036621.pdfr.

Healey, Mick, Beth Marquis, and Susan Vajoczki. 2013. “Exploring SoTL through International Collaborative Writing Groups.” Teaching & Learning Inquiry 1, no. 2: 3–8. https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.1.2.3.

Higher Education Statistics Authority [UK]. 2018. “Staff in Higher Education 2016/17.” https://www.hesa.ac.uk/data-and-analysis/publications/staff-2016-17.

Hubball, Harry, Anthony Clarke, and Gary Poole. 2010. “Ten-Year Reflections on Mentoring SoTL Research in a Research-Intensive University.” International Journal for Academic Development 15, no. 2: 117–29. https://doi.org/10.1080/13601441003737758.

Hubbard, Katharine E., Rachel Brown, Sam Deans, María Paz García, Mihai-Grigore Pruna, and Matthew J. Mason. 2017. “Undergraduate Students as Co-producers in the Creation of First-Year Practical Class Resources.” Higher Education Pedagogies 2, no. 1: 58–78. https://doi.org/10.1080/23752696.2017.1338529.

Hubbard, Katharine E., Sarah Gretton, Katherine Jones, and Lucy Tallents. 2015. “Challenges and Opportunities for Early-Career Teaching-Focused Academics in the Biosciences.” F1000Research 4, no. 76. https://doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.6227.2.

Hutchings, Pat. 2007. “The Elephant in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Room.” International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 1, no. 1: article 2. https://doi.org/10.20429/ijsotl.2007.010102.

Kelly, Niamh, Susan Nesbit, and Carolyn Oliver. 2012. “A Difficult Journey: Transitioning from STEM to SoTL.” International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 6, no. 1: Article 18. https://doi.org/10.20429/ijsotl.2012.060118.

Kent, Alexandra, Donna M. Berry, Kirsty Budds, Yvonne Skipper, and Helen L. Williams. 2017. “Promoting Writing amongst Peers: Establishing a Community of Writing Practice for Early Career Academics.” Higher Education Research & Development 36, no. 6: 1194–207. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2017.1300141.

Kreber, Carolin, and Heather Castleden. 2009. “Reflection on Teaching and Epistemological Structure: Reflective and Critically Reflective Processes in ‘Pure/Soft’ and ‘Pure/Hard’ Fields.” Higher Education 57: 509–31. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-008-9158-9.

Lawson, Duncan. 2013. “Pedagogic Research and Scholarship within the STEM Disciplines.” In Getting Started in Pedagogic Research within the STEM Disciplines, edited by Michael Grove and Tina Overton, 5-6. Birmingham: University of Birmingham STEM Education Centre.

MacKenzie, Jane, Sheena Bell, Jason Bohan, Andrea Brown, Joanne Burke, Barbara Cogdell, Susan Jamieson, Julie McAdam, Robert McKerlie, Lorna Morrow, Beth Paschke, Paul Rea, and Anne Tierney. 2010. “From Anxiety to Empowerment: A Learning Community of University Teachers.” Teaching in Higher Education 15, no. 3: 273–84. https://doi.org/10.1080/13562511003740825.

MacKenzie, Jane, and Annie Meyers. 2012. “International Collaboration in SoTL: Current Status and Future Direction.” International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 6, no. 1: Article 4. https://doi.org/10.20429/ijsotl.2012.060104.

Manarin, Karen, and Earle Abrahamson. 2016. “Troublesome Knowledge of SoTL.” International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 10, no. 2: Article 2. https://doi.org/10.20429/ijsotl.2016.100202.

Mårtensson, Katarina, Torgny Roxå, and Bjørn Stensaker. 2014. “From Quality Assurance to Quality Practices: An Investigation of Strong Microcultures in Teaching and Learning.” Studies in Higher Education 39, no. 4: 534–45. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2012.709493.

Mathany, Clarke, Katie M. Clow, and Erin D. Aspenlieder. 2017. “Exploring the Role of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in the Context of the Professional Identities of Faculty, Graduate Students, and Staff in Higher Education.” Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 8, no. 3: Article 10. https://doi.org/10.5206/cjsotl-rcacea.2017.3.10.

Meyer, Jan, and Ray Land. 2003. “Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge: Linkages to Ways of Thinking and Practising within the Disciplines.” Enhancing Teaching-Learning Environments in Undergraduate Courses Project, Occasional Report 4. http://www.etl.tla.ed.ac.uk/docs/ETLreport4.pdf.

Miller-Young, Janice, and Michelle Yeo. 2015. “Conceptualizing and Communicating SoTL: A Framework for the Field.” Teaching and Learning Inquiry 3, no. 2: 37–53. https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.3.2.37.

Oliver, Carolyn, Susan Nesbit, and Niamh Kelly. 2013. “Dissolving Dualisms: How Two Positivists Engaged with Non-positivist Qualitative Methodology.” International Journal of Qualitative Methods 12, no. 1: 180–94. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F160940691301200106.

Pearce, Nick, Martin Weller, Eileen Scanlon, and Melanie Ashleigh. 2012. “Digital Scholarship Considered: How New Technologies Could Transform Academic Work.” In Education 16, no. 1: 33–44. https://ineducation.ca/ineducation/article/view/44.

Schön, Donald A. 1983. The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. London: Temple Smith.

Schwartz, Steven. 2012. “Get Back in the Saddle.” Times Higher Education. http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/features/get-back-in-the-saddle/419463.article.

Svinicki, Marilla. 2012. “Who Is Entitled to Do SoTL?” International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 6, no. 2: Article 2. https://doi.org/10.20429/ijsotl.2012.060202.

Tierney, Anne. 2017. “Threshold Concepts in Academic Practice: Engagement with the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.” Practice and Evidence of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 12, no. 2: 165–84. http://www.pestlhe.org/index.php/pestlhe/issue/view/31.

Tremonte, Colleen M. 2011. “Window Shopping: Fashioning a Scholarship of Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning.” International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 5, no. 1: Article 26. https://doi.org/10.20429/ijsotl.2011.050126.

Trigwell, Keith, Elaine Martin, Joan Benjamin, and Michael Prosser. 2000. “Scholarship of Teaching: A Model.” Higher Education Research and Development 19, no. 2: 155–68. https://doi.org/10.1080/072943600445628.

Trigwell, Keith, and Suzanne Shale. 2004. “Student Learning and the Scholarship of University Teaching.” Studies in Higher Education 29, no. 4: 523–36. https://doi.org/10.1080/0307507042000236407.

Webb, Andrea S., and Anne M. Tierney. 2019. “Investigating Support for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: We Need SoTL Educational Leaders.” Innovations in Education and Teaching International. https://doi.org/10.1080/14703297.2019.1635905.

Wenger, Etienne. 1998. Communities of Practice; Learning, Meaning and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Williams, Andrea L., Roselynn Verwoord, Theresa A. Beery, Helen Dalton, James McKinnon, Karen Strickland, Jessica Pace, and Gary Poole. 2013. “The Power of Social Networks: A Model for Weaving the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning into Institutional Culture.” Teaching & Learning Inquiry 1, no. 2: 49–62. https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.1.2.49.

Published
2020-10-06
How to Cite
Tierney, Anne M., Dorothy Aidulis, Julian Park, and Katherine Clark. 2020. “Supporting SoTL Development through Communities of Practice”. Teaching & Learning Inquiry 8 (2), 32-52. https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.8.2.4.