Research on Teaching and Learning in higher Education

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Published Date:17-07-2017
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Introduction One telling measure of how die ff rently teaching is regarded from traditional scholarship or research within the academy is what a die ff rence it makes to have a “problem” in one versus the other. In scholarship and research, having a “problem” is at the heart of the investigative process; it is the compound of the generative questions around which all creative and productive activity revolves. But in one’s teaching, a “problem” is something you don’t want to have, and if you have one, you probably want to fix it. Asking a colleague about a problem in his or her research is an invitation; asking about a problem in one’s teaching would probably seem like an accusation. Changing the status of the problem in teaching from terminal remediation to ongoing investigation is precisely what the movement for a scholarship of teaching is all about. How might we make the problema- tization of teaching a matter of regular communal discourse? How might we think of teaching practice, and the evidence of student learning, as problems to be investigated, analyzed, represented and debated? (Bass, 1999, Introduction, para. 1) Teachers who engage in scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) take what the scholarly teacher does one step further and “go public” with their work – making it available to colleagues in a public forum and accessible to peer review. This one step represents a change in practice that can transform casual obser- vations about student learning into scholarly work that frames the questions, systematically gathers and explores evidence, reflects on and refines new ideas, and crafts the results in a form that is suitable for public presentation. The purpose of this guidebook is to provide you with an introduction to SoTL research – including key teaching and learning concepts, the cycle of scholarship of teaching and learning, work sheets, and useful resources that are meant to assist you. In this guidebook, the terms “Research on Teaching and Learning” and scholarship of teaching and learning may be used interchangeably. Research on teaching and learning, primarily referred to in the literature as the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL), is a distinctive form of research that is shaped by multi-disciplinary contexts and focuses on practice-driven, institutional-curricular-classroom inquiries with an explicit transformational agenda (Hubball & Clarke, 2010). Research on teaching and learning welcomes the context of the classroom in all its complexity as a resource for understanding (Cross & Steadman, 1996). The uniqueness of this research involves interac- tions between a teacher, a learner and a context. Classroom teachers can make an enormous contribu- tion to the practice of teaching by using their classrooms as laboratories for the study of learning (Cross & Steadman, 1996). Scholarship or research on teaching and learning involves both continuous learning and productive contributions to knowledge. This guidebook has been developed to introduce new entrants – faculty, instructional staff, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students from across a full range of disciplines and fields to the purposes and – methodologies of classroom research. We have written this guidebook to encourage individuals to engage in discussion about teaching and learning that might enrich their research projects. 5Understanding Teaching and Learning Concepts One of the most important aspects of entering any new field of work is to understand the language and main concepts used in it. In early publications, you will often see the term scholarship of teaching, which is now more commonly referred to as the scholarship of teaching and learning (in the U.S.). Yet, one of the many sources of confusion about this work and its value to higher education is the issue of the distinctions between good teaching, scholarly teaching and the scholarship of teaching and learning (Dewar, 2008). The lines are often blurred between these terms in the literature. Some argue there are distinct overlaps between these three aspects of teaching and learning (Kreber, 2002; Thompson, 2001). Figure 1 - Teaching & Learning Concepts Good Scholarly Scholarship of Teaching Teaching Teaching & Learning Adapted from Thompson (2001) Good Teaching Teaching involves all faculty, instructors and graduate students engaged in teaching activities. Good teachers become aware of their own teaching processes and of the effect of these processes on student learning. Teachers at this stage are reflective about what is taking place in their classrooms and may seek out colleagues with whom to discuss their ideas about how to improve student learning (Bernstein & Ginsberg, 2009; McKinney, 2004; Weston & McAlpine, 2001). Good teachers generally focus on their own personal growth in teaching by continually refining their teaching activities in relation to student learning. While good teachers often engage in institutional teaching development activities and purposefully evaluate their own teaching to make improvements, at this stage SoTL does not usually inform them directly. Scholarly Teaching Scholarly teachers are informed not only by the latest developments in the field, but also by research about instructional design and methods of assessing student learning and teaching in their field (Bass, 1999). Scholarly teaching focuses on engaging with the scholarly contributions of others, reflecting on one’ s own teaching practice and on student learning within a particular disciplinary context, and communicating and disseminating aspects of practice and theoretical ideas about teaching and learning with others (Felder & Brent, 2001). Scholarly teachers engage in communities of practice and mentor other teachers in the discipline in order to develop an understanding of teaching and learning. Scholarly teaching means using the teaching and learning literature to inform and enhance your practice. 