Institute for the Study of Teaching and Learning in the Disciplines

Cheryl Amundsen


The primary purpose of the Institute for the Study of Teaching and Learning in the Disciplines, is to inspire, support, and enhance faculty-led inquiry into all aspects of teaching and learning at SFU. By "faculty-led inquiry" we mean that which is discipline-focused, initiated by faculty and related to questions about teaching and learning in a specific course, more than one course or at the program level. This is accomplished through the support of Teaching and Learning Development Grants (in partnership with the Teaching and Learning Centre) and through the work of faculty members affiliated with the Institute. The Institute for the Study of Teaching and Learning in the Disciplines (ISTLD) is first and foremost about data driven (evidence-based) teaching and learning. Specifically, the ISTLD supports the systematic collection and analysis of data about teaching at the course, program and curriculum levels to support instructional decision making and curriculum planning. To date, over 160 grant projects have been funded. The model employed to accomplish this work is based on research and teaching faculty, students and staff working together to both facilitate the grants program and also to carry out individual grant projects. The ISTLD is amassing a large database that contains details of all grant projects across the university as well as data accumulated through the ongoing evaluation of our work (surveys, interviews, documents). The evaluation framework documents impact at the individual, departmental and institutional level. An innovative networking approach is being piloted to make sense of very unstructured data that can be used to show impact beyond individual projects. To date three papers have been published based on this data and other universities have shown keen interest in what is being done at SFU. A goal is to produce data collection instruments and data analysis procedures that can be employed across universities in an effort to support data driven teaching and learning in Canada. The ISTLD supports faculty members in working with and learning from data about teaching and learning. But the “Big Data” movement also demands that we educate students about how to work with large, often unstructured databases that originate from multiple contexts, an area currently referred to as “data analytics”. The ISTLD is currently working with a professor in the Beedie School of Business who is developing and evaluating an innovative teaching approach specifically for this purpose. The end goal is to provide guidelines for other faculty regarding course designs that incorporate "big data" that can be evaluated in various disciplines. For more information, please go to: