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SoTL Clusters: Faculty-focused Needs-Based Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Support

Journal of College Science Teaching—January/February 2024

By , ,

To further teaching and learning, there has been a push to engage faculty to pursue research on teaching. With the recognition that science research often occurs in research teams, we sought to create a research-cluster approach to support faculty engaging in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). This article describes a faculty-focused process for co-designing and implementing a SoTL Clusters approach to supporting faculty. Faculty shifting from disciplinary research to engaging in SoTL research identified several needs, including recognition for SoTL work, mentorship (in SoTL work), reducing investigator isolation, providing funding, and promotion. By engaging faculty in a needs-based design process to identify relevant components for the program, the resulting SoTL Clusters model had a strong uptake by STEM faculty. Evaluation findings two years after the launch at a comprehensive university indicated that the program addressed most needs, including peer networking, prioritizing time for SoTL, skills development, and publishing; additional considerations for communication and publishing were suggested. This process of needs-based design and the SoTL Cluster model offers a promising informed approach to co-creating SoTL supports that address needs and is responsive to the disciplinary and institutional context, particularly for STEM educators.

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