6The Scholarship of Teaching & Learning The teacher at this stage considers a teaching problem as an opportunity for scholarly investigation (Bass, 1999). The scholarship of teaching and learning may involve elements of discovery, application and integration (Boyer, 1990) and is intended to improve practice within and beyond a researcher’s own classroom. The teacher who engages in the scholarship of teaching and learning may design and implement a study and collect data that will help him or her make sense of student learning. This work focuses on conducting research, developing results for peer review and publicly disseminating the research outcomes so others can learn from and build upon them. The scholarship of teaching and learning explores a specific question about teaching and learning by engaging with the literature, carrying out research, and making public the research results (Bernstein & Ginsberg, 2009). What Counts as Research? A question often asked by faculty and students new to the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) research is, what counts as research? Again, drawing distinctions can be helpful as you begin. In this regard, Trigwell and Shale (2004) suggest that the distinctions depend on the audience who benefits the most from the research results. They argue that SoTL research can generate different kinds of knowledge for different audiences: • Personal Knowledge e.g., classroom assessment technique/research to improve personal practice • Shared/Local Knowledge e.g., assessment/research to inform teaching team/ department/institution, without broader dissemination • Public Knowledge e.g., assessment/research shared to inform broader community, with public review Figure 2 - Who Benefits from SoTL Research? Personal Local Public Knowledge Adapted from Trigwell & Shale (2004) 7Classroom Assessment The purpose of classroom assessment is to make teachers and students more aware of the learning that takes place – or perhaps doesn’t take place – in the classroom; it is an assessment of learning in process, during the semester, in a given course (Angelo & Cross, 1993). Classroom assessment describes what is happening and typically answers questions about ‘what’ students are learning (e.g., what did students learn from the class discussion?). Classroom assessment often raises questions about how well students learn, which can lead instructors to classroom research. Classroom Research Classroom research has been defined as the ongoing and cumulative intellectual inquiry by teachers into the nature of teaching and learning in their own classrooms (Cross & Steadman, 1996). Classroom research is primarily focused on improving learning by assessing the impact of course design and pedago- gies on student learning. Classroom research is often concerned with the ‘why’ questions (e.g., why did students respond as they did?). The Scholarship of Teaching & Learning In the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, the work of the classroom is positioned as a site of inquiry; questions about students’ learning are posed and explored in order to improve one’s own practice and to advance the knowledge base of teaching and learning. Increasingly, this scholarship activity is essential for dealing with the challenges of learning and with the need to ask new questions about what to teach and how best to engage students in learning. The scholarship of teaching and learning provides a mechanism to improve teaching effectiveness and to enhance student learning outcomes, and has the potential to change academic cultures and communities (Brew, 2001). 8Scholarship of Teaching & Learning - Revisited The core of academic life in higher education lies in the scholarship in which faculty engage. Scholarship is at the heart of the profession. Ernest Boyer, in his book entitled Scholarship Reconsidered (1990), attempts to define the variety of scholarship in which faculty participate. Four key overlapping forms of scholarship were described in this seminal work – 1) scholarship of discovery; 2) scholarship of integration; 3) scholarship of application; and 4) scholarship of teaching (more recently renamed scholarship of teaching and learning). It may be more helpful to position the scholarship of teaching at the centre. Figure 3 - Research on Teaching & Learning Discovery Integration Teaching Application Adapted from Boyer (1990) • Scholarship of Discovery – inquiry or “research” in which new discoveries are made through original investigation. • Scholarship of Integration – work that synthesizes and gives meaning and perspective to isolated facts. • Scholarship of Application – work that examines how knowledge can be responsibly applied to consequential problems. • Scholarship of Teaching and Learning – work that examines teaching and learning in a scholarly fashion; results are presented publicly . 