Teaching Matters

We have ways of making you write

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Teaching Matters 2017 | Presentation Details | 28 NovemberNov 2017


‘We have ways of making you write’: building SOTL capability and culture at UTAS


Steve Drew, Tasmanian Institute of Learning and Teaching
Andrea Carr, University College
Jo-Anne Kelder, Faculty of Health
Justin Walls, Faculty of Health


Advancing the Scholarship of Learning and Teaching

Presentation Type

Showcase Presentation


Social Sciences 209




A desktop survey reveals a range of approaches, activities and tools to advancing scholarship at UTAS that function at different levels and with different scope for influencing teaching practice and supporting quality improvement outcomes. However, from a ‘systems’ perspective, the SOTL outputs of UTAS staff members are variable and it is demonstrably difficult for innovative staff members to achieve ‘engaged dissemination’ that positively impacts student learning. In particular, staff members’ interactions with institutional structures and processes for enabling SOTL is affected by the social contexts in which SOTL is developed and practiced: while pockets of SOTL and individual champions exist, their ability to connect for mutual benefit and dissemination is limited by time, context, disciplinary silos and a range of different factors and barriers that negatively affect broad-based capability development.

This paper presents a project and method for integrating existing activities into a set of scholarly processes that will enable individual academics to build skills and knowledge for engaging in SOTL. For example, there are institutional mechanisms such as the centrally provided Communities of Practice Initiative (COPI) and Peer Review of Teaching project. Faculty /College led initiatives include the 2015 project to adapt the Peer Assisted Teaching Scheme (PATS) for course-level curriculum, developing the Curriculum Evaluation Research (CER) framework and resources to enable teaching teams to ‘learn by doing’ the key elements of scholarship (identifying relevant questions; collecting data, analysing data to generate knowledge and disseminating through reports and publications). Additionally, in 2017, to provide opportunities for staff to develop specific skills and knowledge, the Faculty of Health has implemented a learning and teaching Professional Development Program of monthly talks with targeted follow-up workshops for teaching teams, shared cross-institutionally.

The SOTL capability and culture building project is designed to develop collaborative peer-led practices in the elements of scholarship (designing a research program, collecting and analysing data, publishing contributions to knowledge) applied in situated learning context (teaching teams monitoring and reporting on the performance of curriculum).

The goal of the project is to broaden and deepen UTAS academics’ engagement in SOTL, both quantitatively (the number of staff motivated and active in evidence-based teaching practices that enhance student learning experiences and outcomes) and qualitatively (levels of capability in scholarship, peer networks and communities of practice).

The project’s approach, to develop capability and enrich a culture of SOTL, is to use a method of appreciative inquiry (Bushe, 2013) and build upon UTAS’s strong history of supporting and disseminating learning and teaching innovations. In particular, the project seeks to connect and leverage our institutional value statements linking academic skills in learning and teaching, structures for engaging with colleagues in scholarly endeavours, and articulated teaching performance expectations that require evidence of activities with impact for academic progression and ultimately promotion.

The intended outputs of the project are reflective of the developmental, appreciative inquiry approach taken. The project plan spans 24 months and the ultimate goal is for the authors to collaborate with the Institution for Learning in Higher Education (LiHE) to run an international book-chapter writing symposium hosted by the University of Tasmania, March 2019. To achieve a successful symposium, a program of developmental activities has been planned and are advertised to UTAS staff, beginning June 2017, building SOTL capabilities and practices skills that are valuable in their own right, and also will enable participation in the symposium. The invitational approach allows individuals to participate at whatever level and extent that is appropriate to their context and needs. The program of activities, implemented in a range of curriculum and teaching contexts, provides a situated learning opportunity for academics to develop and share scholarship in a supportive environment.

This presentation will provide information on the details of the SOTL capability building project and will be of interest to academics that are interested in engaging with a scholarship development process that leads to scholarly outputs (not just the symposium); contribute to collegial development of scholarly outputs and wishing to enhance their national/international reputation/profile for scholarship.


Bushe, G.R. (2013). Kessler, E., ed. The Appreciative Inquiry Model. The Encyclopedia of Management Theory. Sage Publications.

Revans, R. W. (1982). The Origin and Growth of Action Learning. Brickley, UK: Chartwell-Bratt.

Waddill, D. D. and M. Marquardt (2003). Adult learning orientations and action learning. Human Resource Development Review, 2(4): 406-429.

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