Building the Science of Learning community
Centralized in the Office of the Provost, SOLER is uniquely positioned to foster interdisciplinary collaborations, advocate for and boost the visibility of our affiliates, promote literacy by hosting journal clubs and guest speakers, train the next generation of scholars by recruiting graduate student assistants to support projects of all kinds, and connect our work to the broader academic world.
Click here to register for SOLER’s mailing list and receive invitations to upcoming events.
Featured Media: Podcast
Adam Brown (SOLER Program Director) and Samantha Garbers (SOLER committee member, PSSG awardee, and Associate Professor of Population & Family Health) were featured on an April 2023 episode of Columbia CTL's Dead Ideas in Teaching and Learning podcast entitled "The Science of Learning in Action".
Launched in 2022, the SOLER journal club series provides a forum for discussion of empirical SoTL Research papers and related commentary articles. Some sessions feature guest speakers. The series was upgraded to a monthly event starting in February 2023; information about the date and time of the next session (September 2023) will be available soon.
Launched in 2022, the SOLER journal club series provides a forum for discussion of empirical SoTL Research papers and related commentary articles. See below for descriptions of past sessions:
- In August 2023, the group discussed a cutting-edge research article at the intersection of neuroscience and education published in Psychological Science: "The Temporal Dynamics of Brain-to-Brain Synchrony Between Students and Teachers Predict Learning Outcomes" (Davidesco et al., 2023). SOLER Graduate Student Assistant Josh Friedman (Teachers College) led the session.
- In July 2023, a special journal club session took place during the second annual SOLER Summer Institute. Guest speaker Regan Gurung of Oregon State University led the discussion of his recent article entitled "The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Scaling New Heights, but It May Not Mean What You Think It Means", which was published in a collection of essays edited by the American Psychological Association.
- In June 2023, the group discussed a raison d'etre-defining commentary article by the editors-in-chief of The Journal of Learning Analytics, one of the premier outlets for scholarly work in that area (Wise et al., 2021). SOLER Graduate Student Assistant Sanjana Rosario (Marketing) led the session.
- In May 2023, the group discussed an intriguing psychological research article entitled "Negative Evaluations of Rote Teachers" (Bass et al., 2022). SOLER Graduate Student Assistant John Thorp (Psychology) led the session.
- In April 2023, the group discussed a timely commentary article from The Chronicle of Higher Education entitled "ChatGPT is already upending campus practices. Colleges are rushing to respond." (McMurtrie, 2023)
- SOLER upgraded its journal club series to a monthly event beginning in March 2023. That month, the group convened to discuss a pandemic-era retrospective entitled "Academia's responses to crisis: A bibliometric analysis of literature on online learning in higher education during COVID‐19" (Zhang et al., 2022)
- SOLER convened its second journal club session in September 2022, this time hosting two authors of a highly relevant paper entitled "Scholarly Teaching for All, Research for Some: On the Roles of Research and Scholarship of Education in the Disciplines" (Molinaro et al., 2020). The guest speakers, Viji Sathy (Associate Dean of Evaluation and Assessment in the Office of Undergraduate Education and a Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at UNC Chapel Hill) and Kelly Hogan (Director of Instructional Innovation for the UNC Chapel Hill’s College of Arts and Sciences and a professor and Senior STEM Lecturer in the College’s Biology Department) are also the authors of a new book, Inclusive Teaching: Strategies for Promoting Equity in the College Classroom, published in August 2022 by West Virginia Press.
- In February 2022, SOLER hosted its inaugural journal club session. An assortment of faculty, graduate students, and OTLI staff convened to discuss Beth McMurtrie's recent essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education entitled "Why the Science of Teaching Is Often Ignored".
In 2023, SOLER made its second appearance at the CTL's annual Celebration of Teaching and Learning Symposium. Program Director Adam Brown hosted a virtual panel featuring two teams of 2022 PSSG awardees: Samantha Garbers (SOLER faculty committee member and Associate Professor of Population & Family Health) and her Mailman School of Public Health colleague Roxanne Russell (Assistant Dean of Digital Learning) as well as Tugce Bilgin (Lecturer in E3B and Frontiers of Science Fellow) and Joshua Friedman (PhD Candidate in Cognitive Science in Education, Teachers College). Watch the virtual panel here.