9In Scholarship Reconsidered, Boyer challenged university administrators to embrace and promote research on teaching and learning as an important component of faculty work, an essential endeavor with the capacity to improve the knowledge and quality of faculty teaching and student learning. He proposed that scholarship be broadened beyond an emphasis on discovery (inquiry) to encompass the scholarships of integration, application and teaching. In other words, scholarship work includes classroom inquiry, synthesizing ideas from different disciplines, and improving practice. Boyer (1990) argued the need to give scholarship a broader meaning in order to frame the work of “university teachers in ways that enrich, rather than restrict, the quality of undergraduate education” (Healey, 2000, p.169). The scholarship of teaching and learning may look different in different disciplines because most instructors think about pedagogical issues within the framework of their own fields. Thus, work in this area can take many forms. Nonetheless, the core work involves inquiry (examination and documentation) into teaching and learning in your classroom in order to improve practice and to make findings available to peers. This type of work can also involve extensive research designs that extend beyond a single classroom, program or discipline (Huber & Hutchings, 2005). Since Boyer’s seminal work, the concept of scholarship of teaching and learning has been refined (Glassick, Huber, & Maeroff, 1997; Trigwell, Martin, Benjamin, & Prosser, 2000) and has been at the core of the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Given the range of perspectives on or approaches to conducting research on teaching and learning, the definition has generated a great deal of debate. Like other new areas of work, this area of research is still taking shape in different ways and to different degrees, with each placing emphasis on different aspects of the teaching and learning paradigm. Despite its shifting formation, many scholars agree that the process consists of key principles that are consistent with good research practice. For the purposes of this guidebook, we view the scholarship of teaching and learning as that which positions “the work of the classroom as a site of inquiry that involves asking and answering questions about students’ learning in ways that can improve one’s own classroom and also advance the larger profession of teaching” (Huber & Hutchings, 2005, p.1). 10Scholarship of Teaching & Learning McMaster According to Huber and Hutchings (2005) the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) consists of four core practices. For the purposes of this guidebook, we have adapted Huber & Hutchings’ model to include five core practices. We position topics of interest as a distinct core practice, in order to acknowledge the importance of the motivations that lead you to questions about teaching and learning. Although the path is not always linear, the five practices are presented sequentially here for the purposes of clar ity. • Topics of Interest • Framing Questions • Gathering and Analyzing Evidence • Trying Out and Refining New Ideas in the Classroom • Going Public Figure 4 - Cycle of Scholarship & Teaching Topics of Interest Going Framing the Public Question Testing & Refining Gathering & in the Classroom Analyzing Evidence Adapted from Huber & Hutchings (2005) 11Topics of Interest The motivation to conduct scholarship of teaching and learning work often stems from a personal source of interest: something you really care about and want to know more about. A helpful strategy at this stage is observation; what you see can often lead to questions about learning and may prompt you to begin to think about the notion of a problem as a source of inquiry and about your purpose in wanting to do a SoTL project. For example, several topics that may interest you include: teaching strategies, curriculum revision, assessment methods, technology use, recurring student misconceptions, and recurring disappointments (adapted from the University of Central Florida at Topics may start from an animating force – a compelling idea, problem, concern, or hunch that causes a research question to come into being within a specific context (Calloway-Thomas & Feito, 2010). An animating force is an invitation to research. These ideas force us to pay attention to something – a pressing problem – that is other than what it should be across a range of topics and/or environments (Calloway-Thomas & Feito, 2010). To assist you in the process of identifying a topic of interest, you may want to consider any one of the following: • A felt sense of difficulty • A sense that something is other than what it should be • An influencer/shaper of the methodology • A ‘success’ that you want to understand more deeply • A ‘failure’ that you can’t get your head around • A tacit or invisible learning process that asks for more attention The initial steps of identifying topics of interest can involve seeking as many perspectives on the issue as possible. In the early stages of your research, it’s a good idea to gather ideas from a range of different stakeholders (e.g., students, colleagues, teaching assistants, librarians, educational research consultant) who may be interested in your research results. These perspectives should ideally be considered at the start of your research project. Considering the realities of collecting evidence, barriers to investigating the topics in question, and resources that may already be in place to assist in investigating any of these topics, choose a topic you are most passionate about. Create a place to capture and jot down all the information you gather. A 20 questions exercise might be a useful tool to help you in generating very broad ideas for your research that can lead you to framing effective questions (see Appendix A). To assist you in identifying topics of interest you may also want to consider the ideas collected in Table 1 (see Appendix B for the worksheet version). 