Stage 2 - Adequate preparation

Stage 2 - Adequate preparation



Once you have identified an area of your practice that you wish to explore in more detail, and have formulated some clear goals or statements of interest (see stage 1 – clear goals), the next step is to consider how to adequately prepare for your SoTL project. 

When considering if a scholar has prepared adequately for a project, Glassick, Huber & Maeroff (1997a – hyperlink, page 6) proposed the following questions to be considered:

  • ‘Does the scholar show an understanding of existing scholarship in the field?
  • Does the scholar bring the necessary skills to his or her work?
  • Does the scholar bring together the resources necessary to move the project forward?’

The aim here then at this stage is to guide you through these points, in terms of encouraging you to consider:

  • What you need to know, what skills you need to have, and what resources you need in order to embark upon your SoTL project;
  • How to bridge the gap between where you are now (in terms of knowledge, skills, and resources) and what you are aiming for, in order to implement your project;
  • How to actually get started on your project.

By the end of this stage, you should have started, or at least be able to start, your preparation for your project, and have an action plan for the rest of your preparation.

Thus, to get you started in this stage, below are a series of questions grouped according to the development of knowledge, skills, and the necessary resources etc.  for your project.  In addition to helping you to ensure that your SoTL project runs as smoothly as possible, in addressing the questions below you are starting to engage in the process of reflection (a topic which will be addressed in more detail in Stage 5 – Reflection).  Please note that these questions are not meant to be answered exhaustively, but to serve as a resource, thus if some are not helpful to your project then feel free to just skip these.

Knowledge and understanding of existing scholarship
Identifying your current level of knowledge and your desired level of knowledge in relation to your area of investigation

  • What do you already know about this area that you want to work in?
  • How does this relate to what you would like or need to know in order to run your project?

Bridging the gap between current and desired knowledge and understanding - Increasing your knowledge of the area of investigation
To support you in this we have produced a number of links to useful resources for searching and accessing the teaching and learning literature, finding out about conferences, etc.

  • Are there any papers in HE journals on your topic of interest (starting from the most recent ones and working your way backwards as appropriate)?
  • Are there any books on this topic?
  • Does your Higher Education Academy subject centre (hyperlink to this inresources section) have any resources on this - case studies, info about resources, etc.?
  • Are there any conferences/seminars etc. that you could go to soon where this topic will be addressed, or where there may be someone that you could speak to about this?

Starting your preparation – engaging with the literature on the topic

Here are some questions to consider as you are reading the most recent papers on the area that is of relevance to your SoTL project.

  • Write a brief summary of what the current (or most recent) literature says about your selected topic/problem/proposed intervention etc.
  • What work has already been done on this area?
  • Are you convinced by the usefulness of this work?  If so, why?  If not, why not?
  • Consider what interventions/changes etc. as described in the literature you might implement in order to improve your teaching and your support of student learning in this area.
  • Consider how well this previous work might apply to your current teaching situation/context/question/goal.
  • Would any modifications be required?  If so, why?  If not, why not?
  • Could you improve on this previous work in any way?
  • Are there any novel interventions (i.e. any of your own ideas) that you could attempt to implement?
  • On the basis of all you know about the area so far, what is your overall view on the best course of action/implementation for your SoTL project?
  • How can you go about trying to implement this intervention?
  • What steps would you need to take in order to implement this intervention?

Identifying ways of developing the skills you might need to successfully implement your project
The questions below are designed to help you consider how you might bridge the gap between what skills you already have and what skills you would need for your SoTL project.

  • Are there any additional skills that you might need to develop (e.g. implementing a new method of teaching, or increasing your practical knowledge of learning technology, etc.)?
  • If you need to learn new skills, how can you go about learning these?
  • Are there courses you can sign up for? (e.g. run by the Staff Development Service at your university, or IT services, or the Learning and Teaching Centre/Academic development unit, etc.)
  • Are there books you can get, or on-line resources etc.?

Identifying necessary resources and people who might be able to help in the successful implementation of your project

  • What resources might you need to help you implement your project?
  • How can you get access to these resources?
  • In what way might others be able to help you?
  • Can you ask people to share their resources with you?
  • Is there anyone that you could consider collaborating with in this investigation?
  • Can you ask people to share their knowledge and experience with you?
  • Can you ask someone to train and/or mentor you?

Formulating an action plan timetable
At this point it might be useful to bring together your answers all these questions - what you need to know, who might be able to help, and what skills you need to develop for successful completion of your project - in order to devise a practical plan of action to be implemented in the timescale that seems most appropriate for your project.

If helpful, you can download a SoTL Action Plan.

You can then use your answers to the above questions in this table to document your sub-goals regarding the improvement of your teaching and the support of learning (as many or as few as is appropriate) and the steps you hope to take to move towards them. Thus, you may find it helpful to take the overall aim/goal of your SoTL project that you developed at the end of stage 1 – clear goals, and break it down into sub-goals, as is appropriate. Please select the timescales that are most appropriate for your individual project. You may find it helpful to review your progress at each of these
time points that you have indicated.

Glassick, C.E., Huber, M. T., and Maeroff, G. I. (1997). Scholarship assessed: A special report on faculty evaluation.  Presentation to Fifth AAHE Conference on Faculty Roles and Rewards, San Diego, California, January 18, 1997.  Available here.