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Thursday, June 19 • 4:00pm - 4:30pm
CON8.12 – Threshold Concepts and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (Room A239)

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The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is an important international movement, which contributes to the quality of teaching and learning in higher education, as well as to a growing body of educational literature (Hubball, Pearson, & Clarke, 2013). With a focus on student learning in diverse educational contexts, SoTL encompasses a broad set of practices that engage educational leaders in examining curriculum and pedagogy in a methodical and rigorous way (Glassick, Huber, & Maeroff, 1997; Hutchings, Huber, & Ciccone, 2011). Providing a literature informed, peer reviewed justification for program and policy changes, SoTL is a practical and complementary undergirding for research in teaching and learning. However, many institutions lack internal SoTL expertise to effectively develop and evaluate curriculum and pedagogical practices (Hubball, Lamberson, & Kindler, 2012). There is a need for better and more integrated theoretical work in designing SoTL programs (Gurung & Schwartz, 2010; Hutchings, 2007; Kandlbinder & Peseta, 2009). Recent studies illustrate that threshold concepts have proved useful for initiating cross-disciplinary discourses (Carmichael, 2010), acting as a starting place for curriculum making (Carmichael, 2012).

The purpose of this session is to share recent research conducted to identify the threshold concepts in SoTL in order to (re) consider how educational leaders approach the SoTL and engage the audience in conversation around the areas of engagement and key challenges that they face as they begin work/study in the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Theorization in threshold concepts (Meyer & Land, 2003; 2005; 2006) works as a lens with which to investigate SoTL and as a frame to consider curriculum for SoTL programs.  Focusing on the ‘stuck places’ in SoTL programs, this research considers the experience of faculty members previously and currently enrolled in a SoTL program at a research-intensive university in Canada. Semi-structured responsive interviews (Rubin & Rubin, 2005) were conducted with 10 current SoTL program members and 20 past graduates to explore their experience of learning the ways of thinking and practicing SoTL. These interviews revealed a variety of troublesome concepts and coping strategies to navigate within a liminal space. In preliminary analysis, potential threshold concepts include the challenging epistemic shift required when designing and conducting SoTL research in an educational frame, the uncertainty of working across disciplinary boundaries, and the openness of participants’ to make their teaching public.

In light of the potential institutional benefits afforded by the adoption of SoTL for pedagogical and curricular investigations, an understanding of SoTL that includes threshold concepts will help to facilitate the requisite cultural shift within departments and institutions. And yet, the troublesome nature of threshold concepts in SoTL provokes the uncomfortable, liminal spaces that are a feature of learning to do SoTL. It is hoped that participants at this session engage in rethinking their SoTL experience and consider the troublesome nature of aspects of enculturation into scholarship in teaching and learning; how do we develop and support SoTL scholars?


Thursday June 19, 2014 4:00pm - 4:30pm EDT
A239 McArthur Hall

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