I found it really difficult to get started with the Scholar module. I had heard of SoTL in the past and had explored some aspects of it through reading and research. I liked the idea of some systematic approach to trying to improve some aspect of your practice and following that up to see if it actually worked. I would describe the approach as a spiral that may loop around but does represent movement forward. Articulating a working definition was a way to step into the Scholar module.
I did get stuck on the idea of amateur SoTL work for a short time. I am still not sure why that is such a bad thing. If we have this idea that only professionals (who ever that may be) can participate in SoTL how does that fit in with the idea of co-creating with students who would be amateurs or apprentices of learning? So, upon reflection, I have decide to reject the idea that there is some danger to be had from amateur work in SoTL and leave that for others to debate.
At this point in my work on the Scholar module, I did find myself drawing upon past research, readings and professional development. I find that happens more often where things am exposed to don’t immediately connect but do roll around in my head and start to line up where the connections become clear.
Before moving on to the next Extend Activity, I need to set a foundation for my thinking and demonstrate how I landed on staying small and selecting an aspect of Tutor Training to build a research question around. Focusing in on exploring a modeling technique for Math tutoring is a practical way to try SoTL in the field I am working. Part of my process was to do some further reading about models such as Model-Coach-Fade and the theoretical background on Cognitive Apprenticeship.
Before finalizing my plans, I would continue to read around this topics and add it active learning activity opinions in addition to my role-playing idea. I enjoy reading around topics, starting with a few key terms to find some new sources and then finding new terms in those readings that may take me elsewhere. Sometimes I use the snowball technique as well. If you are not familiar with that term, it is the idea of using the reference list of one article to find the next article you read.
My next steps was to answer the SoTL questions about my research. It is dry reading but there is a nice cat picture included.
I ended with a somewhat salty post expressing my frustration on a couple of levels with the Scholar module and my thoughts about ethical concerns. This was probably the most fun post to write as it was a chance to get it all out and on paper (screen?) so to speak. Thank you, David Porter, for reading it and offering encouragement:
You’re doing great. Hard questions often lead us to reflect and pivot our thinking. That’s ok.
My last step for the Scholar Module is to select an image to illustrate the direction I plan to go with my SoTL research. This will not be my last step for the research because the plan is to actually do the research, but that may need to wait for the Fall. I will ask the faculty lead from the Centre for Academic Excellence at my college to review my plan in addition to gaining approval from my Director, Cindy Crump.
So what direction do I plan to go? Upward and onward, right after I put on my fancy big girl boots and my determined face!
AHHHHHH! I want to scream out the backdoor and shake my fist in the air!! Maybe it is just me but the Scholar Module is tough! Actually, wait, it is just me!! Please, other Extenders, do not give up on the Scholar Module because I am having a tough time getting my head around it. Here’s why:
As a faculty member who has working exclusively in Student Services for the past 11 years (in August), I don’t have a course or a classroom to work with. This has made figuring out a suitable SoTL research project a bit more challenging. However, through our ExtendWest Lunch dates with @Cogdog, I have found both support and inspiration. It was at one of the Zoom discussions that Alan suggested I stay small and focused on one thing. That helped me narrow down to one aspect of our Tutor Training that I wanted to improve. I also want to give a shout out to Danny who said he thought I was determined! Thank you, I am determined and that compliment helped to push me to continue!
It is scary to practice out loud like this. I have created a few posts about the Scholar Module and my ideas for SoTL and there is a part of me that is afraid someone will come along and question “What on earth is this woman doing??” It is risky and uncomfortable. I would rather just be right all the time and only show things in a perfectly finished product that is sure to get approving nods! Heh, like life is really ever like that!
Right now, I am giving myself permission to make mistakes, to put out work that is unfinished and maybe even completely wrong. And I am giving myself permission to say – I don’t get it and this is hard! Why? Because I have worked in Student Services for the past 11 years and have been the faculty advisor for tutoring services and have seen so many scared and frustrated students walk through the door thinking that they are stupid because they don’t get it and they think it is hard… AND that is it so easy for everyone else. I think that when I look at the Extend Activities that others have posted. I only see the end results and they all sound so smart and it looks like it was easy. I am going to bet that it wasn’t alway easy for them either!
If you are struggling with any of the modules, I hope you find this and know that you are not alone!
So, continuing on with my post, no course, no classroom, this is hard, AND I have no idea if I could publish the results, or if anyone would be interested in them and finally, who, exactly, am I studying?
First, can I publish the results? I can do the research project because it is looking at improving a process of training that we do for tutors. I have done similar work to examine our processes in order to improve quality and have checked with our research office and did not have to apply for permission or present to the Reseach Ethics Committee. We do other surveys for student satisfaction with tutoring for our own quality control where the surveys are both anonymous and voluntary. The trick is, we don’t publish results outside our department and upper management. It all stays in-house. The guidelines seem to indicate that when the results will be published, permission from the committee in addition to immediate manager approval is needed. However, we are now in vacation time and I can’t begin the process of checking if permission is needed if I am only writing up the results on my personal blog.
Second, would anyone be interested? People involved in tutor training is a pretty narrow field and it might inform people who use similar models for tutors. I don’t think there is a wide interest. That is one of the reasons I consider this for my own professional development rather than worrying about whether anyone would be interested in the results.
Finally, who am I studying? This is an intriguing question. Am I studying students or employees? We discuss this quite a bit within the department. Most tutors are full-time students as a job eligibility requirement. We do have a few contract positions for grads and part-time faculty for some difficulty senior year courses, but most positions are filled by students. Because of the addition of Retention Coordinators as faculty advisors, we have taken the view that our tutoring lab are labs and we are similar to placement or clinical supervisors who are concerned with tutors’ practice and development in tutoring, communication skills and employability skills. We actively look for teachable moments with our tutors. So, Marko and I consider tutors as our students. This adds another layer to the questions of ethics.
This is my second to last post about the Scholar module. I am almost there! If you made it to the end of this post, thank you! It was very satisfying to write! Very wordy! I enjoy lots of words and bristle at the number of reports that I have to write that are little more than elevator pitches because they can only be one page in length or no one will read them! Maybe no one will read this but it felt good to write!
Plan for a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Project
How can I increase the number of tutors who use a modelling approach when tutoring students in Math.
Will adjusting the present Strategic Instruction Model (SIM) model to Model-Coach-Fade (MCF) increase tutors’ understanding of the approach?
Will adding a role modeling exercise during training increase tutors’ comfort levels with approach?
Identify challenge/outcome related to learning that is related to your question.
Using the survey method, poll tutors in the Spring Semester on their usage of the current SIM model to develop a baseline for tutor usage of the approach.
During the initial Fall Tutor Training sessions, present MCF using an exercise/practice session where tutors use the model with another tutor and experience being tutored with the model by another tutor.
Using the survey method, poll tutors two weeks and six weeks after training on their usage of MCF.
Experienced tutors who would have received training on both models will be asked an additional question regarding whether MCF was easier to understand than SIM.
Ethical considerations: tutors may choose to participate in the surveys and will be informed of the study and its purpose. If results are published in any way, prior approval by Administration and Research Ethics Committee is required. If results are not published, only Administrative approval is required. The role of tutors is considered an employee role but given that 95% of tutors are also enrolled full-time students and the study examines a portion of training, tutors should be treated as students in terms of ethics considerations.
Describe the instructional activity, assignment, or teaching strategy that will promote student learning on the outcome you identified.
The current approach to presenting SIM is to provide tutors step by step information through the Tutor Manual and to lecture on the model in face-to-face training with a faculty member who also demonstrated one problem set.
The new approach will be to present MCF information both in the manual and with a short, portable handout. In face-to-face training with a faculty member will include a short explanation and demonstration of MCF, a discussion of how using MCF will increase student independence, and an exercise where tutors will work with MCF as both a tutor and a tutee followed by a discussion of the experience.
Describe the evidence that would persuade an external audience that the new or modified teaching strategy improves student learning on the targeted learning outcome.
The results of the first survey would constitute the baseline of usage for SIM. The results of the two-week and six-week usage rates would be compared to the baseline to determine if usage rates increased.