12Table 1 - Topics of Interest In identifying your topics of interest you may Ideas want to consider: Jotting down inspirational ideas that emerge Using questions about student learning from teaching Identifying the most important learning goals in your course Thinking about the efficacy of one of the activities that you now use in your course Thinking about how the course environment either helps or constrains students as they move toward learning goals Listing the problems/challenges that your students encounter in your course Using ideas and feedback from students (e.g., what problems/challenges do students encounter in your course) Using your teaching experiences Using ideas and observations of others Using ideas from the literature in your specific field Identifying how the research results will benefit student learning Using ideas and information from administrative policy makers involved in decisions related to teaching and learning 13Framing Questions Huber and Hutchings (2005) suggest that framing research questions about student learning is the catalyst for and the first step in the process of classroom research. The purpose of the research question is “to explain specifically what you want to learn or understand” about your scholarship of teaching and learning topic (Maxwell, 1996, p. 51). Questions can involve investigation of issues rather than achievement of goals (e.g., ‘How do students who do not meet prerequisites fare compared to those who do’?). Often, this step begins with questions about whether a particular teaching approach will promote specific kinds of learning more effectively than traditional methods do (Huber & Hutchings, 2005). Invariably, initial “what works” questions lead you to deeper questions such as “what is” and “what might be the case if …” that are aimed at getting to a deeper understanding about what is going on in a particular teaching context. The sample questions below were adapted from recent SoTL work in the field of mathematics (Dewar, 2008) and reframed for appropriateness in any discipline: • What-is questions examine a current situation in order to describe it fully and to determine what its constituent features might be. Descriptive what-is questions might look at the dynamics of class discussions around a difficult topic, or they might seek to document the prior knowledge and understanding students bring to a particular topic or aspect of the discipline. • Example: How does – ll in d fi iscipline – majors’ understanding of – signature method within a discipline evolve as they move through the curriculum? – • What-works questions seek evidence for the effectiveness of a particular method or approach. The what-works question is often one that has a ready audience. • Example: What courses or other learning experiences have the greatest effect on the development of students’ understanding of – x (perhaps a – – key concept within a discipline – )? • What-could-be questions provide a vision of what is possible. • Example: How does the addition of a civic engagement component to a – ll in fi discipline – course influence student learning and attitudes towards – ll in d fi iscipline ? – • Generating new frameworks questions are not so much about exploring an aspect of practice as they are about building theory for shaping thought about practice (Hutchings, 2000). For example, difficulties can be used to uncover what is most essential to understand. • Example: How can “moments of difficulty” provide opportunities for understanding why some things are hard for students to learn? It is important to know that these types of questions are by no means mutually exclusive. It should also be noted that the categorization of questions above represents one model. Another model can be found in “How Could I Do the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning,” an article available at In this piece, Nelson describes five different kinds of research on teaching and learning, and provides readings and online resources for each (Nelson, 2000). 14The research question is at the “heart of the design” and influences the purpose, conceptual framework, methodology, collection of data, and other aspects of your study. In framing your research questions about teaching and learning, you may want to consider the following (see Appendix C for work sheet): Table 2 - Framing Your Research Question In framing your research question about Ideas learning you may want to consider: What you hope to find out What, very specifically, you are trying to describe, explain, and/or predict Why your question is important and worthy of investigation Whether your question is answerable Whether your question is practical Whether your question is sound or valid Whether the scope and boundaries are appropriate What you already know about the issue or topic (build from the literature, be critical) What your contribution to this research program/community will be How answering your question will facilitate your purpose Whether your question is sufficient enough to guide your study Whether you have tentative theories or hunches about your question What your working hypothesis might be What types of evidence (data or information) you will need to answer your question Whether there are any ethical issues 15Gathering and Analyzing Evidence After framing your research question, the next step in the process of inquiry is to decide on a suitable research design by which to investigate it. A research design is used to structure the research and to – illustrate how all the major components of the research project – sample, measures, methods work together to address the question. Maxwell (1996) argues that the research method is driven by one focused, but functional question: “What will you actually do” in conducting the research? As with any scholarly work, methodology is critical. If the method used to collect data is not appropriate to the question being asked, analysis of the data will not provide relevant information. As noted by Hubball & Clarke (2010), there is a rich array of methodological approaches that can be used to investigate SoTL research questions in diverse higher education settings (e.g., experimental design, self- study, case study research, grounded theory research, classroom ethnography, implementation analysis, phenomenological study, program evaluation, survey research, longitudinal research). Each of these particular methodological approaches is rooted in different ontological and epistemological