1.3.1 Engaging a full range of student voices
Including students in SoTL inquiries may not always be possible. Not all students may understand the benefits of being involved in the SoTL research process. They may not understand the expectations placed upon them. Students may feel uncomfortable because participating as a partner may be considered as a move away from traditional education delivery systems (Gayle, 2018).
Another practice that may exclude some students is the practice of selecting academically strong students for co-inquiry projects (or such students may be the first to volunteer).
Some students may consider it a distraction and a time-consuming activity when they would rather spend their time on activities for which they could be paid.
The concept of student involvement and partnership is especially challenging for international students because of the cultural and educational norms and practices drawn from their prior experience (McConnell and Wisker, 2016).
Felten et al. (2013) argue that SoTL inquiries should be as inclusive as possible. A full range of student voices should be engaged in a SoTL inquiry to create the richest dialogue possible about the learning experience. Irrespective of gender, race, nationality, sexual orientation and socio-economic status, student voices shouldn’t be silenced. To foster a student voice of the majority of students, SoTL practitioners should take active steps to diversify marketing, recruitment and selection methods (Felten et al., 2013).
Teaching students how to provide useful feedback through reflection and critique of their learning experience is a good way to promote the development of their voices and personal growth, hence increasing their confidence to engage in SoTL initiatives (Felten et al., 2013).
As an incentive to encourage engagement and to acknowledge the contributions of students, the Faculty of STEM at the OU is considering awarding digital badges to students. Digital badges serve as a verifiable and trusted indicator of their achievement, which students can include in their curriculum-vitae or digital résumé, such as on LinkedIn.