An initiative of the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (OVPUE), Indiana University's SOTL Program draws its day-to-day coordination and research efforts from OVPUE professional staff, who contribute the necessary resources to support instructors of all ranks as they collaborate with like-minded colleagues and engage in various scholarship of teaching and learning projects. A SOTL Steering Committee and an Advisory Council representing faculty, librarians, staff, and administrators from across the campus provide input, address issues, define initiatives and generally shape the campus initiative.
IU's SOTL program is an inclusive, broad-based, cross-disciplinary effort consistent with the research culture of Indiana University Bloomington. The program builds upon the strengths and talents of its world renowned research faculty, encouraging them to view teaching and learning as another opportunity to conduct disciplinary-specific and evidenced-based inquiry. The goal of the program is to improve undergraduate learning. To this end it encourages, supports, and publicizes course-focused research projects that are faculty defined and implemented. The challenge is to move teaching toward an evidence-based and theory-framed endeavor committed to the discovery of new knowledge and to the application of that knowledge into the classroom.
Timeline of Events
The SOTL program has grown from strong and deep roots. IUB has a long institutional tradition of teaching excellence. The SOTL program began in 1998 when a small committee asked: “Given this strong base, what additional approaches would foster the greatest improvements in undergraduate learning at Indiana University Bloomington?”
- Fall 1998. A small committee of faculty, teaching development staff, and the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties asked, "How can we best improve undergraduate learning?" The impetus for a SOTL initiative resulted.
- February 1999. Two hundred IUB faculty members attended a kickoff banquet. In the main presentation, a Chancellor’s [Research] Professor asked, "Why SOTL? Why now?" The event also included other SOTL presentations and remarks by several administrators including IU’s President Myles Brand.
- Spring 1999. Small groups of faculty members discussed ways to engage research faculty in enhancing learning by focusing on existing and new SOTL. These "campus conversations" were part of an AAHE/Carnegie initiative. Broad faculty support for the formation of a SOTL program became evident.
- April 1999. The Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties appointed an Advisory Council to oversee the SOTL Initiative. Members included several deans, an associate vice president, an associate vice-chancellor, IUB’s four Carnegie Scholars, and other award winning professors.
- May 1999. The program initiated seed grants for scholarship in teaching and learning.
- Summer 1999. A faculty team attended IU’s annual Leadership Institute. Their project focused on the new IUB SOTL initiative. Their report to the Advisory Council formed the basis for an expanded initiative.
- Fall 1999. The program initiated an annual series of faculty presentations on their own scholarship in teaching and learning. In the first, the Vice President for Research emphasized the importance of SOTL to the research mission of the university. A key early presentation was a “SOTL jumpstart” designed to give faculty researchers the background and tools for pursing their own new projects.
- Spring 2000. Initiated (and have since continued) a SOTL paper series at the IUB Spring Symposium.
- Fall 2000. Initiated a local course portfolios group as part of a collaborative multi-university Pew-funded initiative. Our IU portfolio group has focused on an inquiry-based (i.e., SOTL) approach.
- Spring 2001. The SOTL initiative received a $5000 “Going Public” grant from AAHE to disseminate the work of “Bloomington Scholars of Teaching.”
- Summer 2002. Samuel Thompson, first leader of the SOTL Program, retires. Jennifer Meta Robinson assumes the leadership role.
- 2000–01, 2001–02, 2002–03. The basic approach set during 1999–2000—presentations, jumpstart and other workshop sessions, and grants—has continued through each year of the program.
- July 2002. A SOTL team received a $6000 grant to attend the AAHE Summer Academy and drafted a plan to broaden faculty participation, further institutionalize the program, and explore additional national leadership roles.
- August 2002. Twenty-seven members of the Bloomington SOTL community participated in a half-day retreat during which they refined and expanded the new plan for future directions. These included expanded support for research projects and exploration of both a possible Ph.D. Minor in SOTL and the foundation of a National Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (in conjunction with faculty elsewhere).
- August 2002. The Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties announced a new $35,000 SOTL Leadership Grant for departments. The first grant awarded to the Department of Anthropology in April 2003.
- September 2002. The Chancellor announced a new IU Bloomington Academy that will start in May 2003 with a focus on Liberal Learning. Five faculty members selected.
- February 2003. The SOTL program was awarded the 2003 Theodore M. Hesburgh Faculty Development Award, $30,000, sponsored by TIAA-CREF.
- March 2003. IU Bloomington named the leader of a Carnegie Academy Campus Program cluster: “Research University Consortium for the Advancement of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning” (RUCASTL).
- Spring 2003. Two more IU Bloomington professors and one IUPUI professor named Carnegie Scholars, bringing IU's total to 8.
- Spring 2003. IU Bloomington planning committee launched the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (IS–SOTL).
- March 2004. The Pew-funded Peer Review of Teaching Course Portfolio Initiative culminates in a conference at lead campus, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. IU Bloomington sends 14 of its 30 course portfolio authors.
- Summer 2004. RUCASTL receives $5000 grant from Carnegie Foundation.
- October 2004. Over 400 scholars from 8 countries attend the inaugural ISSOTL Conference in Bloomington. 75 Bloomington faculty and graduate students present.
- October 2005. ISSOTL members elect 2 from IUB to the executive committee.
- October 2005. Over 630 scholars from 10 countries attend the ISSOTL conference in Vancouver, BC. Fourteen Bloomington faculty members present.
- April 2006. A second $35,000 SOTL Leadership Grant is awarded.
- Spring 2006. The Research University Consortium, led by Indiana University, posts reports of its activity on the web.
- Fall 2006. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching selects Indiana University to participate in their Leadership Program on SOTL and to coordinate a group of 9 institutions who will be "Expanding the SOTL Commons."
- Fall 2009. Indiana University hosts the sixth conference of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Bloomington, Indiana.