Limitations: There is a concern that a positive increase in usage of MCF may only be because of observer effect. There is also a limitation in terms of sample size as the Spring cohort of tutors would be drawn from a pool of 30 tutors and tutors could be chosen by their willingness to participate. The pool of tutors for the Fall semester will be approximately 100 tutors and the sample would be created based on tutors’ willingness to participate. Because of this, it would be unlikely that the results could be generalized to other populations.
How and where would you publish, present, or disseminate this work?
As this project is intended as a professional development exercise, I would be requesting permission to publish the results on my personal blog.
Questions adapted from: C. J. Stanny, E. M. El-Sheikh, & H-M. Chung (2009) Getting Started with an SoTL Project Center for University Teaching, Learning, and Assessment http://uwf.edu/cutla/
Featured Image & Disclaimer: If you are not involved in Ontario Extend, you may find this blog post very boring so I have added a cool picture of a cat to distract you! Photo by Federica Diliberto on Unsplash
My next step in SoTL is to focus in on a Research area. I have decided to focus on an area of tutor training, specifically, the technique I share called Simulated Instruction Model. This turned out to be incorrect, the actual name is Strategic Instruction Model.
Because I am focusing this project on tutors, I want to evaluate the impact of changing my approach to teaching this model to see if tutors will be more likely to use the model with students. Therefore, using the UBC SoTL Explorer, I have chosen to frame my project as follows:
Practice: Short Active Learning
Impact: Attitude and Motivation
To be clear, I am not studying whether the model leads to better outcomes for students. My focus is on whether making changes to presentation of the model to tutors will lead to better adoption rates by tutors as an alternative practice to direct instruction and explaining. Both direct instruction and explaining put students in a very passive role and appears to be the fall back position of tutors who relate these techniques to the teaching practices they often see in the classroom. One of my underlying themes in tutor training is that tutoring is fundamental different from teaching and that tutoring does not take the place of in class participation or use of professor’s office hours.
The model I use does not quite match the SIM model for learning strategies so I am considering using Model-Coach-Fade which seems to be connected to the Flipped Classroom concept. This will mean that the technique does match activities in a flipped classroom and the actions of a flipped professor but will move tutors away from the traditional lecture model that they are familiar with.
I have collected a few resources for Model-Coach-Fade:
As I continue with the Scholar Module, I need to set a foundation for my SoTL research question. I want to focus on my work with Tutors in the college setting. When I became a Retention Coordinator, about 10 years ago, and took on the role of Faculty Advisor to Tutoring Services along with my partner, Marko Jovanovic, I thought about a “vision” for tutoring and what we could offer our “stakeholders.” Very businessy of me, but you draw from what you know.
We developed a Purpose Statement. Not a mission statement, because the college already has one, but a statement that would describe how Tutoring Services could fit into and advance the college’s overall mission. This is what we came up with:
The purpose of Tutoring Services is to develop and maintain a credible and responsive system that:
Gives students access to academic support in course specific material and core skills through individual and group tutoring, workshops and resources that support success and independence in learning;
Encourages tutors to develop their tutoring practice and job skills through training, guidance, resource and support services while respecting their personal academic goals;
Provides accurate, timely data and information to administration, the Student Services sector, and the Academic sector regarding student needs as well as individual and institutional barriers that impact academic success. (St. Clair College, 2017)
I talk about the purpose at every training session and every meeting. I tell tutors that the most important aspect of what we provide for students is the opportunity to become more independent in their learning – so that they don’t need us anymore. I toss out maxims like “work your way out of a job with your student” and “never do something for your student that they can do for themselves.”
In tutor training, I present different techniques tutors can use when working with students that includes direct instruction and explaining, the two techniques that new tutors often start with and fall back on, but explain that these tools should be used sparingly. I move on to other techniques such as modeling and anchoring.
It is the modelling technique that I am interested in exploring with SoTL. The modelling approach I use is based on SIM technique I learned as part of the Learning Disabilities Specialist program at Cambrian College. (Thank you Jessica O’Reilly from Cambrian for helping me find the document). Basically, it works like this for Math problems:
Choose a problem that is similar to the homework problem the student is struggling with. Solve that problem and talk out every step you take, every thought you have as you work. The idea is to make your thinking real for the student so that they can see and hear your process.
