Building a Productive, Supportive Cohort During COVID-19: SoTL Institute Outcomes

By Jennifer Stanigar and Maria Gallardo-Williams

Teaching faculty in institutions of higher education are expected to present and publish in scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) or discipline-based educational research (DBER). However, most faculty members don’t have prior training in doing this type of research, and might struggle to excel in this task. Last year, the Office for Faculty Excellence (OFE) launched the virtual SoTL Institute to support faculty as they turned their educational innovation into tangible scholarship.

The SoTL Institute was offered online in the Summer of 2020 with the theme of interdisciplinary collaboration. Seventeen participants from six colleges across NC State were selected through a competitive process and given a mini-stipend to support their research. A majority of the group consisted of Teaching Assistant Professors, with other roles represented from postdoctoral scholars to full professors. The program topics were: Introduction to SoTL/DBER, Overview of the Research Process, and Refining Your Educational Research Study.

Pie charts of faculty participants in SOTL Institute

Faculty wrote a mini-proposal over the summer, and gathered data in the fall semester. The group met twice a semester to check in and participate in writing retreats. These were opportunities for community and dedicated writing time. Participants who completed the Institute requirements presented findings during the 20-21 academic year.

Ten SoTL Institute participants presented at the Lilly Conference in December 2020 and six presented at the Lilly Conference in May 2021. All 14 projects were presented as posters at the Office for Faculty Excellence Teaching and Learning Symposium on February 28, 2021.

The 2020 cohort of SoTL researchers are actively extending their work through submission of conference proposals, manuscripts and blogs. OFE is building a SoTL Community of Practice, beginning in Fall 2021 with SoTL topics woven through other OFE programs.

The SoTL Institute supports and mentors faculty who are new to teaching research while lowering the barriers to publishing and presenting. This program brings faculty together from across disciplines to be part of a supportive, productive community of educational researchers.

Check out these posters from the Teaching and Learning Symposium held in February 2021.

Published in SOTL.