How did this Open Education Research come to be? Incorporating Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) in my practice

In October 2018, I attended BCcampus’ Symposium 2018: Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) – a one-day event in Vancouver where faculty, staff, and participants practising SoTL activities came together to share ideas, practices, strategies, activities, tools, and resources that have made a difference in their teaching and enhanced students learning.

Post by Florence Daddey, senior instructional designer and sessional faculty at Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC), BCcampus Open Education Advocacy and Research Fellow

Over the years, I’ve found the SoTL Symposium and other conferences organized by BCcampus beneficial since they provide me with many opportunities to network and learn from colleagues from other post-secondary institutions in British Columbia.

Reflecting on my own practice and interest in SoTL, I was inspired by a workshop I attended at the 2016 Festival of Learning. Facilitated by Peter Arthur (UBC – Okanagan), Gary Hunt (Thompson Rivers University – TRU), and Ido Roll (University of British Columbia – UBC), the interactive workshop,“Designing a Scholarly Inquiry Project”, provided participants the opportunity to design a research project from start to finish while applying the steps in the research process framework.

Gathering courage to incorporate SoTL activities in my already busy schedule would not have happened without the encouragement of my director, Tannis Morgan, and colleague, Krista Lambert, (both seconded to BCcampus from JIBC), who provided guidance and direction; as well as my colleague Marjory Jardine, JIBC Librarian, with whom I collaborated on a few SoTL activities.

My interest in teaching and learning has propelled me to think about research in a new way – asking questions about my own teaching practice and ways in which I can improve and support student learning, including how to remove barriers and obstacles for students. The open education resource (OER) movement, in particular, BCcampus’ efforts supporting the creation of open and free educational resources, provides students in British Columbia post-secondary institutions significant financial savings. Since 2012, students have saved over 10 million dollars on textbook costs.

Further, JIBC’s strategic goals and priorities include a commitment to the open educational movement. JIBC is a part of the Zed Cred (zero cost for textbooks) initiative and is working to make the Law Enforcement Studies Diploma program have zero textbook costs for students.

As one of the 2018 BCcampus Open Education Research and Advocacy Fellows, I’m excited to see the growth and opportunities that OERs offer in terms of promoting new and current resources and tools. I’m also thrilled about the progress that JIBC is making with the Zed-Cred initiative. Students are excited because they are able to complete homework assignments, partially due to the fact that textbooks are free. Hearing students’ voices – those who are impacted by the OER experience – is important.

Source: Creative Commons

So, I’m on a journey and my goal is to complete a SoTL research project in 2018/2019! The purpose of my research study is to capture student voices and experiences using zero-cost textbooks in their program at JIBC and the impact on their lives. Several research studies have investigated the impact and cost savings of open textbooks for students. My research specifically intends to examine the validity of the assumption that the use of open education resources benefits students and, if so, in what ways and to what extent.

As always, embarking on any research project presents its own challenges and opportunities. Engaging in SoTL and applying the steps in the research process has presented me with many learning opportunities, such as understanding the role of the Research Ethics Board and the process required for approval. There have been a number of unexpected twists and turns so far, including:

  • Interacting with JIBC Research Ethics Review Board, I found it’s common to resubmit ethics applications several times before approval.
  • Making changes to the initial methodology:
    • Increasing the sample size to increase the response rate
    • Extending the survey completion date to increase the response rate
    • Changing the data collection method, since very few students volunteered to participate in a face-to-face interview
    • Changing the time for launching the survey and questionnaire (so it is not close to exam time)

Next steps:

I’m learning to be open and to embrace every step and experience, positive or negative, as a learning opportunity. Seeking advice and asking for support from colleagues, the other BCcampus Fellows, and the BCcampus support team was challenging initially, but I quickly realized and appreciated those support networks. I’m persevering and looking forward to completing the next steps – data analysis and writing the report to share the results!

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