In 2022, SOLER's made its first appearance at the event. Program Director Adam Brown hosted a virtual panel featuring Janet Metcalfe (SOLER faculty committee co-chair and Professor of Psychology), Beth Barron (2021 PSSG awardee and Associate Professor of Medicine), and Arya Rao (CC '22 and TA for Brent Stockwell's VR biochemistry course). Additionally, members of the Stockwell and Spagna SOLER project research teams led interactive demos of their VR and EEG technologies, respectively, at the live poster session. Watch the virtual panel here.
In 2020, SOLER launched the Provost’s SOLER Seed Grants (PSSG) program in order to support faculty-led efforts to address Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) questions through formal research processes. At the PSSG information session each spring, two faculty awardees from the previous year serve a panelists, sharing their insights and presenting their SOLER-supported projects.
- 2023 panelists: Amy Werman (Social Work) and Vincent FitzPatrick (Biological Sciences)
- 2022 panelists: Wing Fu (Physical Therapy) and Vanessa Guida Mesina (Undergraduate Writing Program)
- 2021 panelists: Brent Stockwell (Biological Sciences) and Alfredo Spagna (Psychology)
Led by Professor Brent Stockwell and graduate student teaching assistant Taruna Neelakantan on August 4th, 2022, this interactive session gave Columbia CTL staff the opportunity to experience first hand the excitement of learning biochemistry in VR. The participants got comfortable with the headsets and then joined the virtual classroom to engage with a hands-on biochemistry lesson. Special thanks to the CTL's John Foo for originating the idea and planning the event and to Jason Guzman for documenting it with this video.
The Center for Teaching and Learning and SOLER jointly held the inaugural Science of Learning Symposium on Thursday, October 11, 2018. The Symposium brought together Columbia faculty, staff, graduate students, and experts in the science of learning to share the research on metacognition in learning, and to translate it into strategies that maximize student learning.
The day’s agenda kicked off in the Low Library Rotunda at 9:30 AM with presentations by leading researchers and experts in the fields of cognitive psychology and metacognition.
- “Metacognition and Curiosity” by Janet Metcalfe (Columbia University)
- “Why Don’t the Trials and Errors of Everyday Living and Learning Teach Us How to Learn?” by Robert A. Bjork (University of California, Los Angeles)
- “Academic Performance under Stress” by Sian Beilock (Barnard College)
Discussion followed, led by Elizabeth Bjork, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles and Dylan Wiliam, Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment at University College London.
Later in the day, the CTL hosted two workshops in Butler Library for faculty, staff, and graduate students to explore evidence-based metacognitive strategies that can be implemented in the classroom.
Workshop 1 | Turning Tests into Desirable Difficulties: How to Assess Learning in Ways that Enhance Learning
From 1:00 PM – 2:45 PM, Professor Elizabeth Ligon Bjork (University of California, Los Angeles) led a workshop on turning tests into Desirable Difficulties that enhance learning, with commentary by Professor Metcalfe and participation from faculty, staff, and students.
Workshop 2 | Activating students as owners of their own learning: Metacognition in the classroom
From 3:00 PM – 4:45 PM, Professor Dylan Wiliam led a workshop on how to make students become more active in their own learning, with commentary and participation by interested faculty, staff, and students as well as by Professor Robert A. Bjork.
This 2018 speakers were Janet Metcalfe, Professor of Psychology at Columbia University; Robert A. Bjork, Distinguished Research Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles; and Sian Beilock, President of Barnard College.
Janet Metcalfe is Professor of Psychology and of Neurobiology and Behavior at Columbia University. Her current research focuses on understanding the consequences of metacognition for attention, memory, learning, and neural processing.
Robert A. Bjork is Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research focuses on human learning and memory and on the implications of the science of learning for instruction and training.
Sian Beilock is the 8th President of Barnard College. Her work as a cognitive scientist has revolved around performance anxiety, with a focus on success in math and science for women and girls.
Their talks were commented by Elizabeth Ligon Bjork, Professor of Psychology at University of California, Los Angeles; and Dylan Wiliam, Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment at University College London.
Elizabeth Ligon Bjork is Professor of Psychology and Past Senior Vice Chair in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Main themes of her research have been the role of inhibitory processes in creating an adaptive memory system and how principles of learning discovered in the laboratory can be applied to enhance instructional practices and self-directed learning.
Dylan Wiliam is Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment at University College London. His academic work has focused on the use of assessment to support learning (sometimes called formative assessment).