I1. Paper Session - Klokkeklang Level 0
This paper addresses the conference theme of building a culture for learning. We argue that developing a stronger writing culture amongst academic staff can have far-reaching impact on the wider learning culture of the university through the integration of teaching, research and writing in the academic role. Two writing interventions were implemented in our institution. Each was underpinned by a view of writing as a process rather than simply a final product, and each recognised the daily realities and pressures of academic life. Both were designed to carve out a space where there was time to think, write and share.
Using visual methods and reflective data, we examined the gradual changes in teachers’ academic writing identities through two parallel interventions. The first was a rapid-fire six-part series of workshops on the craft of academic writing; the second was a slow burn series of monthly writing groups. This paper tells the story of how these interventions helped teachers shift their view of writing as an unremitting drive for output, beginning to see its potential as a creative and rewarding process that generates thinking, enlivens teaching and opens research and ideas to a wider audience.
We suggest that there are both some ‘quick wins’ that can revitalise teachers’ attitudes to writing, and a ‘long game’ in which sustained effort begins to shift both individual and institutional perceptions of the value of writing. We hope that the paper triggers reflection on the place of writing as a powerful, creative agent for thinking, learning and teaching in higher education.
This paper explores a variety of methods rooted in narrative inquiry for understanding and improving student learning. I also also argue for storytelling in the social-justice classroom. First, I will trace how storytelling, including personal narrative, ethnography, podcasting and oral histories, has been an important cross-disciplinary methodology and is becoming more important in the SoTL world, as indicated by the 2016 ISSOTL Conference theme. After analyzing common features of rich narrative inquiry in SoTL, I argue for its broader importance for the field and offer some suggestions for the sorts of questions about student learning that lend themselves well to these methods. I'll also wade into some of the limitations of narrative method, problematizing some of the cultural assumptions built into how narrative has been theorized in academia. Finally, I'll share an ongoing SoTL project working with student co-collaborators to understand student self-narratives of learning and identity in an interdisciplinary program as an example of storytelling as SoTL.
A variety of contemplative practices are being integrated in college classrooms across the country. While it appears clear that contemplative methods have the potential to address many of the most pressing questions in higher education, there is a dearth of evidence in support for these practices. The assessment of attention and awareness in the college classroom, dimensions that undergird all contemplative practices and fundamentally differentiate them from all other transformative approaches, has little precedence in research on teaching and learning. There is an irony in this deficiency. Zajonc (2008) points out that attention is fundamental to learning and “. . . while few would deny this, conventional pedagogy makes little effort to develop the student’s native capacity for attention directly” (p. 9). Perhaps the most salient explanation for this lack is that such dimensions are located in the present moment and first person experience seldom emphasized in the classroom and involving more subtle changes that are difficult to quantify. An understanding of these subtle changes entails a radically different approach to assessment and one that might better capture the transformative nature of learning offered by such practices.
The purpose of the proposed paper is to examine and critique current research on contemplative practices as it intersects with teaching and learning. SoTL and contemplative researchers share many of the same methodological approaches. Qualitative approaches such as phenomenology, ethnography, and grounded theory are such examples as well as the more traditional methods of self-report, cognitive and attentional tasks, and mixed methods. However, the measurement of such dimensions as awareness, consciousness, and internality creates the need for additional approaches that are beginning to make their appearance in methods such as intuitive and narrative inquiry. Still, there are others who are creating a bridge between the traditional methods of research and transpersonal and heuristic approaches in the assessment of contemplative modes. Laura Rendon (2009) articulates this method as working “at the center and at the edge . . . blending methods, perspectives, and discourses to push the envelope of what constitutes academic research and what is involved in uncovering the truth” (p. 155). Like all research, there is an array of limitations and challenges associated with particular methods. These characteristics are particularly germane in the investigation of dimensions of learning seldom measured in educational research. The audience will consider the implications of these challenges for a 21st century research agenda in higher education.
I2. Paper Session - Gjendine Level 0
The thread, “A culture for learning,” may require a “Call to Action: Moving towards Learning by Reducing Stress and Anxiety.” Even though the public image of a university is of one unified entity with equally qualified and experienced professors functioning across departments fostering cultures of learning and growth, the truth is that the contemporary university can be a sprawling, fragmented entity with an uncertain or non-uniform attitude towards both learning, and a key population, the student. Traditionally, the “sink-or-swim” approach leaves students to fend for themselves. More recently, in part because of student suicides and other stress-related crises, universities have become more open to addressing mental health and well-being. One path to create greater student fulfillment and greater unity on a campus, at a university, and even across universities is a path that addresses one thing all students face: stress. By adopting a vision of achievement that addresses stress, a university can help their students succeed.
Within the Western university context of North America, students are subject to mixed messages about staying competitive in a fast-paced demanding educational institution while maintaining a capacity for learning in a slow and measured way. While studied extensively in K-12, mindfulness practice remains a relatively innovative approach for higher education (Frank, Jennings & Greenberg, 2016; Roeser, Skinner, Beers & Jennings, 2012). In this paper, we will discuss how post-secondary educators have a responsibility to role model and teach stress reduction as a foundation for professional practice resiliency and sustainability. As part of the discussion, we will be addressing ways that SoTL might also begin addressing the need for mindfulness research and stress reduction activity in higher education.
Drawing upon classroom and scholarly experiences, the authors will demonstrate practice examples of ways that stress reduction activities enhances teaching and learning by lowering anxiety and reactivity, and raising awareness of intrapersonal (self), interpersonal (others) and environment (Davis, 2014; Frank, Jennings & Greenberg, 2016). These strategies include sharing information about a global call for “Stresstival” and understanding the impacts of ‘structured periods of silence’ in helping students release stress, get a fresh perspective, and reorder their lives. Arguments for solo time in natural environments and cognitive restoration is explored as exposure to natural environments aids recovery from physiological stress and mental fatigue (Berto, 2014; Hartig et al., 2003; Kaplan, 1995; Pearson & Craig, 2014).
