Pre-conference workshop #4

Innovative methodological approaches to SOTL

Presented by: Stephen Bloch-Schulman, Peter Felten, Johan Geertsema, Yahlnaaw/Aaron Grant and Heather Smith

Room: Nina – Level 3

Time: Wednesday, 13.00-15.45


Abstract:  This workshop will focus on three research methods (conceptual methods, oral histories, and think alouds) and a meta-methodological approach (student-faculty partnerships) that are potentially useful but still relatively rare in SoTL. We will explore:

  • Conceptual methods allude to a host of techniques that “consist of thinking, without any Special interaction with the world … [for example, without direct] measurement, observation or experiment” (Williamson, 2007, p. 1), but with close attention to textuality and language.
  • Oral history interviews, which ask study participants to describe their past experiences, often by referring to specific documents or other learning artifacts linked to those experiences.
  • Think alouds, which ask study participants to talk aloud while doing an activity and analyze what is said to understand, for example, the differences between novices and experts.
  • Students as Partners, with a focus on how this approach to research can be paired with any number of methods to deepen and inform them; in our example, we highlight the use of Indigenous knowledges as a corrective to common SoTL practices and ways of knowing.

For each, we will present an overview and then dig in to a specific example so that participants will leave the workshop having experienced some different ways of gathering evidence to address teaching and learning problems – and having reflected on the ways their own SoTL practice might draw on and be informed by these methods and approaches. We will be particularly attentive to identity, both group and individual identity, and context — where the research and learning are taking place — in our approach to research, students, teaching and learning.

This workshop is well-suited for both those new to and those experienced in the scholarship of teaching and learning.


Stephen Bloch-Schulman, Associate Professor and Chair of Philosophy, Elon University (, Elon, North Carolina, U.S.A.)  works at the intersection of political philosophy and the scholarship of teaching and learning and has written about methods, most recently, in Teaching and Learning Inquiry: The Journal of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. He was the inaugural winner (2017) of the Prize for Teaching Excellence in Philosophy, co-awarded by the American Philosophical Association, the American Association of Philosophy Teachers, and the Teaching Philosophy Association.

Peter Felten is a professor of history, assistant provost for teaching and learning, and executive director of the Center for Engaged Learning at Elon University. His books include the co-authored volumes: The Undergraduate Experience: Focusing Institutions on What Matters Most (Jossey-Bass, 2016); Transforming Students: Fulfilling the Promise of Higher Education (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014); Engaging Students as Partners in Learning and Teaching (Jossey-Bass, 2014); Transformative Conversations (Jossey-Bass, 2013); and the co-edited book Intersectionality in Action (Stylus, 2016). He has served as president of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (2016-17) and also of the POD Network (2010-2011), the U.S. professional society for educational developers. He is co-editor of the International Journal for Academic Development and a fellow of the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education.

Johan Geertsema is Director, Centre for Development of Teaching and Learning, National University of Singapore. His current research focuses on integrated approaches to academic practice; the relation between educational research and the scholarship of teaching and learning; learning communities and teaching academies; and how to evaluate teaching achievement.


Yahlnaaw / Aaron Grant is Skidegate Haida from the Islands of Haida Gwaii and was born and raised in Lax Kxeen (Prince Rupert, BC) on Ts’msyen territory. Come September 2018, Yahlnaaw will begin her Master’s Degree at UNBC in First Nations Studies. Yahlnaaw’s name broadly translates to “leads an exceptional life”. By advancing her education in First Nations Studies with a focus on Indigenous Language and Story Revitalization, she aims to fulfill the meaning of her name. Yahlnaaw’s work also revolves around Decolonization, Indigenization, Reconciliation, and the importance of introducing these concepts to children. In a joint effort with Edōsdi / Dr. Judith Thompson at UNBC, they presented their work, Decolonizing our Colonized Minds, at Provincial, National, and International levels. Yahlnaaw is aware of what it is like to be an Indigenous person growing up in a colonized world and wants to aid in creating a pathway for upcoming Indigenous brothers and sisters in academia. Yahlnaaw believes that her work at UNBC’s Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Technology, Campus Cousins Student Leadership Program, and various other community and academic based platforms will aid in her goal of encouraging growth for our future Indigenous leaders.


Heather Smith is a Professor of Global and International Studies at the University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, BritisSmith is a Professor of Global and International Studies at the University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. She is a 3M National Teaching Fellow, a 2018 B.C. Campus Scholarly Teaching Fellow and Visiting SoTL Fellow at the Dalhousie University Centre for Learning and Teaching.

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