Invited Scholars Seminars – Connie Schroeder – 2005


Going Meta with SoTL:  Research-Based Frameworks as the Missing Link between SoTL and Institutional Initiatives.

SoTL findings that unpack student learning risk being dismissed as separate bits of inquiry. The scope of their value is often seen as limited to the improvement of a specific course only. Hutchings and Shulman (1999) propose, “A scholarship of teaching requires a kind of ‘going meta,’ in which faculty frame and systematically investigate questions related to student learning…and do so with an eye not only to improving their own classroom but to advancing practice beyond it” (p. 13). Unfortunately, ‘going meta’ is often overlooked, and the value of SoTL evidence is underplayed.

SoTL’s migration from the margins of the classroom rests squarely on whether others can see how SoTL’s narrower questions and findings advance practice beyond. Often overlooked are the broader questions of student learning that both shape and stem from SoTL and are of relevance to curricular or institutional initiatives. What are the points of intersection between the larger questions about student learning that are of shared institutional and departmental value and the narrower scope of SoTL? How can colleagues move beyond the specificity of SoTL evidence to locate their questions about student learning? How can existing knowledge of student learning make these common points visible?

Broader questions about student learning may be starting points for curricular reform and institution-wide initiatives, but seem far removed from narrower SoTL inquiry. Yet both efforts derive insight by examining research-based frameworks of student learning, including the NSSE Benchmarks and The Seven Principles of Good Practice. Can these frameworks serve as a turnstile for directing departmental curriculum reform questions and institutional initiatives toward broad-based research or back toward framing narrower SoTL questions and findings?

Participants of this seminar will identify key campus initiatives and the drivers that shape these priorities, and determine how they could be linked to enhancing student learning. Working backward from the common ground of existing campus priorities and enhancing student learning, participants will explore how to connect existing campus need for change with highly regarded research-based frameworks of student learning, including the Seven Principles of Good Practice and NSSE. Participants will use research-based frameworks of student learning, including the Seven Principles of Good Practice and NSSE, to practice analyzing five years of SoTL questions and findings for common themes of student learning reflected in these frameworks.

Using this model, seminar participants will analyze their existing campus-based SoTL questions and findings for common themes of student learning that are in alignment not only with accepted and valued research based frameworks, but already identified campus needs. Integrating knowledge of organizational change theory in the context of higher education, participants will examine models of how campus needs can provide an opportunity to align broader based research with campus based SoTL questions and findings, and ultimately, inform broader campus initiatives.

Connie Schroeder’s Bio

Connie Schroeder joined UW Milwaukee in January 2002 as the Assistant Director of the Center for Instructional and Professional Development (CIPD). Her work at CIPD includes assisting with the Center Scholar SoTL program now in its sixth year,  developing faculty learning communities and programs for new faculty and academic staff, developing summer programs for dialogue around teaching, learning, and assessment,  coordinating CIPD’s spring programs and the Classroom Assessment  Program (CAP),  arranging individual consultations and mid-semester course focus groups, serving as lead instructor for the graduate course for future faculty, “Teaching and Learning in College: Reflection on Theory and Practice,” developing assessment support for department programs, and coordinating the Freshman Seminar Retreat. Dr. Schroeder specializes in creating opportunities for faculty learning communities to investigate learning and explore new conceptualizations of and innovative practices that enhance learning.  She works closely with the Director, Tony Ciccone, in bringing attention to student learning through promoting the scholarship of teaching and learning at UWM and developing a culture that supports teaching and learning.

Dr. Schroeder has been involved in higher education administration since 1984. As an Associate Dean at Beloit College for nearly a decade, she worked closely with student affairs, first year seminars and academic affairs. Based on her major was in Educational Administration-Higher Education and her minor in the School of Business in organizational behavior at UW Madison, her doctoral research at identified the factors that enable or impede faculty involvement in change surrounding teaching and learning in academic departments. Her findings led to developing a template for chairs, deans, and faculty to use in cultivating the conditions that facilitate the development of faculty change agents.

Dr. Schroeder’s research interests center on organizational change in higher education, particularly change in faculty teaching practices within the context of academic departments. She has recently published, Evidence of the transformational dimensions of the scholarship of teaching and learning:  Faculty development through the eyes of SoTL scholars” in To Improve the Academy, 23, 2005. She has just been awarded the Professional and Organizational Development Grant to examine faculty development’s changing role in broader campus initiatives, including assessment, retention, and First year experiences. In addition to numerous campus presentations, her recent national presentations have included: 2005 AAHE in Atlanta, Going Meta with SoTL:  Research-based Frameworks as the Missing Link between SoTL and institutional Initiatives; 2004 at POD in Montreal, Dialogues in Diversity: Constructivist vs. Prescriptive Faculty Development; 2003, in Denver, Marcel Proust and SoTL: Paradox, Metaphor, and Vision; 2002, “Liminality in Teaching and Learning: Higher Education’s Rite of Passage” and 2001, “Those Who Dare to Dream: Faculty Involvement as Change Agents, based on her dissertation, for which she was awarded the POD Menges Research Presentation Award.


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