1.2 Considerations when making SoTL public
McKinney (2007) notes that the notions of making SoTL public and of peer review are socially constructed; they vary by time or history, context and the groups involved in defining them. For some institutions, an uptake of SoTL outcomes within the same discipline will suffice, while some institutions or sponsors may want the outcomes of SoTL inquiries to be generalised for other disciplines.
There are disciplinary or institutional differences in norms about peer review. For some institutions, an internal review and evaluation of the SoTL inquiry by colleagues other than the team that led the inquiry will be considered as peer review, while others will view peer review to be a blind review for an external publication.
There are disciplinary differences too for publication outlets. Journal publications are the primary ways of sharing scholarship in Mathematics, while in Computer Science, presentations in international conferences such as those of IEEE and ACM are considered to be impactful. Therefore, speak to colleagues in your discipline, department and institution to find out about the expectations for peer review and making SoTL public.
Whichever mechanism you use for sharing your SoTL work, write to suit the medium and for the audience. So, writing a blog post is different from consolidating a report for your project sponsor. Similarly, writing for a pedagogical journal will be different from writing for a journal in your discipline, and writing of Discipline-based education research (DBER) will be different from writing an account of a SoTL inquiry.
For making your SoTL work public, these are some general considerations.
- Since the context of your inquiry may be specific to your set of students, discipline or institution, give sufficient details of the context and the motivation for conducting the SoTL inquiry.
- Embed the results and recommendations in the relevant extant literature to connect the resources with theory, or to assess their effectiveness.
- Adhere to the ethical considerations of your inquiry in dissemination; for example, if anonymity of participants had been agreed, then make sure that the reporting, photography, etc. is anonymised.
- The processes of reflection and reflexivity are central to learning, scholarly analysis and SoTL. In keeping with the ethos of SoTL, reflective writing and reflective accounts in dissemination will be useful in capturing and sharing with others the complexities of the research processes, the experiences, analyses, outcomes and challenges of learning and teaching in higher education (Cook-Sather et al., 2019).
- Reflective writing is not about compromising on the rigour of reporting. In fact, including the messy and complex nature of SoTL demonstrates your self-awareness and helps to include your voice in reporting. This helps to make the dissemination relatable and comprehensible to the community.
- Cook-Sather et al. (2019) suggest that colleagues who engage in SoTL occupy a range of roles (such as academic staff, professional staff, student). It is, therefore, important to develop forms of writing that are accessible to a wide range of readers, including students.
Activity 4 Strategies for disseminating SoTL
Think about the various strategies for disseminating SoTL that you have encountered in this session so far.
- For the SoTL inquiry that you are designing to conduct in the near future, reflect on any challenges that you may experience and how you will overcome them. Next, list some target conferences (within your institution and outside) and journals that you may consider for sharing the results of your inquiry.
- If you are not currently planning to conduct a SoTL inquiry, reflect on some of the challenges that you may have faced in disseminating the results of your research or other projects. Do they resonate with what you have learned so far?