Presentations on campus provide an opportunity to show your colleagues and institution what the FLC has produced.
If you have more than one FLC in your FLC Program, another presentation approach is to have a teaching and learning expo that consists of posters that members of your FLCs present. This provides an excellent PR opportunity (invite the president, provost, and deans). It is also a way to recruit for the coming year.
Peer-reviewed presentations at national conferences make the projects presented into SoTL enhance the prestige of your FLC, and share the findings of FLC individuals and teams with colleagues in higher education.
The following document gives some strategies for reassuring and encouraging faculty to make a presentation on campus or at a conference.
Individual or small group presentations at a campus seminar, workshop, or retreat, are usually 40 to 45 minutes in length. At Lilly Conferences, there may be some available at 60 or 75 minute time intervals. Poster sessions are also a possibility, especially if this is your first foray into presenting SoTL. Your audience will include people from a variety of disciplines.
You may have concerns about presenting about teaching and learning on campus and at a national teaching conference. After all, it takes years to become qualified in your discipline. However, the topic of teaching and learning in higher education is a new discipline where there are relatively few experts. All instructors are welcome to share innovations that add to the growing, but small knowledge base of teaching and learning in higher education. (The discipline of K-12 education is much more established, so don’t confuse the two.)
The culture at these retreats and conferences is supportive, not competitive. They are not the same as disciplinary conferences where often one’s role becomes critical and competitive. You will find that your audience will be helpful and positive in offering suggestions and references for your further investigation. They will welcome you to a community that is developing the scholarship of teaching.
Consider a progress report which includes your initial problem or opportunity, your proposed solution, and what you have done so far. If you have the learning outcome results from the first semester, that is a bonus. If the results are disappointing, they are still worth reporting so that others may modify a try at the same thing. Those in your audience may have suggestions, and that “helpful, contributing feeling” is a positive one for an audience member.
If there is a teaching and learning topic from a seminar or experience that has interested you, do some background reading and present on this, for example, decentering your classroom, student intellectual development, writing, using group work, etc. This might be particularly interesting as a team presentation in which more than one discipline is involved.
Consider the possibility of presenting with one of your learning community colleagues, your mentor, and/or your student associate. In this case, your FLC Program might be able to fund your team member’s journey to a Lilly Conference.
The whole group may wish to do a presentation about the community topic or your cohort group experience: For example, the experience of junior faculty members or senior faculty members, or learning about a topic such as problem-based learning across several disciplines.
Be sure to have handouts that include any overheads or PowerPoint. To make your presentation scholarly, include references to articles or books you have cited or read in order to learn what others have done or what has helped form your solutions to a teaching problem or opportunity.
Be sure to allow 25% of your time for this. Audience members want to share their experience with you and the group. Sometimes people will say that this is the most important part of your session. Take a deep breath and sacrifice content for dialogue.
If your topic is learning in groups, include a small group activity in your session; if it is about classroom assessment techniques, include one in your session.
If your session is about writing, include some student writing; if it is about student intellectual development, include some student work illustrating movement on some scale; if it is about using the Web, include some student reports.
Your session will be evaluated by the participants. Use this feedback to improve your presentation for the next time.
Consult your learning community facilitator and FLC Program Director as to the suitability of writing up your session as a manuscript for a referred journal or an article in a teaching magazine.
This project has been supported in part by grants from the US Department of Education Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE) and the Ohio Board of Regents.