In post-secondary, student mental health is a concern as it can interfere with academic success. Potentially, the burdens associated with academic achievement can trigger or aggravate mental health difficulties. After following the progress of 48 students, Wang et al. (2014) found that over the term, particularly as assignments and expectations increased, so did stress, while the mitigating factors associated with stress such as sleep decreased. Increased stress and mental health concerns as well as fewer tools to help when struggling leads to lower grades and early withdraw (Hunt, & Eisenberg, 2010). The National College Health Assessment (NCHA) survey (2016) showed that 33% of respondents considered stress as a factor that impacted their academic performance. Other reported factors considered higher than the national average for our university were sleep difficulties and anxiety. The pressures from studies can activate or intensify mental health challenges. However, intervention can serve as a protective factor (Hysenbegasi, Hass & Rowland, 2005). Mental health literacy leads to students accessing resources when needed (Kutcher, Wei & Morgan, 2016). When faculty are aware of student needs, they are better equipped to support the students who often approach faculty when they are struggling.
Since we are aware of the stressors associated with academia, and in an effort to create a learning culture, we studied the usefulness for students to have self-care embedding in their curriculum. In a two-part study, part one explored students’ experiences with Breathing RoomTM an on-line self-care tool, and part two allowed students to have autonomy of choice for self-care tool, which included BreathngRoomTM. These courses already had content related to self-care however, adding the tools made the self-care content more comprehensive. In both part one and two of this study those students who agreed to be involved in the research provided reflective journals and participated in a semi-structured interview. Using an interpretive inquiry approach we gained an understanding of the impact of and student experiences with the Breathing RoomTM as well as self-identified tools and activities. Within interpretive inquiry, experiences are explored with an attempt interpret phenomena and the meanings made form participants (Cohen, Kahn, & Steeves, 2000). These meanings are interpreted to understand our worlds and their realities. This is an important methodology for this study as description of student experiences with the self-care tools as part of their curriculum is highlighted.
Feelings of isolation and social loneliness among undergraduate students have been reported at rates as high as 32% – globally (Bauer-Wolf, 2017; Paddick, 2017). SoTL research indicates that a sense of belonging and social connectedness (rates at which people come together and interact) in the classroom can create a memorable experience and enhance student learning (Biggs & Tang, 2011). Fostering interpersonal connections between students can provide instructors with the opportunity to cultivate and sustain a culture for learning that will and have a lasting impact across courses and programs. Team-Based Learning (TBL; an instructional strategy that utilizes student teams throughout the duration of a semester) has been demonstrated to result in enriched and memorable learning for students (Wu, Farquhar, & Compton, 2018). Previous studies indicate that TBL courses can lead to increased interpersonal accountability between students. While accountability is important for positive team dynamics, accountability is not analogous to social connectedness. This pilot study contributes to the conversation about social connectedness and belonging within a TBL framework.
The goal of this project was to determine if modifications to a traditional TBL framework could foster social connectedness between students in an undergraduate psychology course. The course included several in-class application activities aimed at developing positive team behvaiours and a term-long assignment in which students assumed various familial roles in order to “raise” a virtual child. Students’ reactions to the team process and interpersonal development activities were recorded using online discussion forums and a summative course evaluation. Narrative analysis was used to extrapolate themes related to perceptions of teaming and social connection (among others). Results from this pilot project included themes related to positive social connectivity, friendships sustained beyond the classroom, and empathy for weaker team members. Several students indicated that interpersonal connections fostered through the Virtual Child activity increased the value they placed the course content. Findings from this project make a significant contribution to SoTL as they demonstrate at that simple strategies within a specific pedagogical example can impact student feelings of social connection within a course and offer a potential buffer to feelings of loneliness. TBL does not fit the design of every course; however, activities utilized within this pilot project can be easily adapted to other instructional formats. Small group discussions will be used to generate dialogue among audience members around how the activities used in this project can be adapted for multiple contexts.
I3. Paper Session - Småtroll Level 0
Authors will summarize results from their four-year longitudinal study (Simper, Frank, Scott & Kaupp, 2018) that investigated a range of assessment methods for evaluating critical thinking, problem-solving, written communication. These skills are considered fundamental elements of an undergraduate education (Johnson, 2009), and some of “the most difficult outcomes to define, teach and assess” (Deller, Brumwell, & MacFarlane, 2015, p. 13). The research, supported by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, tracked skill development in disciplines spanning engineering, science, social science and humanities. There was a consenting sample of n=2697 in first-year, n=785 in second-year, n=599 in third-year, and n=419 in fourth-year who participated in testing on the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA+) or the Critical Thinking Assessment Test (CAT), or had their course work scored using the Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education (VALUE) rubrics.
The results of the study quantified longitudinal growth, but student motivation was a significant concern for standardized tests. The effect size for learning gains between first and fourth-year on the standardized tests were CLA+ d= .44, and CAT d= .65, and sizable growth detected using the VALUE rubrics. The relative cost of implementing the VALUE rubrics was approximately $20 less per student than implementing the tests. Feedback facilitated through the research-based departmental reports and debriefs prompted improvements to courses. Instructors in our longitudinal study found the evidence from the VALUE rubrics being most illustrative and compelling. A web app was developed as part of the project to help instructors to identify and define student outcomes (Simper, 2018). Presenters will facilitate participant engagement with protocols for evaluating a work sample using the VALUE rubrics, with discussion following centered around assessment challenges and strategies for overcoming them.
