Western Washington University students have a reputation for contributing to scholarship, research, collaboration, and service, and we here at Western are particularly proud of how they exemplify Western’s motto of “active minds changing lives.” Recently, Western Libraries very own Learning Commons student liaison Kali Legg received recognition for her significant contribution to research and scholarship when she was awarded the title of “Best Student Presentation” at the 2013 International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (ISSOTL) conference.
Kali is an Environmental Science major who has also been actively involved with the Teaching-Learning Academy (TLA) here at Western as both a student participant and also through her role as Learning Commons student liaison. Incorporating voices from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives, TLA was established at Western in 2001 with the mission of creating a community of scholars who could work together to better understand the existing learning culture, share that understanding with others, and enhance the learning environment by exploring multiple views of teaching and learning. It was partly because of her involvement with TLA that Kali was selected to attend the ISSOTL conference and act as a representative of the many exceptional students at Western who are actively engaged in exploring the research and scholarship of teaching and learning. Kali both appreciated and recognized the value of this tremendous opportunity.
“This conference helped me further realize that I have a passion for education—well more for learning. I have a passion for learning. And I felt incredibly fortunate to be able to share and receive ideas about learning from some very brilliant and kind individuals from all over the world…” Kali stated.
Together with Western Libraries staff and faculty Shevell Thibou and Carmen Werder from the Teaching-Learning Academy, along with Tim Costello from the Center for Service Learning, Kali introduced and co-led the session entitled “Transforming Teaching and Learning Cooperatives.” Together they explored a number of “partnering” models and examined the concepts of “co-location,” “collaboration,” and “co-inquiry,” posing the questions: “To what extent are these partnering models distinct and yet interrelated relationships on a continuum? And how might understanding this cooperative continuum model facilitate institutional change for teaching and learning?”
Using case studies, this group was able to provide an analytical model that defined co-location as referring to shared space, collaboration as sharing an interest in reaching a common outcome, and co-inquiry as sharing an interest in addressing a common question. One of the case studies used focused specifically on the Learning Commons, and illustrated how co-location has actually led to collaboration and co-inquiry. Such research is often inspired by the work that is being done in the TLA, which serves as the hub for the study of teaching and learning at Western, and engages student participants in its ongoing dialogue with faculty, staff, and community members.
The annual ISSOTL conference includes faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students from a number of institutions located throughout the world. This international audience responded enthusiastically to Kali’s award-winning presentation, and Kali later explained how this conference was also valuable for her in that it affected her own views about education and the learning experience.
“I have come to realize that learning and learning theory should be present in every discipline. I would like to make what I've learned at the ISSOTL conference present in my learning experience and that of my peers whenever I can, no matter what kind of classroom or working environment I'm in,” Kali explained.
ISSOTL was founded in 2004 by a group of 67 scholars from several different countries, to recognize and promote scholarly communication on teaching and learning, to foster interdisciplinary collaboration and the integration of “discovery, learning and public engagement.” Each year, members of this organization come together to share research and experiences related to the scholarship of teaching and learning. This most recent conference was held October 2-5, 2013 in Raleigh, North Carolina, and focused on the theme of “Critical Transitions in Teaching and Learning.”