This strand of the SoTL Network aims to support staff to undertake and disseminate their own scholarly projects on teaching and learning. It is based around a peer-supported “Writing Group” format, together with content designed to address the following questions:
Our next SoTL Writing Group will take place online via Zoom on Wednesday 29 June, 09.30-10.30 am.
The group meets termly and aims to support staff who teach and support student learning to develop a scholarship strand to their work.
In addition to providing space to discuss your SoTL work/interests, in this session we will be looking at how you can select the right SoTL research method for your project.
Whether you are just starting out, have a draft of an article ready to submit, or are somewhere in between, come along and join us for peer and Academic Practice support to help move your SoTL project to the next stage.
Sign up and receive the link via the Google Form.
SoTL Types and Methods: a brief introduction to the types of investigation published in SoTL and common methodologies adopted.
Journals for Undertaking SoTL: a list of peer-reviewed publications in the area of SoTL which you might consider approaching, both disciplinary focused and more general.
We have a SoTL Subject Guide which focuses specifically on Higher Education and includes information on key research databases.
For journal rankings we recommend the Scimago Journal and Country Rank (SJR) site, with the category search limited to "Education," which will also direct you to the site for each journal.
We have also downloaded a list version of SJR data set to enable searches for disciplinary specific education journals and including links to some of the larger journal publishers that we subscribe to. This list includes journals on all stages of education and is not exhaustive. We will be aiming to develop this resource.
York already has a rich culture of sharing practice in HE teaching and learning, often operating at departmental level, but also institutionally through Forum and the annual Learning and Teaching Conference. The Education department at York includes academic experts working within HE contexts, with individuals investigating inequalities in higher education (access, the student experience and outcomes) and higher education policy as part of the Centre for Research into Education and Social Justice (CRESJ); inter- and transcultural communication in Higher Education in the context of internationalisation, working jointly with the Centre for Research in Language Learning and Use(CReLLU) and the former Centre for English Language Teaching (CELT); and HE pedagogy in the sciences within the University of York Science Education Group. Disciplinary scholarship continues to underpin our teaching and is explicitly accommodated in role descriptions for staff on Teaching and Scholarship contracts. In line with sectoral trends, there is a growing interest across the institution in developing students as researchers, with a number of departments exploring initiatives to support and develop students’ independent research skills.
This SoTL resource aims to complement this existing activity by supporting staff who wish to develop pedagogical scholarship specific to their own practice, whatever their primary discipline. Although in practice SoTL Network members’ interests tend to span, and indeed blur the line between, HE Research and Pedagogical Scholarship, the purpose of this resource is to support staff who may be less familiar with research materials and methodologies specific to investigating effective teaching and learning in Higher Education, or who are looking to reframe their disciplinary research skills to this topic. It is also aimed at supporting colleagues undertaking research projects for the SoTL module on the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP) and Action Research projects through the York Professional and Academic Development (YPAD) scheme.
If you would like to receive notifications about SoTL Network activities, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up to our mailing list through our Google Form. You can also join our SoTL SLACK channel to connect with the SoTL community at York and find out more about SoTL opportunities.
There are a number of reasons why you may wish to consider publishing work in the field of teaching and learning, and it is worth thinking about which of these apply to you.
Firstly and perhaps most obviously, publication concretises the ephemeral. Innovative practice and worthwhile investigations into the practice of teaching and learning should not be lost. Publication is one means of circulating knowledge beyond an immediate context or event: “the life and impact of SoTL projects are often analogous to those of a wildflower, which suddenly bursts into full and striking bloom, delights those in the immediate neighbourhood for a brief period of time, then fades rapidly and disappears” (Haigh, 2012: 20). Writing up and disseminating such projects increases the likelihood of their longevity and impact.
Secondly there is the argument, again long-rehearsed in relation to SoTL, of publishing with an eye on recognition and promotion. Here, publication in relation to teaching and learning plays a similar role to that of subject-based research: “as universities increasingly recognize the value of diversity in the roles of academic staff, so the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning […] has become one of the ways in which teaching staff can be rewarded through promotion” (Vardi and Quin, 2011: 39). There is perhaps a false equivalence in comparing the two, but it is also true to say that publication can play a part in substantiating a profile as a departmental expert in teaching and learning and hence assist in career progression.
Thirdly, there are the developmental arguments. Reflecting on teaching practice via publications helps to order our thoughts in relation to that practice and consider ways in which particular successful interventions or developments may be continued or extended, while also aiding in our own professional development as educators. CPD of this nature may also be a practical consideration. Practitioners aligning themselves to the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF), for example, are expected to engage “in continuing professional development in subjects/disciplines and their pedagogy, incorporating research, scholarship and the evaluation of professional practices,” and, as a professional value, to use “evidence-informed approaches and the outcomes from research, scholarship and continuing professional development” (HEA, Guild HE and UUK, 2011).
Dissemination of scholarship can be achieved via a variety of means and formats. Presenting at or engaging with conferences and symposia represents one route, while social media, podcasts and the like represents another. Either of these routes to dissemination tend to offer relatively quick turnarounds and can put you in touch directly with an interested audience for your work. Both routes also can be pursued within the institution and externally; as you develop your ideas you will want to consider which route best suits you at which times.
The other main route to dissemination is publication, normally in the form of a journal article, book chapter or longer form piece (though obviously other formats are available). The timescale for work of this nature is generally longer. You will want to consider which of the many publication options you wish to pursue, and there are a number of factors to think about in placing work with given journals and publishers. A key decision for those of us writing in the scholarship of teaching and learning is whether to engage in discipline-specific or cross-disciplinary work; generally speaking publications in teaching and learning will tend to face one or the other of these to some degree. Other considerations to bear in mind may include the timescales of a particular publication, whether or not it is peer-reviewed and the review process generally, the prestige or impact factors associated with particular journals or publishers, the particular editorial staff involved, and the methodological or theoretical approaches of specific outlets. Thinking strategically, there is perhaps an additional question of the level of competition associated with particular publications (the ‘top’ journals in the field commonly reject up to three quarters of submissions).
With any type of dissemination, perhaps the best place to start is to look at the types of work already occurring in particular outlets (whether recurring conferences, journals, or anything else) and think about which areas would most productively line up with your own ideas and concerns.
We maintain a list, for reference, of some of the more common outlets worth consideration: Journals for Undertaking SoTL.
Internal University of York funding has historically been available for teaching and learning projects, eg through the rapid response and strategic funds. Current opportunities will be advertised as they become available: Initiatives and funding.
Society for Research into Higher Education. Offers small individual and cooperative grants. Depending upon the award you may be required to become a member of the society (eg £10k research awards currently require membership, while £5,000 scoping awards do not).
Staff and Educational Development Association. Offers small grants on a periodic basis (normally opening in November). Application for grants requires institutional membership (York is currently a member). The Research and Evaluation Small Grants stream offers five awards of up to £1,000, with one reserved for a ‘developing researcher’.
Advance HE offers small grants on a periodic basis (though you can register interest at any point). The Good Practice Grants stream is relatively flexible, offering £100 to £4,000 depending on the format. Advance HE also advertises invitations to tender for larger scale projects, though these require significant expertise in the given area.
The Society for Educational Studies offers small grant awards, which in the past have been linked to the theme of its annual colloquium.