This presentation addresses the question of the interface between learning spaces and conceptual change in teaching and learning. Academics, educational developers and students were all stakeholders in the process of developing a learning culture that was challenging, forgiving and in the long term also developing. The intention of the project focused on utilizing the advantages provided by a flexible learning environment in order to develop a conscious pedagogical approach that promotes students' understanding.
The case chosen is a natural science course characterized as teacher-focused with traditional teaching methods in traditional spaces. Often having insufficient prior knowledge, the students found the course content difficult and their studies resulted in many fails and re-examinations. The teachers started questioning their own practice and together with a pedagogical developer they initiated a change towards more student-active methods.
The pedagogical design was inspired by the ‘Teaching for Understanding’ framework and the theory of ‘Threshold concepts’. Initially, the teachers identified basic ‘threshold’ concepts, regarded as particularly important for understanding, and the instruction focused on these concepts in particular. The pedagogical practice supported an approach where learning was made visible facilitating interaction and understanding and promoting student activity and collaborative learning.
Making students’ understanding visible to themselves and to the teacher constitutes a good culture of learners. When students are challenged in their learning and prompted to visualize their understanding it becomes clear to the teacher what critical aspects of the learning object that students must be able to distinguish in order to proceed in their understanding.
The examination results improved considerably, both as measured by the proportion of students passing the course module, and by the quality of the answers to the examinations questions. Students were very satisfied with the student-active working methods and argued that they contributed to deeper understanding and improved retention of the course contents.
Experiences from participating teachers show that they assume a new teaching role, they adapt their pedagogical practice to a more student-centered one and select the more flexible learning spaces for their teaching.
Our findings might have implications for the SOTL community. We argue that access to spacious, multi-functional rooms with generous opportunities for both teachers and students to present, communicate and utilize digital resources is one crucial aspect for developing student-active working forms. But in order to fully implement a good culture of learning there is a need for a conscious pedagogical design that promotes students' understanding.
When we say that our course, program, or institution helps students develop “skills,” what do we mean? For instance, by “critical thinking skills,” we might mean “the capacity to recognize and question tacit assumptions.” But might we not also expect, in their development of these “critical thinking skills,” that students will develop the inclination and confidence to perform these tasks on their own, that they will become critical thinkers rather than simply acquire a few critical thinking “tools” for their toolbelt?
Throughout this presentation, attendees will be invited to think and talk about the language they use to describe student learning goals in their courses and programs, and to consider specifically what affects and epistemologies might be revealed and concealed through the language of “skills.” The research presented will suggest that “skills” as a learning goal comprises a conceptual threshold that both separates and connects what have become routinely dichotomized perceptions of student learning: hard/soft, technical/non-technical, cognitive/affective. As much as talking about “skills” can reveal the interconnectedness of these binary pairs (Fink 2013; Hora, Benbow and Oleson 2016), my research suggests that “skills” language does more to conceal that interconnectedness by evoking culturally-informed valuations of one half of the pair over the other (“hard” over “soft,” “cognitive” over “affective,” etc.).
This argument arises from an ongoing, qualitative study on perceptions of assessment among English literature instructors at an American research university. In a series of interviews conducted in 2016, I found that instructors tended to use “skills” language as a means of broaching that which they most wanted students to learn while simultaneously distancing themselves from what felt too “abstract” or “fluffy” about those goals (e.g. the phrase “critical reading skills” used as a more “concrete” stand-in for the ostensibly “soft” skill of empathy). The threshold concepts framework (TCF) helps explain the varying degrees to which these instructors negotiated “skills” language as an entryway and/or barrier to articulating the complex learning that happens in their literature courses. In this regard, we might consider “skills” a threshold concept that faculty across disciplines must wrestle with in developing cultures of learning in their programs. We might also find in TCF an alternative to troublingly binary “skills” language, one that more visibly and purposefully connects student learning goals to transformational rather than consumerist models of learning (Land 2016).
I4. Paper Session - Bekkelokken Level 0
This presentation addresses the “Culture for Learning” track by presenting results from a three-year study investigating the impact of redesigning the Learning Strategies 101 course on students’ beliefs about the nature of intelligence (Mindset), perseverance and passion for long-term goals (Grit), and identification of the most effective learning strategies. The intervention sections of the course deliberately integrated concepts and strategies from three books: Mindset (Dweck, 2006), Make it Stick (Brown, Roediger, McDaniel, 2014), and GRIT (Duckworth, 2016). The course re-design integrated motivational and instructional videos, written reflections, retrieval and practice testing, and interleaved study techniques. These activities were designed to impact students’ levels of Mindset and Grit and introduce them to the most effective learning strategies. Assessments were collected Lesson 1 and Lesson 40. Expanding on last year’s ISSOTL presentation, we will present third year results and new information gleaned from a factor analysis of the Mindset Quiz instrument.
The following research questions guided our study: RQ1): Do students in the intervention sections of LS 101 show larger gains in Mindset scores compared to the control group? RQ2): Do students in the intervention sections of LS101 show greater awareness of the most effective of learning strategies? RQ3): Is there a relationship between Mindset, Learning Strategies Questionnaire, Grit, and GPA? RQ4): Do students in the intervention section report using increasingly more effective strategies throughout the semester? Is there a significant difference in their use of strategies across time?
Results across the three years indicate that students in the intervention sections showed significant gains in Mindset scores and identification of the most effective learning strategies compared to the control group. In addition, students reported using more effective strategies at the end of the semester. These findings align with previous research – intentional interventions can promote change in one’s mindset leading to changes in a person’s perspective about ability and future success (Blackwell, Trzesniewski, & Dweck, 2007; Good, Aronson, & Inzlicht, 2003).
