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Discussion – Keynote-Paper „The Evolution of WAC and SoTL“

Startseite Foren Diskussionsforum „Schreiblehrkonzepte an Hochschulen“ Discussion – Keynote-Paper „The Evolution of WAC and SoTL“

  • Dieses Thema hat 46 Antworten und 2 Teilnehmer, und wurde zuletzt aktualisiert vor 2 Monaten von Swantje Lahm.
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    • #1732 Antworten
      Frank Meyhöfer
      Verwalter

      Here we invite everybody to discuss what WAC and SoTL can learn from another based on the Keynote Paper by Paul Anderson and Peter Felten. Our keynote writers suggest the following questions for reflection:

      1. Could interest in WAC likely to be sustained and grow in Germany? SoTL? If so, how?
      2. What elements of or lessons from the development of WAC and SoTL in the US might be worth adapting in Germany, if any?
      3. At your university or for Germany as a whole, what should be next for WAC, SoTL, or both?
      4. Huber & Morreale (2002) maintain that SoTL has “disciplinary styles” that reflect and build on the expertise and research methodologies of the faculty who are inquiring into student learning. Most of the projects described in this conference’s papers appear to use general inquiry methods, not those of the author’s own discipline. Might WAC inquiries in German also have or develop “disciplinary styles” that allow for new or different forms of inquiry into writing and learning?

      Any other comments or ideas are welcome, too!

    • #1765 Antworten

      ad 1.
      The conditions for doing WAC and SoTL have been rather good during the last 7-8 years due to the Quality Pact for Teaching. When it ends the conditions to practice SoTL (in relation to WAC endeavors) will deteriorate. The next big thing is digital learning /online learning. WAC won’t be as interesting any more. Corona will speed up this development. I guess we are in one of these swings Peter and Paul mention in their paper.
      Nevertheless: Online-studying like it will be practiced now due to corona might go along with more writing assignments and written feedback to students‘ texts. (Fridrun and Mirjam have shown how this works on an internet based platform!) Maybe there are chances for WAC in this new phase. And all the beautiful data that comes into being on these online-platforms! Good for SoTL?!?

    • #1767 Antworten
      Swantje
      Gast

      Rike, I think that a lot of online communication is written communication. And generally: Being a good writer means being a good communicator – and this is especially important in online communication. Therefore I would like to see us as the writing community being engaged in discussions about digital teaching and learning, less with a focus on technology, but more on the quality of assignments.

    • #1769 Antworten
      Swantje
      Gast

      General comment to Peter and Pauls paper: FIRST – thank you! My question is: Could SoTL also profit from WAC by thinking more about ways of writing SoTL papers? To write these papers is extremely demanding. One notorious problem to succintly describe the teaching context and the goals. The information is so specific and often loaded with local vocabulary (platforms, modules, etc.) that readers easily get lost. Then: Since SoTL is open to so much disciplinary variation and styles, there is (is there?) a lack of common language generally. Also the structures of text vary. This can all be interpreted as wonderful diversity and richness and it is. At the same time, it is easy to get lost in details. At least that was something I observed reading the papers on this site.

    • #1770 Antworten

      ad 2.
      My first impulse: We probably have gone through some of these phases already. I find the idea to teach disciplinary ways of thinking, working and writing very important. The Decoding the Disciplines approach may go along with WAC. I’ve profited a lot from it since I got to know it early on in the Bielefeld QPL-Programm Getting started/richtig einsteigen Litkom 2012/2013. My teaching in my function as a lecturer of history has changed through it. And my understanding of history (the scholarship of history) has developed as well. The early Bielefeld writing center work was not discipline-specific. We taught a lot of useful things concerning the process of writing a research paper at university. Now we do much more work making students aware of how writing in their discipline is done and support them to do this themselves.

    • #1772 Antworten

      ad 3.
      For me personally it will be both: WAC and SoTL (Depending on what kind of position I will have after the end of the Quality Pact.) I feel that colleagues from the history department are respectful against publications on teaching writing in the disciplines. And publishing the ways I have taught certain seminars and the observations I have made doing it gives colleagues something they can (at least could) read without necessarily having to ask. (Maybe some really do read the stuff?)

    • #1773 Antworten
      kerrin
      Gast

      ad4.
      as a natural scientist I think a lot of doing SoTL in a disciplinary style is quite challenging. Maybe the way one looks at the (teaching-)problem: in Chemistry for instance one might hadle it as an experiment. So this might help for the attitude but for conducting the inquiry you need the methods of the empirical research which need getting used to.

