Stage 4 – Dissemination

Stage 4 – Dissemination


At some point in your SoTL project you will want to consider disseminating its outcomes.  What are you going to do with the results of your project?

Looking at the current literature there appears to be a consensus that it is necessary to make SoTL public, be open to reflective critique and scrutiny, and to build upon previous work and/or be able to be built upon. (Trigwell et al., 2000; Hutchings and Shulman, 1999; Glassick et al., 1997)

“… good communication means not just good teaching but scholarship in all its forms.  All scholarship must become “community property” through effective communication.”   (Glassick, Huber, & Maeroff, 1997, page 4)

Could it be said that a good scholar will be a good communicator?

When we think of ‘making public’ our efforts in scholarship, most academics look towards the traditional methods: conference paper, peer-reviewed journal article; book chapter etc.  With SoTL there is a need to think more broadly, identifying other appropriate forms that our scholarly output can take e.g. course/teaching portfolio; case studies; facilitating workshops for other staff to participate in etc.

Hutching and Shulman suggest that it is important that the appropriate method for making the results of a SoTL project available is used.  With SoTL “… there remain issues surrounding method and rules of evidence, and therefore to issues of rigor and credibility.” (Hutching and Shulman, 1999)

It is therefore worthwhile giving consideration to how the scholarly output is likely to be evaluated.  Glassick, Huber, & Maeroff (1997) put forward an assessment model with respect to dissemination that asks the following:

  1. 'Does the scholar use a suitable style and effective organisation to present his or her work?
  2. Does the scholar use appropriate forums for communicating work to its intended audience?
  3. Does the scholar present her or his message with clarity and integrity?'

At this point it is worth giving consideration to your intended audience as this will guide you on how best to communicate to them using the most suitable type of dissemination. 

  • Is the work most appropriate to teaching colleagues in your department? 

If this is the case you may wish to arrange a departmental seminar/meeting to disseminate your findings.

  • Would your work be useful to teachers in other departments within the same institution?

Give consideration to presenting your work at an institutional seminar/conference.

  • Would it be useful to teachers within your discipline in other institutions?

If so, consider producing a case study for the appropriate Higher Education Academy (HEA) Subject Centre, or produce a paper for publication in a discipline-specific teaching journal, or present at a discipline-specific teaching conference?

  • Would it be useful to teachers in other subject areas of other institutions?

If so, consider a paper to a more generic teaching journal or presentation at a generic teaching conference.

  • Would there be a requirement for training to allow others to implement changes suggested by the outcomes of your project?

If so, a workshop could be considered, or an on-line resource / tutorial, or a port folio could be written and made available on-line. Perhaps you could even consider mentoring other staff, as a form of disseminating your knowledge (Weston & McAlpine, 2001).

  • Would there be a need for institutional change to allow your work to be implemented?

If so, consider running a seminar / workshop for Heads of Department, Faculty Deans, Learning and Teaching Staff

  • Would your work interest the general public?

If so, consider writing an article for the press, radio or TV news.

It is a worthwhile process to canvas feedback from colleagues on the quality of your project initially.  This will provide you with the encouragement to move forward either developing the project further or to consider where to take your output.  You could therefore consider obtaining such feedback either informally, through conversations, or more formally, by presenting a talk to your peers.  Peers also can give useful feedback regarding whether a suitable style and effective organisation has been utilised in the proposed dissemination, and also whether the message is presented with clarity and integrity.

What is important is that sight is not lost on the main aim of SoTL, to encourage/foster learning.

“… scholarship of teaching is about making transparent, for public scrutiny, how learning has been made possible.”

“… if teaching is to be seen as a form of scholarship, then the practice of teaching must be seen as giving rise to new knowledge."  (Trigwell et al. 2000)

More information about dissemination can be found elsewhere on this site - why we should disseminate; journals; other resources.

Questions for reflection
1. What methods of dissemination have you considered for your SoTL project, and are there any others that you would consider?

2. Would dissemination to the learner(s) be sufficient to consider the work of a project to be worthy of SoTL?

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.

Hutchings P., Shulman LS., 1999.  The Scholarship of Teaching: New Elaborations, New Developments.  Change: 10 (5), 10-15.

Trigwell, K., Martin, E., Benjamin, J., and Prosser, M. (2000). Scholarship of Teaching: a model, Higher Education Research and Development, 19:2, 155 — 168.

Weston C, B., McAlpine L., 2001.  Making Explicit the Development Toward the Scholarship of Teaching.  New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 86:8, 89 – 97.