SoTL Seed Program Impact and Testimonials

In 2019, a formal program evaluation initiative was launched to assess the extent to which the intended program goals have been met after six years of operation. Data sources include time tracking files, formative feedback from project leads, project closure reports, interviews with project leads, focus groups with SoTL Specialists, and our own experiences managing the program. A full evaluation report can be found here.

Goal 1: Supporting faculty members in engaging in reflective practice and pedagogical research in the disciplines

Leading a SoTL Seed project has been a learning experience for most of our project leads. Two thirds of the project leads expressed that due to their SoTL Seed experience they were more interested in SoTL overall, and experienced changed perceptions of the possibilities and opportunities for researching their own teaching.

“I have learnt that there are always opportunities to learn from what we are doing in the classroom. There is always research that can be done and that there should be a mix of various different types of learning modalities to provide students the best possible outcomes.”

Sixty-three percent indicated that the experience increased their awareness of the impact of their teaching practices and pedagogical choices on their student learning experiences, and half of the project leads indicated that the outcomes of their projects have encouraged them to modify how they teach.

“I’m still a beginner when it comes to SoTL research, but I really felt that this helped me understand the SoTL process and has motivated me to continue researching my teacher practice.”

Educational Leadership stream instructors particularly appreciated that support is provided in-kind, as opposed to funding. This implies that we are helping overcome one of the most critical challenges our educational leaders face: workload and time constraints.

“I’m really, really impressed with the model you have created. For example, it’s great that you are not giving me funds and, instead, are mentoring and paying [SoTL Specialist]. He is learning and getting paid, our team is also learning, from [SoTL Specialist] and also from each other.”

Goal 2: Increasing faculty members’ capacity as independent SoTL researchers

Participating in the SoTL Seed program has impacted instructors’ identities as independent SoTL researchers. Many have indicated that program engagement has led to newly acquired skills and understandings.

Although some project leads still do not feel confident to conduct a SoTL project on their own after participating in the program, generally instructors report increased confidence and understanding of the SoTL process.

“I feel that my ability to think of research questions and methods has definitely grown throughout this process. The main lesson learnt is that there is always an opportunity for SoTL! I do feel motivated to continue my research in my teaching practice.”

“Being part of the Seed Grant program was an amazing opportunity. I learned how to better use survey data to understand learners’ preferences and how to more objectively measure the educational impact of interventions. In addition, I gained a better understanding [of] how the CTLT can connect disciplines and departments across campus.”

The following comment illustrates some of the challenges instructors encountered as they engaged with their SoTL Seed project:

“For me it was designing the experiment. I could not have done any of the analysis without [SoTL Specialist’s] help.”

One key finding across both interviews and feedback surveys was the feeling of limited support for dissemination of SoTL work across UBC. The ISoTL team is currently working on addressing this gap.

Goal 3: Promoting a culture of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at UBC

Appreciation of the SoTL Seed program towards promoting an institutional culture that values teaching and learning as a scholarly activity was both for support provided and also in terms of the collaborations and connections with other instructors. Having participated in the SoTL Seed program provided opportunities to meet and connect with faculty beyond home departments thus expanding project leads’ professional networks.

“[The SoTL Seed] introduced me to an active and supportive team/community of UBC colleagues with whom I hope to continue engaging in SoTL conversations.”

“Yes, we are now much more confident about starting a new SoTL project. Initiating collaborations on projects, especially with people with different expertise [is] a great way to take on the workload associated with SoTL projects.”

The value of SoTL activity at UBC was indeed a point of contention amongst project leads with completed projects. Those who perceived SoTL activity as holding value at UBC, clearly believed SoTL plays a role in tenure and promotion processes, and that engaging in SoTL is an expectation for some faculty. Some noted that UBC’s SoTL culture has started to shift with teaching, and research on teaching, being valued by more sectors in academia.

“I believe there is interest amongst my colleagues to learn from my SoTL experience. SoTL is also recognized in my discipline, given the number of scholarly journals that are accepting such work. I think there is a promising future ahead for SoTL as universities begin to expand on teaching tracks and educational leadership type positions.”

Goal 4: Promoting student-faculty partnerships in teaching and learning

Our unique support model allows the SoTL Specialists to bridge an important gap for faculty who may be engaging with SoTL for the first time, and who many need additional support navigating new methods and approaches to evaluating learning/teaching in their particular contexts.

Comments and feedback received from project leads both during the course of their SoTL Seed projects (formative feedback) and after project completion (closure reports) indicate a high level of satisfaction with the support received from our team. Project leads have described the partnership with students as key to project success.

“The SoTL experts are excellent and really help with the project management and the SoTL expertise. By far it’s what makes this successful!”

The contributions of SoTL Specialists, in the form of methodological advice and data analysis were acknowledged by most project leads:

“One thing I learned is the value of collaboration, and that someone with a strong background in educational studies can allow me to do studies my own training really wouldn’t allow me to do–but that are potentially quite useful for the field.”

All in all, the collaboration with SoTL Specialists is not only the trademark of the SoTL Seed Program, but a trait that is highly valued by faculty and perceived as the major strength of the support we offer to the UBC community.