assumptions, which influence outcomes for conducting the research (Hutchings, 2000; Kubler & LaBoskey , 2004). The work at this stage is to devise ways to explore questions and, of course, no single source or type of evidence provides a broad enough view of the difficult questions raised around student learning. Selecting an appropriate methodology for your SoTL inquiry will largely depend on situational practicalities and the need to align your methodology with clearly articulated research questions. The clarity of your research questions will also enable you to develop a strong sense of who and how many people you are likely to involve, the data you will need to collect, the conditions under which it will be collected, and the time period involved. Sometimes different types of participants are needed (e.g., groups of students, single learner). Sometimes numbers make sense (quantitative), sometimes more qualitative evidence makes sense, and often a combination of both is necessary to give the fullest possible picture (i.e. mixed method approach). Appropriate combinations of qualitative and quantitative data sources can yield reliable and critical information to enhance your results (Feldman, Paugh & Mills, 2004). This means becoming familiar with approaches that can be totally new and even against the grain (Nelson, 2000). Hubball & Clarke (2010), adapted from Mack, Woodsong, MacQueen, Guest, & Namey (2005), is a very good summary of quantitative and qualitative research approaches that will help you decide on the best methodology to use in your SoTL inquiry. 16Table 3 - Characteristics of Quantitative and Qualitative SoTL Inquiries Quantitative Qualitative • Research Context • Seeks to explore • Seeks to confirm (e.g., broad issues phenomena in educational hypothesis about pertaining to local or settings phenomena institutional initiatives, • Seeks to describe and • Seeks to quantify variation curricula, teaching explain variation and/or or predict causal and/or student learning) relationships in complex relationships about educational settings phenomena • Seeks to describe • Seeks to describe characteristics of an individual experiences educational population and/or group norms in complex educational settings • Research Questions • Closed • Open-ended • Methodological • Study design is stable • Some aspects of study Approach are flexible (e.g., interview • Study design is subject questions) to statistical assumptions and conditions • Some design is iterative - questions are altered • Participants’ responses based on what is learned do not influence or (e.g., interpretative determine the questions analysis) asked or the way these are posed • Participants’ responses influence the questions asked and the way these are posed • Data Collection • Numerical (e.g., surveys, • Textual (e.g., interviews, Methods questionnaires, structured focus groups, document observation) reviews, field notes) Adapted from Hubball & Clarke (2010) 17Your disciplinary context is important in shaping the way you think about and design your approaches to the scholarship of teaching and learning (Hutchings, 2000). In fact, some argue, “developing the scholarship of teaching will only bring about change in ... priorities if it is embedded in disciplines and departments” (Healey, 2000, p. 173; see also Gibbs, 1996). At the same time, Huber (2006) claims, e sc Th holarship of teaching and learning is typically pursued as a kind of practitioner or action research by teachers in their own classrooms, not the circumstances or settings for which the investigative methods used in most disciplines – including education and the learning sciences – are well designed. Doing the scholarship of teaching and learning sits, therefore, at the edge of most disciplines, calling on but also going beyond the normal knowledge practices of most fields (p.72). SoTL research provides a big tent with room enough for all different disciplines and for interdisciplinary approaches, each of which brings rich perspectives as well as various challenges (Hubball & Clarke, 2010). At this point, qualitative and/or quantitative data sources should be selected to align with your research questions so you can meet the needs and conditions of the research context. In gathering and exploring evidence you may want to consider the following research methods: Table 4 - Research Paradigms Quantitative Qualitative Other • Experimental • Ethnography • Mixed Methods Research Randomized (RCT) • Grounded Theory • Action Research • Quasi Experimental • Case Study • Program Evaluation • Single Subject Research • Narrative • Non-experimental • Instructional Design • Phenomenology Research • Descriptive • Curriculum Design • Comparative Research • Correlational • Orientation Research • Ex Post Facto 18Table 5 - Gathering and Analyzing Evidence In gathering and analyzing evidence you may Ideas want to consider: What types of data you need to answer your question (e.g., qualitative or quantitative) What methods you could use to gather the evidence needed, e.g., • Qualitative methods (student interviews, focus groups); • Quantitative methods (grades, course statistics) Whether you have the resources to carry out the methods (e.g., personal experience, campus resources) Whether your audience will find the approaches acceptable (e.g., method is sound or valid) See also Appendix D for an expanded worksheet. Trying Out and Refining New Ideas in the Classroom For those of you who become engaged in conducting research on the teaching and learning that takes place in your classrooms, you will likely find your work leading to change. Inevitably , this process of trying out and refining new ideas is a key element of this type of research. An initial step in this process is establishing a baseline measure in order to understand the point from which you are changing. You begin to think about the process as research and the results as insights to try out and use for improvement. This step in the research process thus focuses attention on making recommendations for change and trying them out in the classroom. Consequently, you must always ask yourself how your findings might encourage people, including yourself and your students, to act. Use your data to make decisions about the question or topic you investigated. For further discussion of the ‘transformational agenda’ of scholar- ship of teaching & learning, see Hutchings (2000). 