Examples at SU

SoTL research is being conducted across campus at Seattle University. The Center for Faculty Development had the opportunity to sit down with a few of our SoTL authors and here's what they had to share.

Jenny Loertscher: On active learning in Biochemistry classrooms.


Dr. Jenny Loertscher, Associate Professor of Chemistry, is the author of several SoTL publications including journal articles, a column in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, a chapter on classroom assessment in biochemistry classes, and co-author of an active learning Biochemistry workbook.

Loertscher had not been formally trained in education research practices when she started publishing on SoTL, but she was committed to improving her teaching and to publishing about the improvements she was seeing in her classrooms.  Her SoTL work has made her an international name in Biochemistry education which, she said, would not have happened if she had stuck with typical Biochemistry research.

Loertscher had these recommendations for her colleagues who are considering publishing on SoTL:

  • define goals early on  
  • develop connections: "There may be someone in your department who is interested in collaborating. Partnering was critical to my success." 

Loertscher, J. (2010). Classroom assessment in support of biochemistry course reform at Seattle University. In J. Ryan, T. Clark, & A. Collier (Eds.), Assessment of Chemistry. 113–125. Tallahassee, FL: Association for Institutional Research. 

Office: Bannan 613
Phone: (206) 296-5945
Email: loertscher@seattleu.edu

Mark Cohan: On becoming a mentor instead of a harsh critic for the benefit of himself and his students.


The cover story of Change's November/December 2009 issue featured an article by Dr. Mark Cohan, Assistant Professor of Sociology, called "Bad apple: The social production and subsequent reeducation of a bad teacher." Cohan's SoTL article was the product of work he completed at CETL's SoTL Writing Retreat.  In his article, Cohan wrote "The challenge for me…has been to stop projecting who I was as a student onto my students." He further described how his upbringing and initial years as a professor shaped his self-described "bad teaching." In order to become a better teacher, he needed to transform himself outside the classroom.

Cohan had these recommendations for his colleagues who are considering publishing on SoTL:

  • find the right venue for your article. There are publication outlets in your field that will be receptive to SoTL articles. (Check the 'Publishing SoTL Research' link on the left of the screen for a list of publishing outlets.)
  • be strategic about getting your SoTL work supported and counted for tenure. This is "exactly the kind of scholarship that we need." 

Cohan, M. (2009). Bad apple: The social production and subsequent reeducation of a bad teacher. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 41 (6), 32–36.  

Office: Casey 310-08
Phone: (206) 296-6493
Email: mcohan@seattleu.edu 

Bonnie Bowie: On the "You-Attitude" communication approach to writing objectives.

Dr. Bonnie Bowie, Assistant Professor of Nursing, worked on this article at a SoTL Writing Retreat after achieving her goal of improving the feedback she was receiving on her evaluations. In "Clinical Performance Expectations: Using the 'You-Attitude' Communication Approach", Bowie examined the effect of changing her objectives using a positive tone and language students could more easily understand. She wanted to lower students' anxiety about the course by writing the objectives in language that allowed students to envision themselves successfully achieving the clinical objectives. 

Bowie said she may publish again on SoTL once another pedagogical topic sparks her interest: "There are many things we all do that we could write about and share with our colleagues that are very, very helpful and interesting and we don't realize it".

Bowie, B. H. (2010). Clinical performance expectations: Using the 'you-attitude' communication approach. Nurse Educator, 35 (2) 66–68.

Office: Garrand Building 205
Phone: (206) 398-4371
Email: bowieb@seattleu.edu

Below are additional examples of publications by SU faculty on SoTL.

Alaimo, P. J., Bean, J. C., Langenhan, J. M., & Nichols, L. (2009). Eliminating lap reports: A rhetorical approach for teaching the scientific paper in sophomore organic chemistry. Writing Across the Curriculum Journal, 20, 17-32.

Carrithers, D., Ling, T., & Bean, J. (2008). Messy problems and lay audiences: Teaching critical thinking within the finance curriculum. Business Communication Quarterly, 71 (2), 152-170.