CHS Collaborating with CELT in first-ever Faculty Learning Community for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

By Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director

Two professors in the College of Health Sciences are collaborating with the Center for Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT) to present the College’s first interprofessional Faculty Learning Community for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL FLC).

Since August, Janine L. Schmedding-Bartley, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, and Leslie Woltenberg, PhD, MSEd, have been — with the help of Trey Conatser of CELT — presenting curriculum for the monthly meetings, which can focus on topics like “Research Design and Data Collection for SoTL” and “Software and Other Tools for Qualitative Data Analysis.”

“The goals are to help establish a core knowledge in SoTL and facilitate collaboration whereby SoTL research can be pursued within the College,” Woltenberg said. “And of course — all this, with the ultimate goal of continuous improvement of teaching and learning.”

The Faculty Learning Community will explore the possibilities and procedures of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, particularly for faculty participants who have been trained in and practice health sciences research methods. Envisioned as a two-part, two-year program, the FLC will meet once a month for 60-90 minutes. The first semester (Fall 2022) will focus on learning about SoTL from both interdisciplinary and health sciences perspectives (e.g., design considerations, methods, examples), after which participants may choose to continue for the remaining three semesters (Spring 2023 – Spring 2024) in designing, implementing, analyzing, and writing up a SoTL project either as individuals or in teams.

The program includes an inaugural cohort of 11 scholars from eight CHS programs (Athletic Training, Clinical Leadership and Management, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Human Health Sciences, Medical Laboratory Sciences, Physician Assistant Studies, Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation and Health Sciences). Once this cohort concludes, it is the hope of Woltenberg and Schmedding-Bartley that they can begin with another group.

The pair had been brainstorming the idea since Spring of this year and it has been a research area for both. While Schmedding-Bartley is an SoTL scholar within her discipline, Woltenberg previously supported University learning community programs, like the undergraduate Living Learning Communities and the Interprofessional Education Faculty Fellows and Associates. 

“Given our interest, collaboration and passion for teaching and learning, an SoTL FLC presents a perfect opportunity to pilot in CHS,” Woltenberg said. “Trey is such an incredible colleague and has tremendous expertise —collaborating with CELT is invaluable and a natural fit for this concept.”

“Even as we work on teams for our research or administrative work, teaching can sometimes feel like an individual pursuit,” said Conatser, Acting Director of the Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching. “But when teacher-scholars collaboratively engage in inquiries around curricular design, pedagogy, teaching strategies and student learning, they benefit from — and add to — their colleagues' expertise, experiences and perspectives across disciplinary lines. Moreover, we all benefit as these educators inspire further reflection and innovation among the larger teaching community at UK. Faculty learning communities offer participants a structured and sustained format for pursuing this important work as we continue to face challenges both new and perennial for teaching and learning in higher education.”

If the response after the kickoff meeting is any indication, the participants are finding the meetings more than worthwhile.

“It was pretty amazing,” said Chris Swartz, PhD, MLS, (ASCP) CM, and assistant professor in Medical Laboratory Science. “It was a very collegial and welcoming atmosphere. Everyone participating in the SoTL FLC is committed to improving their teaching abilities, and dedicated to providing engaging learning opportunities to the students enrolled in their courses. “The importance of the Faculty Learning Community is that faculty members representing numerous programs in CHS are brought together in a collaborative environment, and the program will not only help to build bridges between different graduate, professional and undergraduate programs in the College of Health Sciences, but it will also serve to develop a research portfolio for CHS dedicated to the scholarship of teaching and learning.” 

“At the University of Kentucky, we understand the value of leveraging research and scholarship to effect positive change in the world,” Conatser said. “We also know the value of understanding students' learning experiences, as well as how our choices as instructors impact student learning and perspectives. The scholarship of teaching and learning SoTL includes a range of approaches and methodologies all with the aim of identifying ways of improving instructor and student success. SoTL work is important because it treats teaching—and research on teaching—as a serious intellectual endeavor, and it asks us to examine our curricula, pedagogy, and learning environments with a critical eye. It's significant that this faculty learning community in the College of Health Sciences is taking the scholarship of teaching and learning as its focus; the insights from the participants' work will not only inform their own teaching but also the teaching of their colleagues in the health professions and beyond.”

Inaugural Cohort of CHS SoTL FLC members: Janine Bartley (CSD), Catherine Gohrband (PT), Hannah Hoch (AT), Sarah Kercsmar (CLM), Joneen Lowman (CSD), Peter Meulenbroek (CSD), Chris Swartz (MLS), Mollie Taylor (RHB), Cheryl Vanderford (PAS), Jami Warren (HHS), Leslie Woltenberg (PAS).

And soon, you’ll be able to listen to an SoTL episode on the CELT Podcast Network.