From the Editor…
Recently, I was attempting to explain to non-academics why I continue in a profession that is often underfunded and underappreciated. I ended up simply describing the feeling I get when walking across a university campus, something I first felt as an undergraduate. I belong in this place of learning. The challenges, frustrations, discoveries, and joys of higher education produce a unique environment where people can come together to test their limits and expand their understanding. I thoroughly enjoy being a part of such an environment, and what could be better than sharing my love of literature with others? Yet, my enthusiasm for learning does not necessarily mean that I am using the best methods or practices when I teach or that my students are actively aware of their learning processes. Rather, it is through trial and error, peer exchanges, and involvement in the SOTL community that I move beyond a feeling and gain a scholarly perspective of what it is that I can offer students and, in turn, how students can engage with their own learning.
In the opening editorial, Professor Dan Bernstein of the University of Kansas expands on this important topic by considering the recent history of the scholarship of teaching and learning and arguing that now is the time to embrace teaching as a serious intellectual endeavor. He maintains that scholarly activity involving evidence and peer review can help us enlarge on what constitutes excellence in teaching. Not only will we become better educators, but this approach will also help us to prove that we are deliberate and thoughtful in our actions.
Adding to the conversation are eight other insightful essays about teaching and learning, spanning multiple disciplines and using a variety of methodologies. The three essays succeeding Bernstein’s editorial examine how students can benefit from reflecting on their learning experiences, whether it is in the context of learning how to teach, transferring skills to other disciplines, or simply determining what stood out in a particular class period. The fourth article considers how well undergraduate degree programs prepare students for a graduate degree in social work and what the implications are for curricula design. The next article describes a group project with real world application, while the following two essays investigate the phenomena of resistant students and how to best work with them. The final essay provides a status report of where SOTL stands in the field of public administration. I am thrilled to present you with such compelling scholarship, and I look forward to continuing the conversation in the next volume.
Many thanks to Jamie Els for her hard work and dedication to the journal, Patricia Marsh for her APA editing prowess, and B. Jean Mandernach for her continued support. The journal also would not exist without the efforts of our talented peer reviewers – thank you.
– Stacey Kikendall, PhD