19Going Public Scholarship of teaching and learning: An agenda of change A central element of the scholarship of teaching and learning is making it public, which enables you to (Adapted from Hutchings, 2000) examine your practice critically and to show it to others who can build upon it (Hutchings & Shulman, 1999). For research on teaching and learning to be properly constituted as scholarship, the study of teaching and • Deeply embedded in your discipline learning must go beyond simple tips and observations of what works for you in your own classroom • “Moments of difficulty” can reflect a field’s theoretical conception of reading and (Gale, 2004). Scholarship must be a formal, systematic process of inquiry that provides evidence of what interpretation works and why, and that evidence must be disseminated, critically reviewed and built upon. • An aspect of your own practice The distinguishing feature of the scholarship of teaching and learning is the element of creating knowledge • A “difficulty paper” can become a central element in teaching rather than an additional for the purpose of transferring it and making it available for others to use and develop (Glassick, Huber, & intervention Maeroff, 1997). Going public means that “the intellectual work of teaching and learning is captured and documented in ways that others can build upon” (Huber & Hutchings, 2005, p.19). As with other forms of • A moving target scholarship, the aims of disseminating research results are to enhance the quality of ideas, to increase • A need to strike a balance between rigor and flexibility to let the investigation and circulation, and to broaden range (Huber & Hutchings, 2005). In addition, the scholarship of teaching and student learning unfold and take shape as the course itself learning also aims to improve practice, a fact which often encourages practitioners to look for new ways of sharing their work. • Transformational agenda • Goal is to foster learning for all students, create stronger curricula, and more powerful Move beyond descriptive work about what you tried and why you liked it. Most published SoTL articles include a conceptual framework, a literature review, and some form of methodology and results section, yet pedagogies depending on the publication, purpose/audience and discipline, the look of these may vary. See Appendix E for an expanded view of Table 6. Going Public A central element of the scholarship of teaching and learning is making it public, which enables you to examine your practice critically and to show it to others who can build upon it (Hutchings & Shulman, 1999). For research on teaching and learning to be properly constituted as scholarship, the study of teaching and learning must go beyond simple tips and observations of what works for you in your own classroom (Gale, 2004). Scholarship must be a formal, systematic process of inquiry that provides evidence of what works and why, and that evidence must be disseminated, critically reviewed and built upon. The distinguishing feature of the scholarship of teaching and learning is the element of creating knowledge for the purpose of transferring it and making it available for others to use and develop (Glassick, Huber, & Maeroff, 1997). Going public means that “the intellectual work of teaching and learning is captured and documented in ways that others can build upon” (Huber & Hutchings, 2005, p.19). As with other forms of scholarship, the aims of disseminating research results are to enhance the quality of ideas, to increase circulation, and to broaden range (Huber & Hutchings, 2005). In addition the scholarship of teaching and learning also aims to improve practice, a fact which often encourages practitioners to look for new ways of sharing their work. Unless you are specifically writing a brief teaching tip note, move beyond descriptive work about what you tried and why you liked it. Most published SoTL articles include a conceptual framework, a literature review, and some form of methodology and results section, yet depending on the publication, purpose/audience and discipline, the look these may vary. See Appendix E for an expanded view of Table 6. 20Table 6 - Disseminating Your Research To disseminate your research results effectively you may want to consider: Sharing results with other researchers Sharing results with students Sharing results with key stakeholders (e.g., general public using popular media) Facilitating the exchange of expertise between research team members and organizations outside of the scholarly community Writing articles for academic, professional journals or for special issues of journals Developing course portfolios Publishing in bulletins and newsletters Sharing at presentations and seminars Contributing to a systematic review (including meta-analysis) Posting on websites and listserves Presenting results at workshops and conferences Discussing at communities of practice Developing other formats identified by research team members and research partners 21Ethics of Conducting Pedagogical Research Knowing that instructors are busy people, and that it is difficult to create a ‘one-size-fits-all’ guide for all the many types of pedagogical research, the following section on research ethics has been created to provide you with the basics to get you started. We hope that it will alert you to