In addition, we found a positive correlation between Post-Mindset scores and Post-LearnStrat scores. These findings are consistent with Sriram’s (2013) results – students who were taught that intelligence is malleable employed study skills more often. And finally, there was a small, positive relationship between Pre and Post Mindset and GRIT scores indicting that GRIT and Mindset are related but are distinct constructs and require specific interventions in order to impact their development. Surprisingly, there was no correlation with GPA.
I5. Panel Session - Peer Gynt Level 2
Since the beginning of 2016, the University of Washington has hosted an online learning community, "Evidence-based teaching: Flipping the Classroom”, with participants from seven Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) institutions, including Tsinghua University, Waseda University, University of Malaya, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, National University of Singapore, University of Southern California, and the University of Washington. Flipped classrooms provide flexibility in the learning environment for depth of content, focus on critical thinking skills such as problem-solving and critiquing sources, and tackling learning goals related to leadership and communication. Framed within our cultures, our learning community discussions have spanned a multitude of approaches to the implementation of flipped classrooms, which we have found naturally lead to peer learning and the formation of groups. We also found that group work plays an important role in promoting equitable teaching and learning in the class (Wenger et al., 2002), in spite of the different cultural backgrounds of the participants of this learning community about the Pacific Rim.
In this panel, learning community presenters will share a bit of background about our learning community and existing literature on the impacts of group work in culturally diverse classrooms with under-represented minorities. The potential role that group work can play in creating a more equitable classroom will be highlighted through a comparison/contrast of the modes in which group work is implemented within our diverse courses. We will also refer to literature on the subject of virtual environments and how, for example, synchronous and asynchronous classrooms can assist in bridging cultural differences for a more equitable community of practice (LaPointe and Gunawrdena, 2004).
Specifically, presenters will share each of their best practices and examples from their institutions in HK, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, and U.S. Practices from both face-to-face classrooms and virtual learning settings will be shared. For example, in Singapore, male university students are 2 years older than their female counterparts due to the compulsory 2-year military National Service and they tend to be more likely to assert leadership than females. Based on the acknowledgement of this age diversity with respect to gender, our presenter from the National University of Singapore will showcase how he uses permanent teams for the whole quarter in his class, setting up teamwork agreements and assessments; knowing the diverse background of the class encourages participation from more students.
Similarly, Singapore’s multi-racial and multi-religious society may offer a good example of the potential impacts of group formation on equitable teaching or students’ perception of it. Should students be allowed to form groups by themselves with the risk of culturally homogeneous groups? Or should diversity within the group be enforced? The implications of those circumstances on group dynamics, on group members’ assertiveness and maturity and on group productivity will be discussed.
In addition, following recent existing literature that indicated that Peer Instruction in introductory physics can bring about positive changes in students’ attitudes and beliefs (Zhang, Ding, and Mazur, 2017), our presenter from the University of Washington will showcase the teamwork strategies she employs in her physics class, including practices of grouping and designing roles for each group member, help for students of under-represented minorities to contribute actively in class learning, and facilitation of learning for the class as a whole.
Finally, presenters will facilitate an open discussion around the comparison and contrast among the various adopted models (similarities/differences in issues, methods) and frame the discussion within existing literature. Then presenters will facilitate an interactive Q&A session with audience to exchange insights and learn from each other’s experiences on the topic of equitable teaching and learning through group work in classrooms.
I6. Paper Session - Bøygen Level 2
Diversity in the academy is critical for all students; to this end, Universities have, for some time been reaching out to new generations of students. However, first generation students entering higher education encounter a culture where the values and beliefs are likely to be different from their previous experiences (Bryson, 2014) and they have to make sense of their experiences as they develop a new identity (Chow and Healey, 2008). O’Shea et al (2016) cite students describing their personal transformations in terms of excitement and positive difference yet, we know that first generation students often fail to progress in higher education to the same extent as their peers who have family experience of university life (Hamshire, Forsyth et al., 2018).
The challenges faced by first generation students have been well documented in several countries (Hamshire, Forsyth et al., 2018; Laubscher-Kelly, Paxton et al., 2018) and yet students from non-traditional backgrounds continue to report considerable difficulties in adapting to university life. Academic staff play a key role in shaping the academic environment, particularly within the classroom and thus are key players in creating spaces where all students feel welcome. One of the most important investments we as SoTL practitioners and educators can make is to understand our students’ learning yet there has been limited research into how educators create an engaging environment for first generation students.
This paper reports on a collaborative project between researchers in the UK and South Africa exploring staff perceptions of first generation students’ experiences. Despite the very different cultural contexts experienced by these students, staff reported considerable similarities in the challenges they faced in integrating into university life. Ten members of staff volunteered to be included in the study at each of the participating institutions, and were invited to reflect on their perceptions and experiences, using semi-structured interviews. All interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim and subsequently analysed using a thematic approach to identify staff perceptions.
In this session, we will present key themes from the data and explore how inclusion is both facilitated and inhibited, presenting a summary of the findings as well as reflections on future developments and potential wider implications. We will also detail some of the challenges around first generation students that were identified by the staff and make recommendations for curriculum design and delivery to meet student needs and enhance inclusivity.
As Universities aim for increased numbers of international students, it is important to highlight how this shift is impacting students and staff. This paper reports on a 1-year project funded by a newly established Institute forTeaching Excellence (LITE). It investigates the connection between language, disciplinary content and knowledge communication, and touches on the key issues of internationalisation, inclusion and teaching excellence in HE.
