SCHOLARLY ACTIVITY: NARRATIVE & SUPPORTING MATERIALS (15%)
Upon reflection, it is increasingly clear that my scholarly activity has come to be defined by the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). At its most fundamental level, SoTL is “Scholarly inquiry into student learning [that] advances the practice of teaching” (Ciccone, 2006, p.1). As Hutchings (2000) points out, SoTL is often most commonly contextualized within a scholarly taxonomy that honors multiple forms of inquiry and makes space for diverse approaches to research. Hutchings is also quick to remind us that “the scholarship of teaching and learning is deeply embedded in the discipline; its questions arise from the character of the field and what it means to know it deeply” (p.11). It is for these reasons that I believe my research agenda is, and will continue to be shaped, by the SoTL paradigm. It is a reflective form of scholarship that has, at its heart, the learner and the learning. All too often, it seems that research is about the scholar (and the amplification of their reputation). I have no interest in that. Rather, my work in SoTL and SURF, for example, reflect my commitment to the ideal - to know my discipline deeply and advance student learning therein.
In the spring of 2017, the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) accepted my proposal for a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) project, the working title for which is "Teachers are: Metaphorical representations of teaching as a vocation." The project was approved by the unversity's IRB under protocol #1400 and involves collecting data from several fall 2017 TED courses. Afterwards, I plan to present the work at an OPID conference as well as pursue furthering the research through the Wisconsin Teaching Fellows and Scholars (WTFS) program. See documents at right for more detailed information.
In the summer of 2017, I had the privilege of mentoring Ms. Madison Breisacher as the first Summer Undergraduate Research Scholar (SURF) from the Educational Leadership Department. Madison selected me as her SURF mentor and submitted her project proposal to the URSCA office, where it was enthusiastically approved and lauded for its originality and well-thought-out research framework. Madison and I worked to refine and shape her inquiry, which quickly became my passion. As her mentor, my name is attached to the research (see poster at right), though the credit certainly should go to Madison. It was a privilege to represent the department and I truly hope that this sort of scholarship will become less rare in the EDL department in the future. What I loved about working with Madison is that it became an informal case study in SoTL. In doing research with Madison, I came to understand so much more about our department and the students therein. As I told the Swenson family (primary donors for the SURF program), the benefit for me as a mentor was that it has informed my teaching. I am more likely to incorporate research work into my classes as a way to encourage the skill set - a skill set much needed in educational leadership in general.
In June of 2017, I had the privilege of delivering a commencement address - a first for me. Unpredictably, my message ended up receiving tens-of-thousands of views spread across multiple social media platforms (nearly 9,000 on Facebook alone). This experience brought about an interesting epiphany: the dissemination of scholarship - both written work and oral presentations - is experiencing a significant change. Whereas peer reviewed journals and conference acceptance were once the only benchmark, many academics now use clicks and views and shares and likes and webpage visits as the litmus test for whether or not their scholarship is meaningful. Perhaps this is what new scholarship looks like in the 21st century? Most academic and scholarly publications don't have the sort of readership that social media makes possible. And beyond that, I will tell you this from personal experience - peer review is far less scary than public review! With that said, a 14 minute portion of the address is provided at right and the "crux" of the entire 20 minute address is excerpted below:
"The world doesn’t need more wealthy people, but it does need more extraordinarily generous people. The world doesn’t need more busy people, it needs more patient people. The world doesn’t need more people who talk, but it does need more people who listen and act. The world might not even need more intelligent people, but it certainly needs more thoughtful people. The world doesn’t need more politics, it needs more advocates. The world doesn’t need more people who build walls, it needs more people who deconstruct them. We don’t need more beautiful people, we need more people who create beauty. We need peacemakers, we need healers, we need restorers, we need defenders, we need givers of time and resources. We need people who meet the deep hunger of this world with their gifts."
While perhaps too premature to mention, I am working on the first three chapters of a potential manuscript born from the excerpted portion of the commencement address above. The chapters, as presently outlined, seek to explore the ways in which the 2008 election gave rise to a political philosophy in younger students focused more on action than orthodoxy. Thus, I make the claim that 21st century academic institutions (particularly high schools) should revisit citizenship and character education as a way to both harness the power of this phenomenon as well as provide an informed scholastic framework for students.
Ongoing Research in the Service of the Department
Relative to my ongoing role in the Senior Year Experience (SYE), I continued to research the implications and perceptions of the the SYE redesign with our student teachers. Focus groups were conducted, as were surveys, and the results were compiled in an effort to further inform the execution of this particular High Impact Practice. Data is provided at right and has proven useful, most recently, for the purpose of our Academic Program Assessment Report.
Blog (Active & Ongoing)
In addition to the more formal scholarly activities, I maintain an active, ongoing internet presence via my blog, which can be found HERE. Topics include educational methods and educational philosophy, as well as anecdotal musings about school in general. I am able to track unique site visitors and observe what they are reading and viewing. I average a couple hundred visitors a month, most of whom read blog entries.
Ciccone, T. (2006). “Advancing the Practice of Teaching Through Inquiry into Student Learning.” Workshop Packet, OPID Faculty College.
Hutchings, P. (Ed.). (2000). Opening lines: approaches to the scholarship of teaching and learning. Menlo Park, CA: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.