some of the more common ethical issues that pedagogical researchers encounter, and that the advice provided will address specific questions you have or, at the very least, help you find the assistance you need to pursue your research interests. Conducting Research at McMaster University Human Participant Protection at McMaster University and its Affiliated Hospitals Research involving human participants is premised on a fundamental moral commitment to advancing human welfare, knowledge and understanding. As a research-intensive institution, McMaster and its affiliated hospitals embrace this commitment. McMaster has also established policies that require all faculty (full or part-time), post-doctoral fellows, graduate students, undergraduate students and staff who conduct research with humans, their records or their tissue, to obtain research ethics clearance before research can begin. Whilst it is standard practice for professors to regularly evaluate the effectiveness of their instructional practices by engaging in quality assurance or quality improvement assessments, these assessments do not require ethics approval. The Tri-Council Policy statement (i.e., the document that guides the ethical conduct of human participant research in Canada) advises that “quality assurance studies, performance reviews, testing within normal educational requirements, should not be subject to REB Research Ethics Board review” (TCPS, 1998, p. 1.1). However, when these data collection activities move past a basic assessment of in-course class activities with the purpose to expand knowledge, and are generalizable beyond the institution, then ethics review and clearance are required. To address the variety of human participant research carried out at McMaster and its affiliated hospitals, three research ethics boards have been established. When determining which board to submit your research to, you can use the following information to make your decision. When in doubt about the board to which to submit your application or about any other research ethics matter, help is just a quick phone call or email away. Research Ethics Boards of McMaster University and its Affiliated Hospitals McMaster Research If you are a faculty member, a staff member, or a student conducting Ethics Board research involving human participants, and are not in the Faculty of Health Sciences or McMaster affiliated hospitals, please go to: Hamilton Health If you are a faculty member, a staff member, or a student in the Faculty Sciences/Faculty of of Health Sciences, &/or you are conducting research at Hamilton Health Sciences Health Sciences &/or its affiliated sites and programs, please go to: Research Ethics Board 22 St. Joseph’s If you are conducting research at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Healthcare Hamilton please go to: Research Ethics Board The Review Process and its Length When research ethics boards receive your protocol (i.e., the completed application and supporting documents such as your letter of information and consent form, posters, flyers, advertisements, email recruitment scripts, your interview guide or other instruments that you are going to use to gather your data, etc.), they determine the level of risk that your research poses to your prospective participants. A number of elements influence how long the review process takes, but submitting a well prepared and complete application form with the required supporting documents goes a long way in reducing the review time. High volume periods can also influence the review time as most members of the research ethics board are also active researchers and professors. Check with the REB to which you will be submitting to discuss review times and submission dates, etc. Many classroom research projects take place in single semester courses and often data collection needs to take place right at the beginning of the course. Because ethics reviews take time, researchers need to plan accordingly. Key Ethical Issues in Pedagogical Research Power Differentials A key issue relates to the dual role of instructor and researcher that professors encounter when conducting projects on pedagogy. Instructors that conduct research on their practice in the classroom should think through the power differentials in the relationships they have with their students and teaching assistants. These power-over relationships can influence how comfortable participants might feel in declining instructors’ invitations to participate in their research. In many projects, the researcher is unknown to the potential participants and recruiting enough participants can sometimes be a significant challenge. Pedagogical research doesn’t generally have that challenge but the dual role of instructor/researcher can pose challenges in regard to student participants’ free choice to take part in an instructor’s study. This is especially the case when the students’ behaviour in a course, their involvement in course activities and their overall performance might be the focus of the research. Putting oneself into the position of one’s participants helps when trying to think about what it would feel like to be asked to take part in the study and what it would feel like if a person didn’t want to take part. Students can be considered a type of “captive population” when their instructor is conducting research and recruits them to participate. Captive Populations A captive audience is understood to mean that the population is dependent on authority figures in their regular life and that this can infringe on their freedom in making decisions about their participation and lessens their autonomy. Students are not the only kind of potential captive population and instructor- researchers are not the only type of investigator who might work with such populations. Examples of other 23

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