Good Beginnings: Launching Imagining SoTL

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Writing this introduction is an exciting moment as we prepare to launch this new SoTL journal, which provides a forum to highlight the work shared at the annual Banff Symposium for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. We called it Imagining because of the inspirational Blackfoot translation of Mount Royal University’s (MRU’s) Institute for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Leo Fox, of the Kainai Nation, offered the translation, ksimstaani, which can also be translated into English as “imagining.” Thus, the journal is called Imagining SoTL: Selections from the Banff Symposium. We intend to speak to the aspirational nature of SoTL, its inherent hopefulness.

When the editorial board and I began this project, it was pre-pandemic. At the symposium, in November 2019, we had no idea what 2020 would bring. These papers were conceptualized in that pre-pandemic time, but the work of review and revision happened while all of us were coping with a radically changed and changing context. In this sense, the editorial board and I are especially proud to bring this first issue to light, and we appreciate the tenacity of the authors through this tumultuous period.

This first issue includes ten articles, which demonstrate the breadth of scholarship inherent in SoTL: in methodology, in discipline, and in context. Methodologically, this issue spans quantitative and qualitative approaches, including such methodologies as applied hermeneutics, narrative inquiry, and post-structural approaches. Disciplines represented include health sciences, STEM, justice studies, general education, social work, faculty development, education, and studies that span an institution. All authors presented at the 2019 Banff SoTL Symposium (Engaging Students, Engaging Faculty), hailing from Alberta, Canada, and the U.S.

Several of these articles take a close look at pedagogies that make a difference in student learning. Anderson (pages 130–145) takes a deep dive into the use of Student Responses Systems in STEM, while Fantazir and Bartley (pages 3–24) present a compelling look at the gamification of a Justice Studies course. McCrory-Churchill and Clay (pages 25–40) research the difference between providing ongoing feedback to students in a writing-intensive course, rather than providing primarily late-semester feedback, showing the difference that formative feedback can make to students’ writing and reflective learning.

Some articles leave us with more questions than answers, such as Easton and Hewson’s (pages 41–57) theorization of students’ creation of Canadian superheroes, exploring the complexity of student perceptions of national identity and exposing some of the narratives we tell ourselves—a conversation that has never seemed more urgent than now.

Three articles lean into the faculty development side of SoTL, with Hamilton and Simmons (pages 58–76) describing the revitalization of mid-career faculty through engagement in SoTL while Simmons and Simmons (pages 122–129) explore the possibilities of using theatrical approaches in a SoTL workshop. Grant, Fedoruk, and Nowell (pages 146–162) reflect on engagements in authentic assessment practice.

Finally, three articles focus on students and faculty members engaging in new ways. Popovic, Kim, Saleh, and Farrugia (pages 99–115) offer a narrative account of a research partnership between faculty members and undergraduate students. Haney, Dean, Chronik, and Creig explore their partnership through an audio piece (short narrative found on pages 116–121 along with the link to the audio), and we are excited to include this alternative format as part of our inaugural issue. Finally, Field, Blackman, and Francois (pages 77–98) explore nuances of the graduate student-supervisor relationship.

As I consider the ground covered by these articles at the close of 2020, I feel hopeful. This year has brought another change: the MRU Institute for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning has been restructured and renamed. We have become the Mokakiiks Centre for SoTL, and we are honoured with the gifting of a Blackfoot name from Miiksika’am, Elder Clarence Wolfleg. Mokakiiks means “lodge for wisdom”—a place where wise people gather to learn together, become wiser, and pass this wisdom on to future generations. Publication of this issue is our first act under the new name, and we might think of this journal as a kind of wisdom lodge itself, where learning about teaching is created and shared for the benefit of faculty members’ practice and the students they teach.

I would like to take the opportunity here to thank those who walked with me in making this journal a reality: the editorial board, Deb Bennett, Karen Manarin, Erika Smith, and Cherie Woolmer; our copyeditor, Angela Waldie; and our production assistants, Julianna Gagliardi and Bree Smith. I would also like to thank the MRU Library for support in creating an open access journal and, in particular, Richard Hayman.

We have had to postpone the 10th annual Symposium for SoTL to 2021. We look forward to seeing you there.

Michelle Yeo, PhD


Imagining SoTL

How to Cite

Yeo, M. (2021). Good beginnings: Launching Imagining SoTL. Imagining SoTL, 1,1-2