Three case studies explored where and how teachers and learners find that language and disciplinary content knowledge diverge and intersect using an Academic Literacies ethnographic framework (Lea & Street, 1996). Using inductive content analysis, findings gathered from data including fieldnotes, interviews, observations and documents as artefacts suggest that issues of identity, trust and agency are key for developing practice in this area. Language is seen to have an impact across all aspects of students’ academic development and experience and as central to all forms of knowledge creation. Yet the linguistic practices of disciplines often remain occluded.
I also suggest that much support for international students remains outside the core of academic teaching and learning, and therefore argue that language in particular needs to be a more explicitly integral part of any HE curriculum. Thus, I propose a framework for pedagogical content knowledge (Shulman, 1996) that includes an explicit focus on language across the social, cultural and academic domains of HE where academic language is viewed as a threshold concept (Meyer & Land, 2003) in its own right.
Within a language-connected curriculum, there is a necessary move towards a praxis of uncertainty (Meyer & Land, 2005), where a culture of learning involves both students and staff. Collaboration and co-construction of learning between content and language experts is required. Cultural and linguistic differences cannot be viewed as static or easily labelled, suggesting a constant need for reflexive exploration of the diverse needs of each different cohort of students. Therefore, we move away from a focus ‘on how international students can be ‘enabled’ to succeed academically . . . [towards] how they might influence curricular enhancements’ (Ippolito, 2007:750) and ultimately towards a higher education ‘premised upon the explicit aims of inclusion and diversity’ (Lillis, 2003:192).
Finally, I outline the practical impact my project has had within my own institution. As part of a growing institutional culture of SoTL, it has encouraged development of a more inclusive, international approach to education. Lessons learned from this work could be applied to other contexts.
Among the newly arrived refugees in Sweden there are many that are in need of completing their upper secondary studies to be eligible for studies at the university level. For students in science and technology there is a need to complete their degrees with respect to the scientific subjects as well as the Swedish language. In addition there is a need to bridge the gap between different educational systems. Enrolling in a preparatory year is also a good way to prepare for further studies at university level, for all students (report Teknikföretagen, 2018).
Since the fall 2017, Uppsala university is organising a preparatory year for newly arrived refugees. The education is organised by the Faculty of Science and Technology, the Department of Scandinavian languages and the local municipality of Uppsala. The preparatory year contain courses in physics, mathematics and chemistry, as well as a course in the Swedish language running in parallel throughout the year. The target group has been newly arrived students with a background in science from upper secondary school. From 2015, the largest group of newly arrived refugees in Sweden is from Syria (report Swedish Migration Agency, 2017). The educational background of the Syrian students is quite similar to the background of the Swedish students, with some notable differences (SUHF, 2018; report Nuffic, 2015). Two such differences, which comprise major difficulties for students entering the university, are the lack of about a semester’s worth of courses and experience with lab work.
During the preparatory year the content learning in science is integrated with learning the new language. Since the students have some background in science they can during the first part of the program focus more on language and general skills in the partly familiar setting of the science courses. The newly arrived students study the courses in science together with Swedish students. This enables continuously practising the language and facilitates integration of the students in the larger group of students on the preparatory year.
We will discuss the experiences of the teachers and students participating in the program, its evaluation as well as the process of establishing it as a regular part of the education offered by the university. The challenges have varied from setting up an interdisciplinary education combining language and science requiring competences of teachers not usually working together to meeting a group of culturally diverse students in the classroom.
I7. Workshop Session - Troldtog Level 3
- identify learning activities that nurture your students' (and your own) pleasure in writing;
- plan targeted interventions based on evidence-based principles;
- adapt the strategies developed in this workshop for writing and teaching activities at your own institution.
I8. Workshop Session - Bekken Level 3
In higher education contexts where research excites more recognition than teaching (see Deuscher Wissenschaftsrat, 2017), the time and effort required for faculty to publish SoTL research projects is often difficult to afford. Moreover, even when faculty publish about teaching in international journals, the impact on teaching and learning at their local institution may be limited (see Geertsema, 2015).
Our workshop considers how SoTL can contribute to developing a culture that learns within a higher education institution. We build on a definition of SoTL as the systematic inquiry into student learning (Hutchings & Shulman, 1999). In order to establish teaching as a "community property" (Shulman, 1993), this inquiry is shared with peers. Following Stensaker (2017), we view the development of local teaching expertise (Geertsema, 2015; Ashwin, Trigwell, Baume, & Kahn, 2004) as a form of cultural work within an institution.
We conceptualise SoTL artefacts as individual threads of teaching knowledge in a specific higher education institution. We suggest that these threads can develop into a body of collective local teaching expertise if woven in a deliberately planned and facilitated way. First, the threshold for doing SoTL needs to be lowered to include a wider range of systematic inquiry activities (see Huber & Hutchings, 2005). Second, outcomes of all such SoTL activities need to be captured as visible manifestation of culture (see Schein, 1990) in the form of artefacts. Third, the sharing of these artefacts must be promoted. And fourth, artefacts must be systematically reintroduced at the local institutional level.
Our workshop will propose a model that a) allows placing different SoTL artefacts on a continuum ranging from lower to higher degrees of systematic inquiry, and b) reveals opportunities for reintroducing these artefacts. Workshop participants apply the model to their own institutional contexts. They specifically will:
- identify ways to engage a greater number of faculty members in the systematic inquiry of teaching and learning through the production of artefactual outcomes;
- identify opportunities and ways of sharing and reintroducing these artefacts for the purpose of enhancing local knowledge;
- begin to systematically orchestrate these opportunities.
Our workshop provides space for discussion of the model and explicitly encourages participants to share their insights across institutions.
