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Jane Jankowski
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Monday, February 17, 2003

What IU Bloomington faculty members say about SOTL

My Carnegie project, "I've Got the Word in Me and I Can Sing, You Know: Using Representative Illustrations as Modes of Enhancing Student Learning," introduced me to the world of SOTL. And I have not been the same since! The SOTL program has reinforced my passionate concern for and interest in what fosters student learning. In this regard, the program is both engaging and enriching. As a result of the program and my own Carnegie research, which focuses on the extent to which common sayings, quotations, examples and stories improve student learning, I now view teaching in new and different ways.

My orientation toward teaching has been changed by my scholarly research and confrontation with such compelling questions as: "Are classroom lectures in our pedagogical future? What is the 'end game' in terms of sustaining student attention? What student sensibilities are being changed as a result of popular media? Can a generation of teachers schooled in one medium (oral/print) keep pace with students who are schooled in another medium (visual)?"

Prior to my encounter with SOTL, I had observed that university professors were being challenged to find more effective and timely allusions in order to reach students outside their assigned texts. SOTL helped me to understand the roots of the challenge, providing both substance and energy!

Carolyn Calloway Thomas
Associate Professor, Communication and Culture
Adjunct Associate Professor, Afro-American Studies

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Program is the most important and the most enjoyable initiative I have participated in since I joined the IU faculty in 1966. It is the most important because it has the potential to radically reform undergraduate learning and to markedly increase teaching effectiveness. Indeed, it has already led to some major changes in how courses are taught here. It is the most enjoyable because of the new sense of community it has fostered among the teachers most interested in improving education. Reactions at the first meeting of the advisory committee for IU's then-nascent SOTL program can be summarized by two comments faculty made: "I didn't think I would live to see this initiative at any research university" and "Don't pinch me -- If I'm dreaming I don't want to wake up."

SOTL turns the research talents of key faculty to the task of improving undergraduate education. IU's program has been based on exceptional faculty, administrative and staff leadership and on levels of resource reallocation by key administrative units that are unprecedented in terms of support for improving teaching. Significant effects from a faculty point of view have included the formation of a community of scholars who are exploring ways of fostering and documenting student learning (we had no idea so many of us had already started to do this) and increased recognition and rewards for those doing this kind of research. The biweekly SOTL sessions have fostered an approach to college education that is evidence-based and is framed by an array of major pedagogical theories. In brief: Great fun doing very important work. Professional life doesn't get any better than this and is very rarely this good!

Craig Nelson
Professor of Biology and of Public and Environmental Affairs

The SOTL program has been extremely valuable to me and has allowed me to extend my research program and the generation of new ideas and measurement approaches to better understand technology, teaching and learning. The results of my SOTL Web-enhancement project have been a catalyst for the development of a model for new and improved practices and processes for the integration of instructional technologies that will certainly enhance student learning. Findings from my project have helped identify ways of thinking about the pedagogical approaches and uses of technology that will make significant differences in the way faculty use available resources as well as the way students learn. It has promoted new research ideas that will assist in learning how to transform the Web from a back-up site for course information to integrating it as a mainstream tool for the classroom and in identifying which technologies promote learning goals most effectively so faculty can make good choices about which technology they should introduce into their courses.

Craig M. Ross
Associate Professor, Department of Recreation and Park Administration
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies
School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation

Indiana University's Scholarship of Teaching and Learning initiative has been a key influence in my teaching career. The initiative has helped me grow and develop as a scholar of teaching. I first became involved with SOTL in 1999 as a regular observer and participant in the keynote and toolbox sessions. There I learned from scholars of teaching about various pedagogical issues. In addition, I participated in an SOTL "jump-start" session, where participants were given information and resources about how to perform educational research in their classroom. These sessions encouraged me to methodically assess and evaluate my teaching.

I was a recipient of a 2000 SOTL active learning grant to examine the effects of Interactive Learning Exercises in my large lecture class (Anatomy A215). Beginning in the fall of 2000, I utilized these interactive learning exercises in class in order to increase active learning in lecture, increase student engagement and improve student performance measures. I found not only that these exercises improved student performance measures and student engagement, but also that students evaluated my teaching efforts even more highly. Many SOTL scholars at IU helped mentor me as I performed this pedagogical research and presented my findings as a keynote speaker during the 2001 SOTL sessions. During this keynote session, I spoke of myself as a "neophyte of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning," for I was just entering the SOTL arena.

Since that time, I have focused my research efforts on pedagogical issues. I have presented and published my educational research findings in several national forums. I have been able to mentor others who wish to become scholars of teaching. I have expanded my educational research efforts as well. The IU SOTL initiative gave me the guidance, resources and mentoring to allow me to become a scholar of teaching.

Valerie Dean O'Loughlin
Assistant Professor of Anatomy
Director of Undergraduate Human Anatomy
Medical Sciences

The SOTL initiative provided me with resources to conduct research in which I analyzed frequencies and patterns of feedback I have given to students in the Web-based distance master's degree program offered by my department. From this study, I learned that my feedback patterns in the online classroom were very different from what they were in the residential classroom environment. I presented my findings to a group of about 75 faculty members from across the university, and we discussed the implications of these patterns as well as possibilities for changing my instructional approach. The findings from this project and the dialogue with my colleagues helped me to make purposeful and intentional decisions about the kind of instructor I want to be, and I believe I am a better teacher as a result.

Barbara A. Bichelmeyer
Associate Professor, Instructional Systems Technology