    • #1775 Antworten
      Ingrid Stock
      Gast

      You mention in question 4: „Most of the projects described in this conference’s papers appear to use general inquiry methods, not those of the author’s own discipline. Might WAC inquiries in German also have or develop “disciplinary styles” that allow for new or different forms of inquiry into writing and learning?“

      I am not sure if I understand this question in the right way. Could you expand on it, giving specific examples of «new or different forms of inquiry into writing and learning»?

    • #1779 Antworten
      kerrin
      Gast

      yes indeed I can underline that – we are just in exchange in the German SoTL community about the writings styles of the SoTL papers – especially here the chanllenge ist writing in the disciplinary styles so that also people from other disciplines do understand.

    • #1782 Antworten
      Nora Hoffmann
      Gast

      Something I was wondering about while reading the keynote: I thought WAC meant facilitating writing and did not automatically imply that methods were also made an object of research. So, as far as I understood the connection between WAC and SoTL before reading the keynote, doing research on WAC is a part of SoTL, as WAC is a part of teaching and learning. Am I wrong there? Is WAC always connected with inquiry, or does it also exist in an only practical way?
      A second though: As long as we want to use our research for improving our teaching of writing, I agree, that all methods of all disciplines may be helpful for gaining new knowledge. But we do this research not only for this purpose, but also to argue for our existence as writing centers and the relevance of supporting students in learning to write. To convince university management and educational policy, I guess we will need professionally conducted empirical research, which unfortunately only very few of us can provide.

    • #1783 Antworten
      Andrea Karsten
      Gast

      ad 4.
      One thing that struck me when I read the keynote paper was the idea of disciplinary styles in SoTL. In fact, my impression so far has been – and this is now sort of confirmed in the 4th question above – that many teachers use more general inquiry methods.
      My question may be naive: In order to study learning, not all research methodologies seem suitable to me (e.g. physisists‘ methodologies). On the other hand, not all teachers can „just like that“ use methodologies from the social and educational sciences or other disciplines that are maybe more suited to study social interaction. The outcome may be really poor research, judged from the view of disciplines that have more expertise in these methodologies.
      So, what could be the solution? Maybe I am overlooking something? But to mee it seems like a big dilemma.

      • #1796 Antworten

        @ Andrea Karsten: I have also felt insecure about the methodology of doing SoTL, of doing research on my teaching how to read scholarly texts analytically and critically. It seems to me it is learning by doing. And it is helpful to reflect the quality of the „data“ we have with others who have done work in this field. And so I get feedback and hints for literatur that I should refer to. And so we learn! Also discussing the „data“ and questions of method with colleagues from the Bielefeld Litkom-Team was helpful. Just hands on, I guess, is the way to do it?!

    • #1784 Antworten
      Luis Schäfer
      Gast

      ad 3: From my perspective, over the last years different institutions like Writing Centers were created, but they were normally funded by projects that were temporally limited. A lot of these projects now end, so it seems necessary to refund the WAC institutions and to stabalize them.

    • #1785 Antworten
      Nils Cordes
      Gast

      It may be that many projects of this meeting use „general inquiry“ methods, but overall I would agree with Huber & Morreale (2002). I think they are right. For me at least, my SoTL approach was completely dependent on my statistical skills from analyzing empirical data, whereas many of qualitative analyzes here I would not even have had a clue how to start with.

    • #1788 Antworten
      Luis Schäfer
      Gast

      @Nora Hoffmann: I agree totally on your second thought (there is a need ofconducted empirical research in order to convince university management). And I also see the problem, that just „a few of us“ are skilled in that field – so think the key could be networking like it is starting at that very moment at this conference and starting projects including more than one university. The results than could be used in bigger contexts.

    • #1789 Antworten

      @ Nora: To bring together WAC and SoTL is something we are doing in this conference. I understand Peter and Paul in this way: that both haven’t cooperated very much so far. In my understanding SoTL aims mainly at improving (one’s own) teaching. One other functions of evaluation is to legitimize for example writing center work. Tobias Schmohl is a German expert on SoTL. He has talked about differnt goals connected with evaluation of teaching and work of HE institutions some months ago.

    • #1790 Antworten
      Luis Schäfer
      Gast

      ad 2 / @Frederike Neumann
      I agree on the developments you mentioned. But still I think it is necessary to maintain structures and courses that mix students of different disciplines: I think we all can learn more in a contrastive way and even enhance the writing in our own discipline.

