Writing Into the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Approaches to Supporting Faculty to Find Their “Voice”

Writing Into the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Approaches to Supporting Faculty to Find Their “Voice”

Kathryn Janet Meldrum (James Cook University, Australia) and Kristi Giselsson (James Cook University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2212-7.ch009

Abstract

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) has been suggested as an ideal vehicle for engaging faculty with professional development for teaching in higher education. However, previous authors have identified that faculty find writing about SoTL difficult. The aim of this chapter is to support educational developers (EDs) to collaborate with faculty to support writing. Two theoretical frameworks to support collaboration are proposed: the first, the Knowledge Transforming Model of Writing, to assist with the process of writing; the second, an adaptation of Brigugilio's working in the third space framework to support collaboration. The authors utilise both frameworks to reflect on their own SoTL collaboration and subsequently pose questions to support faculty and EDs to do the same. Ultimately, it is proposed that collaboration not only enhances the practices of faculty and EDs but improves what should be an important priority for the wider academy: the learning outcomes of students.
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Introduction

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) has been suggested as an ideal vehicle for engaging faculty with professional development for teaching in higher education (Amundsen & Wilson, 2012; Fanghanel, 2013). As a vehicle for professional development, SoTL should demonstrate five principles (Felten, 2013); one of which is the need for the findings of any SoTL inquiry to be publicly shared. Public sharing of SoTL findings can take a variety of forms, including writing, and many faculty choose to publish in scholarly journals. However, authors such as Chalmers (2011) and Harland and colleagues (2014) have identified that faculty find writing about SoTL difficult for a number of reasons, principally because it differs from their disciplinary roots. Moreover, faculty are often reluctant to engage with SoTL (Chalmers, 2011; Flavell et al., 2018; Harland, et al., 2014) on the grounds that it is commonly viewed as “a lower form of educational research” (Fanghanel, 2013, p. 67), with disciplinary research being regarded as superior (Flavell, Roberts, Fyfe, & Broughton, 2018). Despite the identification of the multifaceted issues that arise when faculty start to write about SoTL, there is a dearth of scholarly publications related to such challenges. In addition, given the role that educational developers (EDs) play in the professional development of faculty in higher education (Amundsen & Wilson, 2012; Cilliers & Herman, 2010), it is crucial that they are able to understand and incorporate strategies for constructively engaging with faculty to support writing for and about SoTL. Consequently, the aim of this chapter is to support EDs to collaborate with faculty and support writing about SoTL. We explore the opportunities and challenges of such collaboration via reflection on a SoTL project from the perspective of faculty (Kristi Giselsson) and an ED (Kathryn Meldrum).

Two different theoretical frameworks are introduced to support collaboration. The first, the Knowledge Transforming Model of Writing proposed by Bereiter and Scardamalia (as cited in Keys, 1999), provides a framework for supporting both parties in understanding the conceptual, discourse, and rhetorical issues that faculty face as they write about SoTL. The second theoretical framework is an adaption of Briguglio’s (2014) third space model. This adaption provides a way to conceptualise how collaboration for writing about SoTL can take place between EDs and faculty. It does this by acknowledging and valuing the professional and contextual characteristics that each brings to a collaboration by posing a series of questions based on the model, used to frame reflections about SoTL by both parties to support establishing a trusting and respectful collaboration.

The chapter begins by providing an overview of the literature that informs educational developers’ practice with respect to supporting faculty to develop their SoTL practice through writing. Briguglio’s (2014) third space theoretical framework is then proposed to provide a foundation upon which to draw on our own experience in discussing what we brought to the third space in our SoTL writing collaboration. In this section we also discuss the opportunities and challenges that we faced during our collaboration. Finally, the chapter concludes by proposing some strategies to support the collaboration between faculty and EDs as they write for and about SoTL.

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