Have the student tackle the same problem on a fresh page. Ask the student to talk out their steps and their thinking. Listen for mis-steps and misunderstandings. If the student is missing information or steps, review that with the student and point out where they can find that information in their notes or text (or online).
When the student is successful with the first problem, ask them to try a new similar problem on their own and with out your help or prompting. Repeat process until student is successful in solving those types of problems.
This technique works well, but in the past couple of months, I am seeing tutors fall back on direct instruction and explaining without giving the student an opportunity to try the problem, confirming their understanding. My thought is to first research if there is a better but similar model to this and then determine an active learning process to teaching tutors this technique to see if we can get better uptake.
St. Clair College. (2017). Tutor manual 2017/18. Windsor, Ontario: Author.
Hmmmm…. so what is the Amateur work in SoTL. A quick search on my favorite engine brought up a few perspectives:
Peter Felten (2013), in Principles of Good Practice in SoTL, describes an “amateur culture [that] often makes US SoTL more of a methodological and theoretical mutt than its cousins from other countries” (p. 121).
Okay, so amateur work is this idea that folks do participate in SoTL activities from different disciplines and others may think they are not doing it right. I can live with that. I am reminded of Douglas Hubbard’sHow to Measure Anything. I read this for personal professional development a few years ago and plan to review it again in the July/August period. There are a few ideas from Hubbard’s work that stick with me:
You can measure anything, even things you thought could not be measured.
Making decisions with some data is better than relying on gut instinct or expert opinions.
When you know nothing, anything you find out will lead to a better decision.
Use a model and a plan.
One of the stories he uses to illustrate this is of Emily Rosa, a nine year old girl who designed an experiment to measure the validity of therapeutic touch. She was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Am I intimidated by OntarioExtend’s Scholar Module? Yes. Am I going to keep doing it? Yes. Because after reviewing SoTL the value statements, I am going to focus on:
Faculty development opportunities.
Renewed faculty excitement about teaching and greater self-awareness.
So what if I am an amateur. So was everyone else the first time they tried SoTL. Even if folks were able to generalize their skills from other research or they current disciplines, there was still their first time. Like a child coloring a picture, I am not going to worry about going outside the lines. I will aim for joy in the process and something I can hang on my fridge!
Boyer (1990) defined SoTL as “is an emerging movement of scholarly thought and action that draws on the reciprocal relationship between teaching and learning at the post-secondary level” (as cited in What is SoTL?, n.d., para. 1).
According to theJournal of Financial Education (2016), “The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) considers teaching as a scholarly endeavor that is worthy of research designed to produce a body of knowledge open to critique and evaluation. SoTL uses reflection, discovery, analysis, and evidence-based procedures to research effective teaching, with the ultimate goal of improving student learning outcomes.” (para. 1).
What is my personal take? I think SoTL is the process of trying out something new in your practice to help students, checking to see if it worked, modifying and trying again if it didn’t, and sharing with others if it did. Rinse, repeat. Is there is terribly simplified take on SoTL? Darn right, skippy, because otherwise I am going to be too chicken to try it. It seems awfully intimidating a thing to try and now I am afraid of amateur work as noted by Nancy Chick (approx. 8:38 minutes) in the Key Characteristics of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning video. I don’t know what amateur work is but now I am freaked out that anything I try would be considered that and that sounds bad. I am going to research that next and I will be sure the put it in italics whenever I mention it.
The first exercise asks for three SoTL Characteristics the resonate with me. That part was easy so let’s get that out-of-the-way:
Inquiry – I already have a lot of questions, some of them interesting, some are why and most are what if.
Closing the loop – If I do this in the class, this will happen. Did It? Let’s check, modify and do it again.
Being public about the findings – seem to fit with an Open Educator persona.
I want to adapt two excerpts from an OER textbook.
Add original video of my own.
Use CC licensed video and images from Unsplash.
Link to additional resources
Add self-test questions that I create.