I9. Paper Session - Nina Level 3
The European Commission’s Eurydice-report (2014), Modernisation of Higher Education in Europe: Access, Retention and Employability, states that it is not enough to open the doors to our universities, we need to work systematically with widening participation. And now we are aligning our work according to European Standards and Guidelines and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (2015), where student-centered learning is a standard to work towards. The question is, how do we work with Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, not as an add-on but core to our practices? The concept Universal Design for Learning, UDL (CAST, 2011) is one answer to widen participation.
This presentation focuses on the results of a project where 7 members of faculty took part in workshops learning the concept of UDL and adapting their curricula according to the principles of UDL. During 2017 that project turned into a UDL-course for faculty. The course was arranged under the umbrella of higher education development. In situations where there is flexibility both when it comes to how the students learn and how they present what they know, as well as room for feedback and reflections on learning from the students’, research has shown that the talk of different subgroups, such as students with a different native tongue (Fovet & Mole, 2013) becomes obsolete. UDL is one way of teaching and learning that sees diversity as the norm (CAST, 2011).
Feedback from faculty and pros and cons of the concept will be addressed. The presentation ends with a discussion.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) draws on neuroscience findings (Meyer and Rose, 2000) and provides a roadmap for inclusive pedagogy which provides clear signposts for embedding an inclusive learning culture in higher education. UDL can be a powerful SoTL lever since it makes clear how faculty can prioritise student learning and what evidence counts to show students’ engagement in their learning.
At our university we provide a suite of accredited programmes for faculty in teaching and learning in higher education. A key aspect of each course is the prioritisation of an inclusive curriculum that celebrates diversity. We embed UDL principles by aligning them with a SoTL philosophy of making teaching and learning visible. We focus on the following types of questions:
- How can we engage all students in their learning?
- What does an inclusive curriculum look like?
- What counts as evidence in developing student engagement, performance and understanding?
- How can we embed an inclusive learning culture at our institution?
UDL draws on the evidence provided by the brain’s neural networks to guide our pedagogical decisions: We need to acknowledge the role of the Recognition Networks (the ‘what’ of learning); the Strategic Networks (the ‘how’ of learning); and the Affective Networks (the ‘why’ of learning) if we are to embrace diversity and maximise student learning opportunities. UDL deduces three pedagogical principles based on the evidence of these neural networks that will help faculty to include all learners and harness learning opportunity and performance. As faculty we need to answer the UDL call and to design curricula with the following student-centred principles in mind:
- Provide multiple means of Representation (the ‘what’ of learning) so that we can encourage purposeful and resourceful learners;
- Provide multiple means of Action and Expression (the ‘how’ of learning) so that we encourage strategic, goal- directed learners;
- Provide multiple means of Engagement (the ‘why’ of learning) so that we develop purposeful, motivated learners.
Such a journey provides a SoTL pathway where faculty can critique and peer review their practice and assessment approaches for the benefit of student learning. This paper will chart the case studies of a number of faculty from a variety of disciplines to show how we have developed an inclusive curriculum and its implications for teaching, learning and assessment. Our findings indicate that UDL begets good curriculum design and advances innovative assessment and student learning and performance.
The well established benefits of student participation in the teaching and learning praxes known as high-impact practices (HIPs) – especially undergraduate research, internships, global engagement, learning communities, and community–based learning – include significantly higher rates of persistence and graduation, self-efficacy, analytical and problem-solving skills, and oral and written communication. These gains are most pronounced for students who have been underserved in higher education: those from indigenous and other underrepresented minority groups and/or who are low-income or first-generation (Brownell & Swaner, 2010; Hernandez, Schultz, Estrada, Woodcock & Chance, 2013; Kinzie, Gonyea, Shoup, & Kuh, 2008; Kuh, 2008; Kuh & O’Donnell, 2013; McNair, Albertine, Cooper, McDonald & Major, 2016). Students from underserved groups often attended under-resourced secondary schools and may not have family members who can guide them in achieving academic and career goals. Developing valuable competencies in the context of supportive relationships with mentors and peers is therefore particularly efficacious for underserved students (Shanahan, 2018). However, data from multiple institutions indicate persistent inequality, as access to the most valuable learning opportunities still disproportionately favors economically advantaged students with family legacies of higher education (Carpi, Ronan, Falconer & Lents, 2016; Finley & McNair, 2013; McNair et al., 2016; Osborn & Karukstis, 2009).
This practice-oriented research addresses that disparity and brings to light strategies that ensure an inclusive learning culture and equitable access to HIPs. Methods were composed of (a) a narrative review of the literature of the last 10 years on diversity, inclusion, and equity in high-impact practices, especially undergraduate research, internships, global engagement, and community-based learning; (b) open-ended surveys of over 300 students from underserved groups participating in faculty-mentored research at a diverse, comprehensive university of 9,000 undergraduates in the United States; and (c) focus groups of students who participated, and those who did not, in honors research, study abroad, and residential learning communities at that same university. Findings show that particular recruitment efforts and forms of social-emotional support from faculty/staff increased rates of participation and persistence of students from underserved groups. This presentation will share recent SoTL research on the myriad benefits of more diverse and inclusive participation in high-impact practices; explain the barriers to equitable access identified by students; and describe successful approaches for welcoming and supporting students from underserved groups in excellent learning opportunities. It illustrates how heightened attentiveness to equity can ensure that inclusion is core to our most consequential programs.
