Fostering “Possible” and “Ideal” SoTL Agents through “Holding, Transitional Spaces”

Mannix, Valerie (2013) Fostering “Possible” and “Ideal” SoTL Agents through “Holding, Transitional Spaces”. In: 10th annual Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) Conference. Critical Transitions in Teaching and Learning, October 2 – 5, 2013, North Carolina, United States.


To date, there has been much ongoing research on faculty attitudes and training needs to respond to new higher education challenges pertaining to teaching and learning (Olsson and Roxå, 2012; Elkington and Lawerence, 2012; Fernández Díaz et al., 2010) and the effectiveness of educational faculty development (Amundson and Wilson, 2012). There has also been much research undertaken on the influence of context on teaching approaches (Biggs, 1999; Prosser and Trigwell, 1999; Sameulowicz and Bain, 2001; Lea and Callaghan, 2012). It would seem, however, that there has been less debate around the issue of what constitutes professional SoTL identity development and how faculty may be encouraged and motivated to embrace SoTL, thereby becoming “possible” and “ideal” SoTL agents as part of their professional identity. This paper reopens the question of how the concept of a SoTL identity workspace could be defined or perceived as a “holding transitional space” (Winnicott, 1975) for “identity work” and “identity play” of “possible” and “ideal” SoTL practitioner/ agents. It is suggested that the concept of a “holding transitional space”, based on the work of Winnicott (1975), Petrigilieri et al (2010) and Ibarra and Petriglieri (2010), might refer to an integrated space where individual and collective “identity work” and “identity play” are hosted. In the context of SoTL, this may refer to the hosting of multiple and integrated spaces enabling adaption and relatedness between the self and SoTL environment, thereby contributing to the potential construction of both individual and collective SoTL identities (communities of practice and wider SOTL networks) in order to integrate across wider SoTL frameworks. The paper also draws on preliminary qualitative research undertaken at Waterford Institute of Technology in 2013, which investigated through individual interviews and focus groups, the perceptions of 20 members of academic staff in regard to their multiple professional identities, their conceptions of teaching and research and their perceptions of their possible and ideal selves as SoTL agents. The study also focused on their perceptions of the ideal SoTL workspace and how best this may be facilitated or hosted through educational development programmes. The findings of the study revealed the impact of micro- and macro contextual variables such as university, social, political and economic constraints in pursuit of scholarly teaching and dissemination of research. Some of the characteristics of a supportive SoTL “holding transitional” environment advocated by participants included high-level administrative commitment and support and understanding of teaching context; frequent interaction, collaboration and community among faculty (also as sources of informative feedback); access to faculty development programms or campus teaching centre; supportive and effective department chairs; sense of faculty involvement, shared values and a sense of ownership and autonomy. The presentation and participant discussion will explore these questions based on the literature and the findings of the research project. It will also draw on the session participants’ own experiences in order to better understand what constitutes professional SoTL identity development and how faculty may be encouraged and motivated to embrace SoTL.

[thumbnail of ISSOTL-2013-eProgram.pdf]

Download (28MB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

View Item