Academic Integrity – The Honest Truth
It is vital that students focus on the active process of learning, not just on how to get good grades. The attitude of some students that grades are the end-all in academics has led many students to resort to academic dishonesty to try to get the best possible grades or handle the pressure of an academic program. Although you may be further tempted if you’ve heard people say, “Everybody does it,” or “It’s no big deal at my school,” you should be mindful of the consequences of cheating:
You don’t learn as much. Cheating may get you the right answer on a particular exam question, but it won’t teach you how to apply knowledge in the world after school, nor will it give you a foundation of knowledge for learning more advanced material. When you cheat, you cheat yourself out of opportunities.
You risk failing the course or even expulsion from school. Each institution has its own definitions of and penalties for academic dishonesty, but most include cheating, plagiarism, and fabrication or falsification. The exact details of what is allowed or not allowed vary somewhat among different colleges and even instructors, so you should be sure to check your school’s Web site and your instructor’s guidelines to see what rules apply. Ignorance of the rules is seldom considered a valid defense.
Cheating causes stress. Fear of getting caught will cause you stress and anxiety; this will get in the way of performing well with the information you do know.
You’re throwing away your money and time. Getting a college education is a big investment of money and effort. You’re simply not getting your full value when you cheat, because you don’t learn as much.
You are trashing your integrity. Cheating once and getting away with it makes it easier to cheat again, and the more you cheat, the more comfortable you will feel with giving up your integrity in other areas of life—with perhaps even more serious consequences.
Cheating lowers your self-esteem. If you cheat, you are telling yourself that you are simply not smart enough to handle learning. It also robs you of the feeling of satisfaction from genuine success.
Technology has made it easier to cheat. Your credit card and an Internet connection can procure a paper for you on just about any subject and length. You can copy and paste for free from various Web sites. Students have made creative use of texting and video on their cell phones to gain unauthorized access to material for exams. But be aware that technology has also created ways for instructors to easily detect these forms of academic dishonesty. Most colleges make these tools available to their instructors. Instructors are also modifying their testing approaches to reduce potential academic misconduct by using methods that are harder to cheat at (such as in-class essays that evaluate your thinking and oral presentations).
If you feel uneasy about doing something in your college work, trust your instincts. Confirm with the instructor that your intended form of research or use of material is acceptable. Cheating just doesn’t pay.
Video – this is a rough cut of my video. I plan to clean it up and add design elements, closed captioning and a transcript.
The Value of Academic Integrity
Video by Irene Stewart, January 10, 2018
Plagiarism—and How to Avoid It
Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of material from a source. At the most obvious level, plagiarism involves using someone else’s words and ideas as if they were your own. There’s not much to say about copying another person’s work: it’s cheating, pure and simple. But plagiarism is not always so simple. Notice that our definition of plagiarism involves “words and ideas.” Let’s break that down a little further.
Words. Copying the words of another is clearly wrong. If you use another’s words, those words must be in quotation marks, and you must tell your reader where those words came from. But it is not enough to make a few surface changes in wording. You can’t just change some words and call the material yours; close, extended paraphrase is not acceptable.
Ideas. Ideas are also a form of intellectual property. You may this idea in a passage that summarizes the original, that is, it states the main idea in compressed form in language that does not come from the original. But it could still be seen as plagiarism if the source is not cited. This example probably makes you wonder if you can write anything without citing a source. To help you sort out what ideas need to be cited and what not, think about these principles:
Common knowledge. There is no need to cite common knowledge. Common knowledge does not mean knowledge everyone has. It means knowledge that everyone can easily access. If the information or idea can be found in multiple sources and the information or idea remains constant from source to source, it can be considered common knowledge. This is one reason so much research is usually done for college writing—the more sources you read, the more easily you can sort out what is common knowledge: if you see an uncited idea in multiple sources, then you can feel secure that idea is common knowledge.
Distinct contributions. One does need to cite ideas that are distinct contributions. A distinct contribution need not be a discovery from the work of one person. It need only be an insight that is not commonly expressed (not found in multiple sources) and not universally agreed upon.
Disputable figures. Always remember that numbers are only as good as the sources they come from. If you use numbers or any statistics always cite your source of those numbers. If your instructor does not know the source you used, you will not get much credit for the information you have collected.
