W2017 Lunch & Learn #1

This Tuesday, we launched the Lunch & Learns (L&L) for W2017! Over sandwiches, we introduced the RAPID Program’s W2017 Portfolio activity, outlined L&L topics, and dove into our first materials.

In this session, the goal was for RAs to reflect on the RAPID self-studies research question in relation to the guiding questions of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) and Educational Development (ED).

To begin, we outlined Dr. Nancy Chick’s four elements of SoTL (Chick, 2015):

  1. Asking meaningful questions about student learning, and about the teaching activities designed to facilitate student learning.
  2. Answering those questions by making relevant student learning visible to gather evidence of thinking and learning, and then systematically analyzing this evidence.
  3. Sharing the results publicly to invite peer review, and to contribute to broader bodies of knowledge on student learning.
  4. Aiming to improve student learning by strengthening the practice of teaching (one’s own and others’).

Then we asked: What kinds of questions might a SoTL approach ask? In Opening Lines: Approaches to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (2000), Pat Hutchings presents a taxonomy of four types of questions integral to SoTL research:

  • “What works?” questions. Seek “evidence about the effectiveness of different [teaching] approaches” (4).
  • “What is?” questions. Seek to describe (but not evaluate) the effectiveness of different teaching approaches, and how different students learn (4).
  • “Visions of the possible” questions. Ask about goals for teaching and learning that are yet to be met, are new to the faculty member asking the questions, or are innovative to teaching and learning in a specific discipline (5).
  • “Theory building” questions. Ask how to build theoretical frameworks for SoTL similar to frameworks used in other disciplines (5).

From here, we inquired into how Educational development (ED) creates the conditions supportive of learning and teaching (Leibowitz, 2014). We specificially drew on McDonald et al (2016: 8) definition of educational developers as sources of expertise in teaching, student learning and development, and change management on three levels:

  1. Group (faculties, departments, programs, etc.)
  2. Institutional (University of Calgary)
  3. Sector (higher education)

Once again, we asked ourselves what kinds of questions might this work ask. McDonald et al outline three key questions to educational development research. How do I…(adapted from McDonald et al, 2016: 8-9):

  1. …Document, reflect upon, and evaluate the effectiveness and impact of their practice?
  2. …Bridge disciplinary, teaching and learning center, and institutional contexts?
  3. …Trace career paths over time and assess ongoing professional development needs of themselves and others?

Split off into two groups.

  • Think back to the guiding questions for SoTL and ED. They are listed at each whiteboard to help you.
  • Discuss with each other to make note of: As RAs, what concepts, questions, or ideas come to mind as the most interesting to you?

The results were as follows:


  • Sharing results broadly = key
  • Improve student learning – is it really changing or is it still in the system of teaching?
  • Shifting lens from students (or only student learning) to practitioners/practitioners praxis, efficacy, etc.


  • Openness to change in general and reaching at those who might otherwise not come
  • Dissemination of knowledge and building community
  • Evaluation
  • Acting as a bridge


Chick, N. (2015). “A scholarly approach to teaching.” Retrieved from: http://sotl.ucalgaryblogs.ca/understanding-sotl/a-scholarly-approach-to-teaching/

Hutchings, P. (2000). “Introduction: Approaching the scholarship of teaching and learning.” In Opening Lines: Approaches to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. 1-10. Stanford: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Leibowitz, B. (2014). “Reflections on academic development: what is in a name?” In International Journal for Academic Development 19:4, 357-360, DOI:10.1080/1360144X.2014.969978

McDonald, J., Kenny, N., Kustra, E., Dawson, D., Iqbal, I., Borin, P., & Chan, J. (2016). Educational Development Guide Series: No. 1. The Educational Developer’s Portfolio. Ottawa, Canada: Educational Developers Caucus.


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