    • #1792 Antworten
      Andrea Karsten
      Gast

      @Nora, @Luis Schäfer: Do we really have to follow that trend to do „empirical research“ if its not our expertise? Shouldn’t we stick to our strengths then? For example, analyzing interaction between people, reflecting on discourse etc.?

    • #1793 Antworten
      Marina
      Gast

      I just remember a long discussion in a Litkom meeting on SOTL and empirical research. There are very different opinions depending on the professional perspective.

    • #1794 Antworten
      Andrea Karsten
      Gast

      After all, empirical research in the way university management requests it (measuring impact quantitatively, right?) is just ONE scholarly practice. To choose one practice, to request one practice – isn’t this a question of power relations and of positioning oneself within these power relations? Especially from a writing center perspective…

    • #1795 Antworten
      Nora Hoffmann
      Gast

      @Andrea: In my experience empirical research is the most effective way to convince people (teachers, whom I want to win for cooperation as well as university management) that our work is necessary and helpful. I do not think that all of us should only do empirical research and that this is the one „right“ way, but I would be glad if experts in empirical research would make our work an object of their projects and I am also always glad to cooperate with them.

    • #1797 Antworten
      Nils Cordes
      Gast

      Regarding WAC and SoTL: To me, WAC is a frame of mind or a curriculum design philosophy. SoTL is a tool to evaluate either oneself or a curriculum. So where the two meet is during curriculum design, which at some level it feels we are all part of.

      When Peter and Paul say „most WAC activities are SoTL projects whose questions concern writing“ it makes it clear that one is a tool that helps to arrive at the other. In other words: SoTL is needed for proper WAC planning.

    • #1798 Antworten
      Peter Felten
      Gast

      Thanks for the many thoughtful comments and questions here. I’ll respond first about disciplinary styles.

      The issue of „disciplinary styles“ is challenging, as some of you have explained. My sense is that there might be disciplinary styles in (1) asking questions, (2) research methodologies, and (3) ways to use and go public with findings. Some disciplines (such as physics) might struggle to use their research methods in SoTL research, but physicists still might productively have certain ways of asking SoTL questions (questions that matter a lot to learning/teaching in their discipline) and perhaps also have established disciplinary styles of going public with their findings (in physics journals or in posters at conferences). But physics faculty might want or need to collaborate with either STEM education specialists or others outside their discipline to develop appropriate research methods to answer their SoTL questions.

    • #1799 Antworten
      Swantje lahm
      Gast

      I would like to bring up the point I made earlier and hope it gets some reactions: Could SoTL also profit from WAC by thinking more about ways of writing SoTL papers? To write these papers is extremely demanding. One notorious problem to succintly describe the teaching context and the goals. The information is so specific and often loaded with local vocabulary (platforms, modules, etc.) that readers easily get lost. Then: Since SoTL is open to so much disciplinary variation and styles, there is (is there?) a lack of common language generally. Also the structures of text vary. This can all be interpreted as wonderful diversity and richness and it is. At the same time, it is easy to get lost in details. At least that was something I observed reading the papers on this site.

    • #1800 Antworten
      kerrin
      Gast

      but empirical research does not convince everyone at once (e.g. the formost mentioned physicist) here we have to do a lot of work for an evidence based argument

    • #1802 Antworten
      Andrea Karsten
      Gast

      @Swantje: Have you got yourself any preliminary ideas how SoTL could profit from WAC? I think your question is really, really interesting. I would also love to hear more ideas.

    • #1804 Antworten
      Erhan Simsek
      Gast

      To be able to answer the questions in the first thread, we need a better understanding of the German educational system and its disciplinary traditions I think. That is, we need more „decoding“ both on the layer of disciplines (how do chemists or historians write?) and higher education institutions (why is Hausarbeit such a big deal? or why is there a focus on longer papers than shorter essays?) in general.

      3. At your university or for Germany as a whole, what should be next for WAC, SoTL, or both?

      Our next step could be a better understanding of what we are trying to change. For one thing, Germany has a long academic tradition, which is still visible in many departments and which can interestingly hamper student learning. When it comes to teaching, this tradition manifests itself in the form of implicitness — implicit structures that students attempt to decode through solitary attempts. SoTL and WAC research in the German context can contribute to this process of decoding the disciplines and the higher education system in general.