Everything said previously about using sources applies to all forms of sources. Some students mistakenly believe that material from the Web, for example, need not be cited. Or that an idea from an instructor’s lecture is automatically common property. You must evaluate all sources in the same way and cite them as necessary.
Forms of Citation
You should generally check with your instructors about their preferred form of citation when you write papers for courses. No one standard is used in all academic papers. You can learn about the three major forms or styles used in most any college writing handbook and on many Web sites for college writers:
The Modern Language Association (MLA) system of citation is widely used but is most commonly adopted in humanities courses, particularly literature courses.
The American Psychological Association (APA) system of citation is most common in the social sciences.
The Chicago Manual of Style is widely used but perhaps most commonly in history courses.
Many college departments have their own style guides, which may be based on one of the above. Your instructor should refer you to his or her preferred guide, but be sure to ask if you have not been given explicit direction.
Unit would end with self-check or self-test questions to be developed.
This is my prototype of materials to remix into a new unit. I am considering combining these into one container although, I am not sure what technology would be best to put this together. I am also not sure if all these resources have creative commons licensing that can be combined. Finally, I am not sure that this would represent a complete picture of Academic Integrity or if I am missing content. If you would like to provide any feedback or suggestions, your ideas would be most welcome.
This is my final Extend Activity for the Collaborator Module. I took my time in completing this and considered who I might like to add to my PLN. I wanted to look for some thought leaders to add, outside all the wonderful leaders that are already in my Ontario Extend network. I had already added Rajiv Jhangiani as he was a keynote speaker at a recent Open Education Summit that I attended. I added Jesse Stommel and JR Dingwall to my list.
During my thinking time, I also Zoomed with Terry Greene about some of my struggles coming up with this map. I VConnected with Helen DeWaard and Terry Greene and really enjoyed that opportunity to listen in to Festival of Learning 2018. I have appreciated reading and receiving feedback about my blog. I also joined the Making Sense of Open Education lead by Jenni Hayman and have learned from participating in the discussion forums. Later this week, I will have Zoom lunch with Alan Levine and others from Extend West!
I think my struggle with developing my PLN map came from, at that time, participating primarily through Twitter. By extending the ways I interact with other in my PLN, my map and my experiences are richer.
If I start with the premise that literacy has to do with a desire to communicate, then oral histories and cave paintings are artifacts of literacy. So too are books, works of art, music, dance, architecture, crafts, fashion and a myriad of other human expressions. As we humans strive to express the ideas in our heads, we create ways to do so. Literacy includes the desire to share ideas and information with your community, to learn and understand, to create and grow, to appreciate and critique.
In every generation, new mediums are created and old mediums are maintained, rediscovered or rejected. Therefore, digital landscapes are simply new spaces to occupy with our words, sounds, images, ideas and expressions. Our digital expressions are our cave paintings.
While I do believe that defining digital literacy (or digital literacies) can be useful, it seems to me that all the dissecting to find the small pieces and then trying to weave it back into a model leaves too much out. It is as if the act of pulling it all apart to name it leaves some of the magic on the floor that gets swept away when finally putting it back together and saying – this is it, this is the definition.
“We live on an island surrounded by a sea of ignorance. As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.” ― John Archibald Wheeler
I really love is this quote from Wheeler and the idea that what we know is our island and the shore is our awareness of what we don’t know. As we learn more, our island gets bigger and so does our awareness of what we don’t yet know – our shore line increases in size. The more I learn, the more I realize that there is still so much to know.
I feel this way about digital literacy. When I got my first computer in 1992, I could not have predicted the ways in which I use computers in my daily life now. I think about my mother, who just turned 92 and who recently figured out how to video call me over Facebook on her iPad! My mother – whose first car was a horse, who grew up in a place where there was one phone in the entire village, who did not have a television until the mid 1950s, whose first motion picture was the Sound of Music in 1965 and she is video calling me! She has digital literacy. She has found a way to connect and communicate using this “new” technology!
So what does all this musing mean for me as a teacher in a digital world? This is the space I must occupy and I need to be both an explorer and a guide. I need to seek out, learn and understand new ways of expressing information and ideas in this digital medium while practicing creation, appreciation, and discernment.