Who, When, Where, Why, & How: Thoughts on SoTL Advocacy
As teachers and as researchers, we engage in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) for a variety of reasons. These reasons are valuable to us – individually — in terms of driving positive change in our students’ learning or in our own teaching praxis. Without doubt, these local changes influenced by outcomes from SoTL work are important. One might wonder, though, how results and information gathered from these SoTL studies are valued by stakeholders across institutions and disciplines. To date, strong and consistent advocacy for SoTL has been the mechanism for this transfer from local to broader audiences.
SoTL became an international, cross-disciplinary movement through the shared and dedicated advocacy of individuals and groups working to advance the profile and understanding of SoTL, its benefits, and its uses. While early advocacy has been effective in moving SoTL forward in a variety of ways (e.g., establishment of local and international SoTL societies, disciplinary SoTL awards, a wide variety of peer-review outlets for SoTL work), work is still needed. Indeed, advocacy for SoTL is necessary until the point when SoTL is clearly understood and valued across disciplines and institutions. SoTL advocacy starts with individual SoTL researchers and enthusiasts such as those at the SoTL Commons conference this week.
Understanding that we all have a potential role in SoTL advocacy, this keynote presentation is framed by five important questions focused on ideas and practices for veteran and novice SoTL researchers:
- Why is SoTL advocacy beyond the individual learning context necessary?
- Who should be involved as a stakeholder in SoTL advocacy efforts?
- When should SoTL advocacy be encouraged?
- Where does SoTL advocacy take place?
- How is effective SoTL advocacy accomplished?
Each question will be explored and discussed, with ideas for each member of the audience to take back to their own respective institutions and disciplines.
Retrieval-Based Learning: A Powerful Way to Improve Learning and Memory
Recent advances in the cognitive science of learning have important implications for strategies that all learners can use. For example, cognitive research has identified one strategy that promotes complex learning called retrieval practice: Practicing actively reconstructing one’s knowledge while studying has potent effects on long-term learning. Yet when people monitor and regulate their own learning, they often choose to engage in inferior strategies like repetitive reading, and the ultimate consequence is poor learning. This talk provides an overview of our research program on retrieval-based learning. In recent work, we have extended retrieval practice to meaningful learning of complex educational materials, converted existing classroom activities into retrieval-based activities, and developed new computer-based learning methods for implementing retrieval-based learning. Incorporating retrieval practice into educational activities is a powerful way to enhance learning.