I10. Paper Session - Bukken Level 3
Teaching faculty and librarians alike struggle to help students see academic research as an interesting, even empowering, opportunity for discovery and exploration. We design creative and challenging assignments, introduce students to complex ideas and rich sources, and still end up disappointed when our students return again and again to the same topics, arguments, and resources. The research in this area is clear: in the high-pressure world of college, many students are afraid to try new things. Traditional research paper assignments carry high stakes for students. They require several weeks of time and effort, and they usually represent a significant part of a student’s course grade. Failure to meet expectations has consequences.
In this context it’s a logical choice for students to cling to topics, tools, and resources they’ve used before, and that they know will work. Drawing on insights from a variety of qualitative studies and classroom assessments, a team of librarians and writing program faculty will illustrate how the use of reflective frameworks, including curiosity, assumption hunting, and authentic evaluation can help teachers help students manage the uncertainty and risk that is an inherent part of research.
The presenters bring several years of experience training new university teachers to deliver a required course in academic research writing. Research with students in this course suggests that direct feedback, delivered in the moment, is the most important thing that teachers can do to help students engage in a curiosity-driven research process. Working intentionally and collaboratively with students, we have developed a variety of activities that help teachers:
*Identify and understand the challenges students face in the research process;
*Critically examine assumptions to understand how their teaching is shaped by their personal experience with research and learning;
*Demonstrate how “hunting assumptions” can be used to draw useful connections between critical thinking, reflective practice, and student research assignments;
*Use insights about curiosity and critical thinking, drawn from several disciplines, to develop engaging learning activities;
*Engage in reflective practice, and model authentic, curiosity-driven inquiry in their classrooms.
Attendees will understand how using a variety of playful and engaging activities can intentionally reward curiosity-driven research behaviors. Attendees will be encouraged to assess their own teaching practices to determine how using reflective frameworks like curiosity or examining assumptions can encourage learners to adopt new research practices.
The benefits of engaging students in meaningful research are well established, and include increased understanding of scientific processes, persistence in science, and interest in science as a career. However, traditional, “apprentice”-style research experiences are typically restricted to a select few students, further expanding gaps in equity in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Course-based research experiences (CREs), or those embedded in a standard curriculum, can lower barriers to access to research experiences and give a broad range of students the ability to develop key science-process skills (e.g. developing a hypothesis, designing and executing experiments, interpreting data, etc.). While many educators have taken the initiative to design CREs in areas such as microbial ecology, experimental evolution, and marine biology, we are in our infancy not only with regard to curricular transformation, but also with respect to assessment.
The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) is the world’s northernmost institution for higher education, and is specialized for field-based inquiry and education in the High Arctic. UNIS courses are characterized by CREs, therefore UNIS is an ideal location to investigate questions related to optimizing these experiences—for both students and faculty. Further, the field-based nature of these courses allows us to consider the unique challenges and potential of field courses. These courses are often expensive and require more planning and internal resources than traditional lecturing in a classroom setting. Given the costs associated with field courses, it is critical to quantify and optimize their benefits.
We will introduce UNIS, give an overview of some of the CREs, and present our findings from a survey- and interview-based study of students and faculty in Winter 2017. Specifically, we found that faculty employ a range of different types of inquiry in their courses—from open inquiry, to discovery-based inquiry, to CREs. Faculty value the integration of research and teaching, but worry about exploiting student efforts for the faculty’s research aims. Student perceptions are similarly positive. On a post-course survey, students were asked about their level of investment during course-based research projects; on average, students claim to have been “very invested” in the research projects. An emergent concern involves the collaborative aspect of the research projects, and how best to navigating challenging inter-cultural group dynamics. Thus, our discussion will center on ways to facilitate effective group work, with a consideration of culturally relevant pedagogy, in future courses.
An ongoing challenge in contemporary STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education is the development of training programs that emphasize skill learning. In China, this need for skill competence is accentuated by the fact that most published research is conducted by students, both graduate and undergraduate. It is, therefore, in the interest of Chinese higher education to build and implement effective systems that allow students to obtain skill competence as early as possible.
Drawing upon many of the lessons of active learning and scientific teaching, this paper describes the approach we took in designing and implementing the BIOS (Biology Intensive Orientation Summer) program, a five-week authentic research experience that provides comprehensive lab skill training to undergraduates. Six topical areas were represented in the program — biochemistry, cell biology, fish genetics, fly genetics, mouse genetics, and plant biology — with each student being allowed to participate in two. The BIOS program combines inquiry-based learning and groupwork with a system of process- and outcome-based assessments to verify efficacy, allowing for an evolving and self-regulating system that responds to student performance. We believe the structure of BIOS is a useful model applicable to other academic disciplines requiring improvements in skill competence, either for student research or, further downstream, in future career development.
We believe BIOS is a useful example in the larger, ongoing paradigm shift currently transforming STEM education. Many of the circumstances resulting in BIOS’s design are considerations we believe to be of interest to any academic audience that has skill development as a priority end goal. The various principles incorporated into BIOS — principles such as jigsaw learning, structured controversy, and iterative practice — can all be applied to skill learning in other fields such as history, economics, and language. In this sense, we hope a presentation of our work will be appealing to a more generalized higher education audience, not just STEM educators.
The desired outcomes for this session are as follows: 1) familiarize participants with the core concepts of scientific teaching, active learning, and authentic research experiences; 2) explain the main design features of BIOS and how the core concepts were implemented; 3) present some assessment data demonstrating the effectiveness of BIOS; and 4) convey the applicability of these concepts and decisions to the construction of similar programs in other disciplines through examples of some non-STEM education projects currently ongoing.