    • #1808 Antworten
      Tyll Zybura
      Gast

      I agree with Andrea: My own SoTL (in the sense: inquiry into my teaching, reflecting/adapting my mindsets and behaviours as a teacher, training myself to communicate with students in certain ways, communicating my practices to colleagues) is motivated by philosophical convictions and political activism, and my medium is proudly essayistic and anecdotal – if that doesn’t convince the people who feel addressed by my writing, I don’t really care, because I myself have a deep epistemological distrust of empirical methods in the humanities, so there … 😉

    • #1805 Antworten
      Peter Felten
      Gast

      A lot has been written recently in English about the challenge of writing in SoTL. Some of that might be useful to you, including:

      1. Writing Scholarship of Teaching and Learning articles for peer-reviewed journals, https://journalhosting.ucalgary.ca/index.php/TLI/article/view/57600 (note: this article currently is being developed into a book that will be published in July 2020)

      2. Legitimating reflective writing in SoTL: “Dysfunctional Illusions of Rigor” revisited, https://journalhosting.ucalgary.ca/index.php/TLI/article/view/57571

      One additional way WAC and SoTL might come together is for WAC experts (like all of you) to use your WAC expertise to help your faculty colleagues develop the writing skills and confidence necessary to write about their teaching and learning.

    • #1801 Antworten
      Peter Felten
      Gast

      On the issue of writing SoTL: Yes! Many faculty in the US struggle to write up and publish their SoTL research. Sometimes the problem is the difficulty in finding a suitable journal to publish their work (although that is becoming less of a problem over time in the US). More often, faculty are trained to write in their disciplines, and writing about learning/teaching may not be easy or possible using the disciplinary genres and conventions they learned in their training. For example, as a historian I learned to never use pronouns (particularly „I“ or „my“) in scholarly writing, but that makes it *very* difficult to write about my course and my students!

      Recently quite a lot has been written in English about writing in SoTL. Some of this might be helpful to you; for example:

      1. Writing Scholarship of Teaching and Learning articles for peer-reviewed journals, https://journalhosting.ucalgary.ca/index.php/TLI/article/view/57600

      2. Legitimating reflective writing in SoTL: “Dysfunctional Illusions of Rigor” revisited, https://journalhosting.ucalgary.ca/index.php/TLI/article/view/57571

    • #1811 Antworten
      Swantje Lahm
      Gast

      @Andrea: I don’t have solutions, unfortunately. But I do think a discussion about „disciplinary styles of writing SotL“ is as necessary as thinking about disiciplinary methodological styles. The topics are of course intertwined. I wish there was a paper „How to write a good SoTL“ paper which adresses the multiplicity of audiences, choice of genre (empirical, anecdotal, etc.), goals and other choices we have. It should not be prescriptive, but systematize what possibilities exist. @ Peter and Paul: Do you any literature about that?

    • #1812 Antworten
      Swantje Lahm
      Gast

      @ Peter: Thank you for the literature suggestions!

    • #1813 Antworten
      kerrin
      Gast

      I do can recommend the paper Peter already mentioned by Healey, Matthews and Cook-Sather – very bottom down

    • #1814 Antworten
      Elke Langelahn
      Gast

      [Swantje: The information is so specific and often loaded with local vocabulary (platforms, modules, etc.) that readers easily get lost. Then: Since SoTL is open to so much disciplinary variation and styles, there is (is there?) a lack of common language generally. Also the structures of text vary.]
      Isn’t it a question of who my reader is and in which journal I’ll public my text? Writing for a discipline-specific journal then means that I can give more detailed, discipline-specific information, when writing for a more general journal I have to adjust to the addressees, respectively. Or do I think too simple?

    • #1815 Antworten
      Swantje Lahm
      Gast

      ad 1: One problem I see is that we don’t have to convince faculty only, but also the administration. Two sometimes very different audiences. Our chancelor sees the writing center as a service unit. He is not interested at all that we are engaged in professional dialogue – in spoken or in written form. I would even think, that there is no assumption that professional competence is needed at all in what we do. In this respect we are extremely far away from SoTL. For us as pracitioners there is constant weighing up between what is most important: more practical work or time for scholarly reflection. I wish these two things were not opposites, but often they are. @Peter and Paul: You may have mentioned that, but is there some evidence that SoTL improves teaching practice?

    • #1816 Antworten
      Tyll Zybura
      Gast

      Thanks so much for the link to the second article – it’s great to have you here as an expert! 🙂

    • #1817 Antworten
      Peter Felten
      Gast

      @Elke’s point is a good one. Choosing the right journal is very important in SoTL. That won’t solve all of the writing challenges that @Swantje mentions, but it will simplify your writing when you really know your audience.

