SoTL and Social Justice: Developing Forms of Curriculum Inquiry

SoTL and Social Justice: Developing Forms of Curriculum Inquiry

Delores D. Liston, Regina Rahimi
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8848-2.ch005
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SoTL provides a foundation for democratizing the teacher-student relationship through its fertile ground for establishing more equalitarian roles among teachers and students. This chapter draws attention to the overlap between the values and essential characteristics of SoTL and the field of curriculum studies, which serves to study and examine social dynamics through curriculum inquiry. Through an exploration of forms of inquiry and research that unites curriculum studies (with its emphasis on transgressive education) and SoTL (with a focus on engagement of teachers and learners as educational community), this chapter highlights how research that dovetails SoTL and curriculum studies can provide powerful opportunity for emphasizing social justice.
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Since the publication of Scholarship Reconsidered (Boyer, 1990), the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) has emerged as an important form of inquiry into educational practice. Bridging the gap between scholarship and teaching (Huber & Hutchings, 2005), SoTL has become a vital field of research focused on the improvement of teaching and learning. SoTL encourages instructors, professors and teachers generally to conduct research studies to enhance their teaching strategies and engage learners more fully in their classrooms.

SoTL may be considered a relative of case study or action research because most SoTL studies explore pedagogical strategies being used in one’s own or similar classrooms. One important goal of SoTL research is to transform the classroom into commons (Huber & Hutchings, 2005) or learning communities. These learning communities establish a theoretical and practical space for the exchange of ideas, enliven classroom interactions and elevate the role of student/learner to co-producer of knowledge. The commons requires a reexamination of the roles of researcher, teacher and learner as they inter-relate within this intellectual space. In this way, teachers and learners co-create the community in which learning takes place. This community is steeped in the learners’ desire to know and remains focused on the interests of the learners. All members of the commons (both teachers and students) are viewed as learners and teachers. And all members of the commons are responsible for the quality of learning that takes place within the established community.

Because the context of the commons recognizes all teachers as learners, the potential of all learners to contribute to the learning of others (including the designated teacher) is highlighted. This focus on leveling teacher-student dynamic into a more interactive and equalitarian balance, is an important connection between the field of Curriculum Studies and SoTL (Freire, 2006/1970; Liston & Rahimi, 2017). Curriculum Studies, as a field has continually explored this dynamic, arguing for more democratic and empowering roles for students (hooks, 2003; Friere 2006/1970, Apple, 2001; Purpel, 1989). One challenge frequently cited in Curriculum Studies is overcoming the traditional teacher-student power imbalance wherein students are continually focused on their evaluation (grades) in the course. This power dynamic is most thoroughly documented through the classic work of Phillip Jackson (1968).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Curriculum Studies Methods: The most commonly employed research designs in Curriculum Studies include descriptive studies, focus groups, case studies, and narrative inquiries (including critical narratives and counter-narratives.

Promoting Social Justice Through the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: An edited book which contains collections from 18 sets of authors highlighting the ethics of SoTL and various ways teachers and learners engage with social justice. The edited text was authored by Liston & Rahimi, 2017 and published by Indiana Press University.

Curriculum Studies Research: Research that prioritizes curriculum as experienced while exploring the sociocultural and political dimensions of the learning environment can be considered Curriculum Studies research.

Commons: Learning communities that establish a theoretical and practical space for the exchange of ideas, enliven classroom interactions and elevate the role of student/learner to co-producers of knowledge (Huber & Hutchins, 2005 AU79: The citation "Huber & Hutchins, 2005" matches multiple references. Please add letters (e.g. "Smith 2000a"), or additional authors to the citation, to uniquely match references and citations. ).

Curriculum Studies: An interdisciplinary field within education which prioritizes the curriculum as experienced over the curriculum as developed.

SoTL-Based/Curriculum Studies Research: Research focusing on the values of transformation and characteristics of Curriculum Studies and pedagogical practices in learning communities. The importance of the development of communal interest, investment and empowerment is a prominent thread in SoTL-based Curriculum Studies investigations.

Reconceptualists: A group of curriculum theorists who influenced the formation of the field of Curriculum Studies as it exists today. This reconceptualization of curriculum study can best be characterized as explorations of the sociocultural contexts of education.

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