1 The nature of SoTL research
In the video in Activity 1, you will learn about the first characteristic of SoTL research: the processes versus outcomes approach.
Activity 1 SoTL research and outcomes
As you are watching this 3 minutes 32 seconds video, make notes on how Gary Poole, The University of British Columbia (UBC), distinguishes the process versus outcome nature of SoTL research.
Gary separates the outcome component from the process component. The outcome component consists of what is being produced and what knowledge is being generated. He discusses an example of a SoTL inquiry at his institution related to how students can learn from mistakes. Through self-reporting by students, the educators discovered that the way students perceive mistakes was an important predicting factor in understanding how much they would learn from mistakes. This was an important outcome. In this inquiry, which involved students as partners and as research participants and co-researchers, students were interviewed by student researchers. They described a recent mistake they had made and whether they had learned from it. Gary mentioned that the educators learned a lot about students and their learning behaviours by just reading the transcripts.
The process of doing SoTL research yielded as much for the educators as the outcomes. Gary commented: ‘If you're not completely outcome dependent then you don't get nervous about your results.’ He says that even if the SoTL inquiry doesn’t yield gems, it shouldn’t be considered a waste of time.
Gary goes on to say that one of the things that has kept him excited about SoTL research for many years is that it engages people in processes. In SoTL, educators are thinking about their teaching; they're investigating it and then acting upon the outcomes in ways that before the SoTL movement took hold they weren't doing. So, the process of a SoTL inquiry is equally, if not more, influential and valuable to an educator’s practice than the outcomes of the inquiry.
You will examine four further characteristics of SoTL research in the following sections.