    • #1818 Antworten
      Peter Felten
      Gast

      @Swantje: The best evidence in the US that SoTL improves teaching practice and student learning actually comes from a longitudinal WAC study at two institutions. This study is published as:
      William Condon, Ellen R. Iverson, Cathryn A. Manduca, Carol Rutz and Gudrun Willett, Faculty Development and Student Learning: Assessing the Connections (Indiana University Press, 2016)

      That study makes a very compelling case that SoTL-active faculty contribute to enhance student learning in both critical thinking and writing (the two focus areas of the study).

    • #1819 Antworten
      Ingrid Stock
      Gast

      @Swantje: yes, that would be helpful. One important point, I think, are the intended audiences, what kind of readers would SoTL researchers like to address, teachers and researchers in their own field? Then, the own familiar disciplinary style might be most recognizable for the readers? On the other hand, I agree with your point regarding „common language“, it’s often difficult to get access to the main points of a paper/contribution because of various „languages“ and terms, and structures of papers.

    • #1820 Antworten
      Raoul Hippchen
      Gast

      Our next step could be a better understanding of what we are trying to change.

      I fully agree with Erhan on this (and also on the implicitness of some of the rules of german academic practice being a potential „barrier“ for students). Talking to colleagues and hearing about their perspectives, the motivations for an interest in SoTL are very diverse, ranging from fundamental frustration with the educational system and/or „traditional teaching“ to a wish to develop personally as a teacher etc. Of course, the „big picture“ and the single teacher/class are dependent on one another. However, it seems important to discuss such goals and their starting points – beyond „everything should just get better“ 🙂

    • #1821 Antworten
      Peter Felten
      Gast

      @Ingrid and @Swantje: One thing that has to helped with this challenge is that our teaching center and our WAC program co-host an annual Writing Residency for faculty who are doing SoTL. This 4-day writing retreat gives faculty focused time and peer-feedback to write up a SoTL article. Over the past 14 years, we have seen literally dozens and dozens of SoTL articles published out of this Writing Residency, many by faculty who had not published in SoTL before. Here’s a description of the Residency: https://www.elon.edu/u/academics/catl/sotl/writing-residency/

      If you’d like, I also could send some articles we have written about the Residency as a WAC/faculty development initiative.

    • #1822 Antworten
      Jantje Witt
      Gast

      Here a bit different thought/different perspective I had while reading the keynote and the discussion that I really like to share. When I was thinking about “what is next for my university” I was wondering about the following (also, Nils mentioned it in a comment on the keynote, p. 40):
      While participating in a lot of meetings about the Quality Management (iQM) at the University of Bielefeld within the last year, I was wondering why there is so much effort into “manage something” but not half as much effort into “quality”. I really love to improve my teaching and it is inspiring to see how new methods, ideas, contents help students learn, deepen their knowledge. Nevertheless, in the system university, between all the managing, there is so less space for this joy about improving the quality of teaching.

    • #1831 Antworten
      Swantje Lahm
      Gast

      @ Jantje: This is an important point. From what I know in the US there has been more collaboration between WAC and SoTL initiatives and „quality management“. At Elon for example the university has totally focused on improving writing as part of their „Quality Enhancement Plan“. Am I right, Peter and Paul? Maybe you could elaborate?

    • #1832 Antworten
      Nils Cordes
      Gast

      there is so less space for this joy about improving the quality of teaching

      Such a beautiful way to put it. 😉 Yes, for the majority of the teachers, there is little space to improve work on something they enjoy, and speaking from experience, most of my colleagues do enjoy teaching a class with engaged students. It is a systemic issue that I wish was more explicitly addressed in our new quality management positions, but as you said, as of right now it’s more focused on „management“.

    • #1834 Antworten
      Peter Felten
      Gast

      Yes, @Swantje, our Quality Enhancement Plan focuses on writing across the university, and it has supported faculty in doing WAC and SoTL research. Here’s some information about that work: https://www.elon.edu/u/academics/writing-excellence/ I could send more information if you’d like.

    • #1835 Antworten
      Peter Felten
      Gast

      Thank you to everyone for your comments and questions and ideas. I have learned a lot!

    • #1837 Antworten
      Swantje Lahm
      Gast

      Dear Conference Participants, this was a wonderful first day! We are looking forward to the comments and discussions tomorrow!
      Swantje

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