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Faculty Learning Groups

Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning

Scholarship of Teaching & Learning Faculty Group 
Center for Teaching Excellence, Duquesne University
Spring Semester 2015 - Spring Semester 2016
Co-led by Marcia Rapchak (Gumberg Library) & Laurel Willingham-McLain (CTE)

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Timothy Austin, in his March 2014 convocation speech, articulated interdisciplinary teaching and research as important Duquesne directions. This faculty learning group provides an opportunity to explore teaching and learning in interdisciplinary courses and curricula and to prepare a conference presentation or published article.

Think about the interdisciplinary course/curriculum that you teach:

  • Where do you see students struggling to learn? Where are they learning deeply?
  • What concepts or skills do you want to teach better? If you did, what might the learning success look like?
  • In what ways is your students' interdisciplinary learning central to becoming 21st century leaders?

Continue reading to discover more about the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and our most recent faculty learning group. 

What is Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)?

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is the "systematic reflection on teaching and learning made public." - Illinois State University

"The scholarship of teaching and learning involves systematic study of teaching and/or learning and the public sharing and review of such work through presentations or publications." (Kathleen McKinney, "What is SoTL in Higher Education?")

"The scholarship of teaching and learning addresses the intellectual work of the classroom, especially teaching and learning, as the focus of disciplinary-based learning, captures that work in appropriate formats for self-reflection or presentation to peers, and applies the results to practice." (Barbara Cambridge, Fostering the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Communities of Practice, 2001)

What is this particular SoTL group?

  • Through committed participation in this faculty learning group, 8-10 members will conduct research on student learning in an interdisciplinary teaching/learning context at Duquesne University. Faculty participants will work in groups of 2-3 people.
  • They will participate in the process of learning about various ways to conduct the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) so that it fits their disciplinary assumptions and is ethical in distinguishing the teacher/researcher and student/respondent roles.
  • Participants will articulate their research question, select methods, submit an IRB protocol for the use of human participants, collect and analyze data, and make their findings public through peer-reviewed conferences and publications outside Duquesne.

Projected Timeline

Spring 2015: Get to know faculty colleagues in the group, learn the basics of scholarship of teaching and learning (SOTL) practices, explore your topic/question by conducting a preliminary literature review to explore relevant teaching/learning research questions and methods. 

Summer or Fall 2015: Focus your project, conduct a literature review, determine an approach to teaching/learning, select methods for collecting evidence of student learning, complete IRB training and request IRB approval.

Fall 2015 or Spring 2016: implement the project; gather student-learning data

Spring or Summer 2016: analyze the data and submit a conference proposal and/or article.


Please submit this application as an email attachment to willingham@duq.edu in the Center for Teaching Excellence by Friday, January 16, 2015.

Questions? Contact Laurel Willingham-McLain at willingham@duq.edu or 412 396 5177. 

Duquesne faculty reflect on recent scholarship of teaching and learning groups:

  • I was reminded of the power of collaboration in approaching projects in novel ways. This group was a great way to interact with other serious-minded scholars who might have drastically different ideas on how to approach research questions and issues.
  • What did I learn? So much! I had no concept of SoTL practices before enrolling in this learning group. I am still a novice, but am committed to continue to assess the effectiveness of my instructional methods using SoTL procedures. 
  • My mind has been opened to an entire field of research - that of the scholarship of teaching and learning - with which I was previously unfamiliar. I have also learned the basics of how to prepare and submit an IRB, something not often done for research in my field, but which opens the door to multiple possible alternative avenues of research.
  • I found it extremely helpful to be part of the SOTL group. The support, opportunities for idea generation, critique and collegiality were invaluable.
  • The SOTL group helped me refine how I thought about teaching in higher ed and helped me see beyond just the literature in teacher education - that teacher educators still work within a broader university context and that other faculty in other schools are also doing research on how best to teach their students. I used the findings of the project to make course changes. I also presented the findings at two conferences and have a paper that's under revise resubmit at a good journal.
  • The SOTL group provided an opportunity to meet with scholars interested in research topics similar to the one I wanted to address. In the group, we were able to explore potential approaches to our individual projects. Being able to talk with others about the topic helped me firm up the research method and, consequently, the IRB proposal for my project. I look forward to submitting an article based on the research in 2015.

Sample presentations and publications from Scholarship of Multicultural Teaching and Learning: http://guides.library.duq.edu/content.php?pid=414914&sid=3422053