Academy to host 12th Annual SoTL Forum

  • Published
  • By Jennifer Spradlin, U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – The Air Force Academy will host its 12th Annual Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Forum virtually, Oct. 27 and 29.

SoTL uses a systematic research approach to understanding teaching and learning to improve student’s academic outcomes. For example, instructors might examine the impact of adding technology to the classroom or the implementation of team-based learning.

This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Jeff Karpicke, a renowned cognitive psychologist from Purdue University who has researched learning and memory in laboratory settings. Results from his lab illustrate the power of retrieval practice to increase learning and how simple re-reading leads to illusions of learning.

The Forum will also highlight Academy faculty members who led a SoTL research project in the last year.

“The SoTL Forum provides a venue to inspire faculty to apply new evidence-based teaching practices and to potentially engage in their own educational research, said Dr. Lauren Scharff, SoTL program director.

“It also gives our faculty another opportunity to share their research and participate in thoughtful discussion across academic disciplines, benefiting the faculty and, by extension, the cadets – whose success and development is our primary focus,” she said.

Dr. Julie Tetley, chief of advising, will speak on the relationship between various motivational, non-cognitive factors such as mindset, grit, self-efficacy, and their influence on GPA.

“I’m quite confident that people succeed in college for many reasons unrelated to their intelligence or IQ,” she said. “If we know what these other factors are, then we can use that information to build programs and a curriculum that is aimed at enhancing these other motivation and non-cognitive factors.”

Tetley said her role as an educator is to help provide all students an equal chance to succeed. Learning strategies are key to helping them build a greater sense of self and leveling the educational divide students might have experienced in their high school learning setting, she said.

Dr. Katherine Bates, director of health professions advising and associate professor of biology, will discuss the relationship between positive mentorship relationships between staff and cadets and their ability to respond to unexpected changes or adversity in the classroom. Specifically, she looked at the sudden shift to online courses as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year.

“Overall, our results indicate that online education benefits from strong relationships and lines of communication between faculty and students,” Bates said. “To facilitate stronger relationships between instructors and students in both online and traditional environments, there are many techniques and strategies that can be implemented.” 

In past years, faculty and administrators from the Front Range have made the trip to the Academy to attend the SoTL Forum. This year, the virtual nature of the SoTL Forum will make it more easily accessible to those beyond the Academy’s faculty and cadets.

The Forum will culminate with a synchronous online discussion session where attendees can talk with the faculty about their research. See the SoTL Forum website for details: