SoTL Skills Development Workshop: Searching the Higher Education Literature

Thinking of embarking on a SoTL study and/or seeking evidence-based pedagogical research to inform your teaching practices?  Consider registering for this upcoming workshop on May 11th.

SoTL Skills Development Workshop: Searching the Higher Education Literature
May 11th 2015

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) engages instructors along a continuum of inquiry into their teaching. In all cases a reflective, scholarly instructor regularly consults the academic literature to utilize evidence to inform both their own practice and research.  At the University of Toronto we are fortunate to have liaison librarians to provide expert research services for faculty engaged in all areas of SoTL work.

Fiona Rawle, Senior Lecturer and recent recipient of the inaugural 2015 University of Toronto Early Career Teaching Award, has regularly incorporated librarian services into several of her SoTL projects. For example, Fiona and the UTM Science Education and Research group and their students studied assessment of the impact of a Biology course redesign on scientific thinking skills and worked closely with Mindy Thuna, Science liaison librarian to Biology at UTM (currently on secondment to the Gerstein Science Information Centre), to conduct research on this teaching practice. Studies such as this can have immediate and long-term impact both in the classroom and on the academic teaching and learning community. Fiona explains the team approach in this way:

“Support from the science liaison library has pushed the research of our Science Education and Research group forward because the librarian collaborates with each researcher in the group and fosters further connection and collaboration between group members.”

Librarians, faculty and students benefit from the collaborative work that is being undertaken on SoTL research projects. Mindy notes:

“This collaboration has enabled me to explore alongside them the educational literature that supports and expands on the work that they are already doing in their courses. This has been a wonderful opportunity for me to tweak my own skill set while helping them build their own beyond the traditional discipline specific knowledge base into the broader arena of the scholarship around teaching and learning.”

Liaison librarians offer a wide range of services to faculty, including literature searches both within specific disciplines as well as the broader higher education literature. Mindy will be co-facilitating the May 11th workshop with Monique Flaccavento, Education Liaison Librarian, and Heather Buchansky, Student Engagement Librarian. These librarians will share expert tips and tricks, for both the beginner and the seasoned researcher, for SoTL literature searches, as well as search strategies in the sciences, social sciences and humanities.

For further event details please visit:

To inquire more about the SoTL Network at UofT please email

Mindy Thuna
Monique Flaccavento
Heather Buchansky
Cora McCloy

Re/Design Your Course With CTSI: Join us for our Course Design/Redesign Institute This May

by Erin Macnab, Programs Coordinator, CTSI

As the semester wraps up, it’s time to look forward to the summer and start preparing for the fall semester. On May 20th and 21st, faculty members can get a head start on planning their courses when we host CTSI’s 5th annual Course Design/Redesign Institute (CDI). We invite faculty members looking to create a new course or redesign a course that they have already taught to join us for this valuable learning experience.

Dee Fink’s 2003 book, Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses provides the structure of the CDI. Participants will learn about the five phases of course design: situational factors, learning goals, feedback and assessment, and instruction and lesson planning, and focus on aligning and integrating these elements into their own courses.

The Institute emphasizes a backwards design model, encouraging participants to engage with student learning outcomes to develop the basis for their courses. The cross-disciplinary nature of this 2-day workshop, which invites faculty members from all career stages to join, allows for the sharing of pedagogical ideas and strategies among colleagues, and exposes participants to a wide variety of techniques and practices.

Led by an expert facilitation team (with members from CTSI, U of T Libraries, Online Learning Strategies, and ITS), participants will work collaboratively and individually on their own course, and will leave the Institute with a framework that includes a course outline, a sample lesson plan, and an assessment scheme. Individuals and teams are both welcome.

You can read more about Course Design on our website and access resources there, including further information about past Institutes, but for now I’ll leave you with a few remarks from our past participants across campuses, which highlight how the Institute helps faculty members rethink course design strategies while providing the tools to work within unique academic environments:

“I really appreciated the opportunity (fuelled by the workshop agenda) to think and work together with our group on course design and overall program design.  The exercises and tools got me thinking more creatively (making some of my work easier) and at the same time clarified our next steps (still a daunting task).”
Elaine Aimone, Medicine

“The CTSI Course Design Institute was a valuable experience for me…. I particularly appreciated that the Institute allowed participants to work through the ideas while designing one of their courses. I left the institute with a new plan for an upcoming fourth-year seminar course in Theatre Theory at UTSC, and I know that the course will be much stronger for having emerged from this experience.”
Barry Freeman, Theatre and Performance Studies (UTSC)

“One of the strengths of the CDI that I really enjoyed was that I came up with a specific, relevant road-map to design a course that will be a great learning experience for my students. There are so many elements of the CDI that I refer to again and again.”
Tanya Kirsch, Management (UTM)

“The course design institute has attuned me to the importance of ensuring skills and habits taught/practiced in lecture and tutorials are the same I ask students to demonstrate on exams and major projects.”
Jayson Parker, Biology

To join us on Wednesday, May 20th and Thursday, May 21st for two full days of intensive focus on creating or revamping your course, faculty members should register online before April 20th.