August 20, 2009

Today was the second day of faculty workshops and today we had the great opportunity to have Diane Pike from Augsburg College speak to us on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL).  I enjoyed these workshops very much because it addresses my empirically driven approach to teaching and my own research program.  I found it very encouraging to see so many of my colleagues also show interest in this field of research. 

Morningside is a place that is nearly perfect to be conducting SoTL.  One colleague, Patrick McKinley, noted that we already have a few groups that are really ready-made collaboration groups on campus and that we as a faculty just need to take the next step to begin a more systematic approach to some of the questions that we have been asking each other and discussing for years. 

I also liked that Dr. Pike noted a distinction between doing scholarship of teaching and learning and being scholarly in one’s teaching.  The metaphor that she used to describe this was perfect.  In music there are conductors and there are performers.  Someone needs to create the music, and someone needs to actually perform the music.  Some of us want to and can do both, others can do only one or the other well.  However, there is a place for both individuals to make music what it is. 

I find myself being both a conductor and a performer.  I do not claim to be the best at doing both, but I do know that I am very intentional about how I teach my courses and I also conduct research in teaching and learning. 

I am very encouraged at the recent focus on SoTL in my field of study and within my own institution.  Teaching sessions at regional and national conferences are well attended and have good submissions, APA and APS give financial support for new faculty to travel to these conferences, Excellent teaching awards are awarded by both my professional organizations and my home institution, and today Morningside confirmed to me its support for this field of research though our workshops. 

Teaching will never be fully explained through research and science, but we can certainly help to improve this activity and to help dispel myths and poor practices through systematic research.

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