I11. Paper Session - Room 304 Level 3
Assessment of pedagogical competence is often considered difficult and challenging, but during the last 10-15 years a more reflected and scholarly practice has developed (Ryegård et al., 2010; Olsson & Roxå, 2013). In Sweden, this development has been supported on a national level by offering a course for prospective assessors organized through a cooperation between several universities. The course has been given on six occasions since 2010 and academics from different disciplines, faculties and universities meet (on campus and online) to develop their assessment skills and exchange experiences about peer-review based assessment of pedagogical competence. The overall aim of the course is to strengthen the assessment of pedagogical competence by promoting professional assessment processes and expert assessments of high quality. The course is aimed for academics who want to develop their ability to assess pedagogical competence as part of assessments of applications for appointment, promotion or teaching awards. Among the participants we find teachers who act as pedagogical experts, chairpersons and members of teacher appointment committees, as well as university teachers who develop or coordinate local pedagogical reward systems. So far, 125 participants from 24 universities have completed the course.
The presentation will address the following issues: The course could contribute to the development of a national consensus in the assessment of pedagogical competence. Which are the advantages and disadvantages of this development? How is the assessment of teaching and learning in the disciplines (subject didactics) and connections to research affected by the fact that the participants in the course are from different disciplines? What does it mean to discuss assessment of pedagogical competence without discussing assessment of scientific competence at the same time? Which are the shortcomings in the documentation and how can the expert assessment and feedback stimulate further development of the portfolio and an increased understanding of how an authentic documentation could be presented? How should a clear assessment of high quality be formulated to give feedback to universities as well as applicants (Meizlish & Kaplan, 2008; Trevitt & Stocks, 2012)? These questions are discussed based on evaluations of completed courses that illustrate participants’ views on the course and how they afterwards reflect on the value of the course.
Course leaders and mentors are academics with extensive experience in assessing pedagogical competence. The course leaders have given the course with the support of their respective universities and the national educational network Swednet (a member of ICED).
In this study, we analyse 94 reviews of teaching qualifications in 45 recent full professorship appointment and promotion assessments within a Scandinavian research-intensive university. The reviews are done by institutionally external reviewers, usually experts in the disciplinary field. National legislation requires research and teaching qualifications respectively to be assessed with equal thoroughness. Consequently, there is increased attention to the documentation and assessment of teaching qualifications and pedagogical competence, nationally (Ryegård et al., 2010) and institutionally (Olsson et al, 2012). However, it is unclear how this has influenced the actual review practices. In fact, Fanghanel et al. (2016) in a sector-wide study point out that “the recognition and reward of teaching excellence is a significant and yet under-utilized tool for institutions” (p. 16) and that ”[G]aining a clear picture of progress in this area is difficult due to the variation in implementation of policies and difficulty in gaining data from institutions about promotions.” (p. 19).
The purpose of our study is to provide empirical data as a basis for the work of academic appointment and promotion committees. The study is made in collaboration with a research group investigating external reviews at another similar university (Elmgren & Forsberg, 2017; Levander, 2017). The questions discussed and explicitly answered in our presentation at the conference are:
- How are teaching qualifications reflected in the reviews?
- Which educational themes are visible, and which are potentially missing in the reviews?
- How do reviewers justify candidates' teaching qualifications?
Overall, reviewers use much less text space on commenting teaching qualifications, 25% of the review at the most, compared to comments about scientific qualifications. The reviews are mainly focused on what is easily quantifiable, such as years of teaching experience, or on personal characteristics that supposedly lead to good teaching and student learning, such as enthusiasm or engagement. Acknowledgement and recognition of SoTL-work is largely missing, along with qualitative assessments of the teaching practice, student learning outcomes and educational development. We therefore see ample opportunities to raise the demands of the qualities of external reviews with regard to teaching qualifications. One way to achieve this is to clarify the instructions to external reviewers, thus facilitating the work of appointment committees. In the long-term perspective, the results of this study might potentially contribute to an academic culture that learns how to pay thorough attention to important aspects of teaching qualifications, including engagement with SoTL.
Through teaching awards, institutions aim to both generate and sustain a culture that supports teachers, recognizes the accomplishments of excellent teachers, and encourages other faculty to strive for excellence. Through their stated criteria, awards also help to communicate the institution’s conception of teaching excellence (Little & Locke, 2011).
However, Chism’s (2006) survey of teaching award programs in the United States found that the award programs rarely used specific criteria, required minimal evidence to support the criteria, and none of the institutions defined what excellent teaching looks like. A similar study has not been completed in Canada. This study sought to investigate what are the criteria, evidence, and standards currently used to award teaching in higher education institutions across Canada; what are the differences between institution types; and how does the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning feature in these awards?
We collected information from 89 post-secondary institutions across Canada in 2017, including community colleges, polytechnic institutions, undergraduate, master’s, and comprehensive universities, as well as U15s (research-intensive). Data included the evidence, criteria, award themes, and standards and definitions of excellent teaching for their teaching awards. All information was gathered and coded in NVivo by one author and checked for consistency and reliability with the other two who each coded awards from one province. Differences were discussed until agreement was reached and subsequently the entire data set was coded.
We started by using the codes from Chism (2006) and found that we needed to add two more codes for curriculum and program development, and research (which meant keeping knowledge up to date and integrating new research into a course, distinct from SoTL which was a separate code). SoTL was explicitly listed in 24% of the awards, compared to 8% in Chism (2006). Only 4 of the 89 Canadian institutions provided standards for their awards programs. Additional findings, such as the most common criteria and forms of evidence, and differences between institution types will be presented. We will also discuss how this study informed revisions to our own Faculty Excellence awards program.
Our study contributes to the literature about the nature of teaching awards in higher education and the prevalence of SoTL. Audience members will have an opportunity to compare our findings to their own institutions’ awards programs and based on their experiences, to share, discuss, and reflect on the benefits and drawbacks of different models and criteria for institutional teaching awards.