Campus News

CELT roundtable to share research on teaching and learning at UK

Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 10, 2023) This year, the University of Kentucky Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT) has facilitated a learning community of graduate students and teaching postdoctoral scholars focused on designing and implementing scholarship of teaching and learning, or SoTL, projects. 

Spanning disciplinary and methodological frameworks, SoTL seeks to understand the effects of curricular design and instructional strategies as well as the nature of student learning experiences in and across specific contexts. For group members, designing their own SoTL projects has been a way to bring their research skills into the classroom spaces at UK.

“Some of us view teaching and research as separate,” said Shawna Felkins, Ph.D., a member of the learning community and teaching postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies. “I think that is a mistake. Our classrooms serve as field sites, labs and spaces for exploration and inquiry. I think the first step to starting a SoTL project is sitting with the big questions that you're left with at the end of every course.”

Those big questions take on a sense of urgency in the context of a rapidly changing educational landscape where the value of innovation and evidence-based practice is rendered in stark relief. The ultimate goal is to provide insights, approaches and tools that the teaching community may use to enhance student learning and success.

The group brought together participants from the departments of Biology, English, Gender and Women’s Studies, and Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. They spent the fall semester designing and setting up studies on topics such as gaming in first-year writing, textbook usage in large biology courses, and threshold concepts in gender and women’s studies. This spring semester, they have been collecting data in their classrooms.

While it can be difficult to conceptualize and execute these kinds of studies in isolation, especially for someone new to SoTL, the learning community provided space and time for participants to undertake this work together in an interdisciplinary environment. For English PhD candidate Jess Van Gilder, the learning community has provided a “collaborative environment to engage in meaningful and exciting conversations about our pedagogy” and “to maximize the learning potential of students in our classrooms.”

CELT is hosting an upcoming roundtable to showcase the studies that have come out of the group from 1 to 2 p.m. Friday, April 21, in The Cornerstone Building’s Esports Theater. Learning community members will showcase their research in progress, share preliminary findings and discuss implications for the future of teaching and learning.

UK faculty, staff and students are invited to hear about the community’s work, engage in dialogue, and learn about the potential of SoTL work across the disciplines. Refreshments will be served; register here.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.