Ways of Writing about or Presenting Creative/Professional Work

If the goal of engaging in SoTL research is to understand effective teaching and improve student learning, any work that helps capture new learning techniques or evidence of enhanced student learning can contribute to this goal.

Multimedia programs that enable the combination of text, pictures, audio and video files have expanded the possibilities for capturing and presenting these techniques and evidence, as well as enabling a greater variety of creative works or products to be disseminated as such.

Artists, educators, and other professionals can therefore still write about their work using traditional text-based formats or choose a medium or mixture of mediums that allow them to showcase the unique qualities of their projects to a wider audience outside their discipline.

Traditional Writing

Methods of writing about SoTL work that does not fall in the category of traditional empirical research are described in the article by Dr. Nelson and the excerpts from Dr. Merriam within this website. The same caveat in utilizing any of these styles exists as for writing about technical research in your field to outsiders, ensure you have defined your terminology.

  • Writing about qualitative, creative or other professional work can be tailored to the widest possible audience by ensuring that the evaluative standards or criteria used in the discipline are explained.
  • That is, explanation of the standards used for the grading or assessment of artistic or student work in a discipline :
    • Creates common bridges between disciplines
    • Makes your work accessible to as wide an audience as possible.

Creating this common ground does not necessarily mean that the same language will be used to write about the work of very different disciplines. Instead, the goal is explaining criteria and language that may be new to the reader so as to open your evidence up to new audiences.

Examples of Evaluative Criteria:

Music:

  • For example, in music commonly accepted criteria of superior music include: melody/harmony, melodic/harmonic structure, rhythm/intricacy, time duration/structure and timbre. The last is the lowest level that music would be judged on, though the best music would receive high scores on all criteria.
  • Music can also be judged using a Gestalt-like concept, though, with good music being greater than the sum of its scores on individual categories and with music of different scores still making unique contributions to the field in a way which complicate any simple ranking by scores.

Art:

  • Some authors have written about art in terms of the interaction between the viewer and the art or artist. Elements of this interaction have been used to form criteria.
  • Four responses identified by Csikszentmihalyi and Robinson (1990) include: a perceptual response (elements such as balance, form, and harmony); an emotional response (reactions to the emotional content of the work and personal associations); an intellectual response (theoretical and art historical questions); and a communicative response (desire to relate to the artist, or to his or her time or culture, through the mediation of the work of art).
  • Csikszentmihalyi’s (1990) work on flow experiences or autotelic activity (activity that is done for its own sake because experiencing the activity is the main goal) can also be used to judge what is good art, namely, understanding the things that make flow experiences possible and cause autotelic experience, creating a communication bridge between the artist and viewer.
  • Others values or criteria that can be used to evaluate art include: symmetry & fractal like qualities, gradual contours of patterns, many varieties of pattern, colour graduation, luminous, translucent and subtle colours., high detail/complexity, and '3D' scenario, so that there's a combination of big and 'small' objects.

Library Sciences:

  • The following criteria were developed by the American Library Association. Reference Collection Development and Evaluation Committee (1992) for the selection of non-internet reference resources: Authority of the source, accuracy of information, clarity of presentation, uniqueness within the total collection, recency or timeliness, favorable reviews, and community needs.

Further information:

Gary King, Robert O. Keohane, and Sidney Verba (1994). Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research. Princeton University Press.

  • A well written guide to writing about qualitative work. A collaboration of qualitative and quantitative researchers.

Multimedia Presentations

Mixed and multimedia technologies allow educators interested in SoTL to go beyond text-based presentation of new techniques or evidence of student learning.

Mixed medium formats may also be more appropriate for showcasing the learning and projects produced in classrooms that utilize different methods and technologies to enhance student learning.

  • Examples of these projects are given in Abrahamson and colleagues (2005) and include statistics projects with traditional media and computer simulation-based products and classes that allow multiple entry points into participation including robotics and documentaries.

A growing number of web-based outlets for the dissemination of these presentations exist. These are on-line journals or websites where these kinds of presentation can be disseminated.

  • One such example is similar to the storytelling websites above, though more elaborate in scope and presentation, on the topic of evolution: http://becominghuman.org/
 

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