Self-Study Scholars’ Collaborative

This learning community, called the Self-Study Scholars’ Collaborative (S3C) on the Visually Rich Digital Learning Environment, responds directly to the commitment to innovative learning that is a cornerstone of Mason’s Strategic Plan. It is designed to support faculty who want to teach in or build curricula for visually rich, advanced digital learning environments that promote visual thinking and active learning. Participants in the S3C learning community will become familiar with a wide variety of visually oriented digital tools, as a way to explore what is possible in visually rich advanced learning environments. They will also learn and use a structured methodology for self-study research on professional practice—a powerful tool for exploring novel approaches to teaching and scholarship. This methodology has been shared and adopted with great success in two prior Stearns Center-sponsored learning communities, resulting in curricular innovations, peer-reviewed research publications and presentations, and a network of scholars and critical friends trained in this method from a range of Colleges and programs across Mason.

Participant Commitment:
Participation in this event is limited to 15, including the three co-facilitators. Selection will be based on creating a diverse group of faculty from various colleges and disciplines. We favor applicants whose applications demonstrate a disposition of a beginner’s mind:

  • Willing to explore their pedagogies and curricula in “studios” of collaborative inquiry and exchange
  • Embrace mistakes as part of the process of growth
  • Cultivate openness to continuous learning and divergent thinking
  • Experiment courageously
  • Learn from others outside their discipline and instructional units
  • Able to be vulnerable within the learning community
  • Share knowledge generated by the study through presentation and publication, both individual and collaborative

Application Process:
To apply, please submit a brief application that includes the following information:

  1. Why you are interested in participating in S3C
  2. What you might be interested in studying (that topic may change)
  3. Your fall and spring teaching schedules and any standing meetings
  4. Your available time period for a project launch

Frequently Asked Questions:
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What's in it for me?

You will have the opportunity to connect with and work with faculty across programs in a project that matters to you. Our work will involve each of us in an individual project supported by our scholarly learning community. We are committed to present our work collectively at the annual Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning conference and you will be encouraged to present and publish your research either individually and/or collaboratively. Faculty committed to participate in the project will receive financial support up to $1,500 for professional travel to a peer-reviewed conference to present the work produced in this project. This research further positions you to be at the forefront in studying your professional practice, with extended future possibilities for collaboration. Self-study research offers you an opportunity to author a personal and situated inquiry about an issue related to your professional practice and wish to explore with colleagues.

What does self-study research look like?

Your project can be focused on any topic that matters to your professional practice. It is not limited only to your teaching and may include other practitioner-based research questions. Self-study research allows educators to uncover a tacit understanding of the intersections of their personal histories of learning, their cultures, and their professional practices, and to develop a self-understanding personally and professionally.The co-facilitators will support your efforts to pose a meaningful question and to enact a successful project. Here are just a few examples of faculty self-study projects:

  • Does my involvement in an electronic forum influence class community building?
  • How do I balance my multiple roles as professor and department chair or administrator?
  • How do I continue to develop my teaching while also attending to my scholarship?
  • How does my collaboration with colleagues outside my university support my professional development and my scholarship?
  • What is the effect of my Asian American culture on my teaching of multicultural issues?
  • How can I practice shared leadership in an emerging professional community?
  • Does my teaching philosophy align with my teaching? How do I live my values more fully in my teaching; for example, what is my philosophy and role in teaching about “truth” in history?
  • In what way does my work with performing artists influence my teaching of the arts?
  • What is my interpretation of social justice and how does that influence my teaching and integration of that topic in the courses I teach?

As facilitators with extensive expertise in the self-study methodology, we will offer a well-planned and thoughtfully crafted set of scholarly activities designed to add to your professional development and scholarship. More specifically, we have planned a series of manageable and user-friendly workshops once a month in which you will receive guidance in applying the self-study research model along with support from our community. A unique feature of self-study research is that scholars engaged in the process support each other’s efforts as “critical friends,” i.e., as engaged listeners and readers who are fully committed to each other’s success. We respect your time as a faculty member, and so a great deal of your participation will be completed online with your “critical friend”(s) from our cohort. If you are unfamiliar with using online collaboration platforms via Blackboard, Google Docs or other services, we will assist you with resources to learn these tools. In the learning community, you will have an opportunity to:

  • Propose a facet of your teaching and/or professional practice that you want to explore, and embed that personal inquiry within the context of a specific course(s) or program.
  • Enact an inquiry using the Five Foci as guidelines of the self-study methodology in a case study approach to study the impact of your practice on others.
  • Collaboratively assess your project in an intellectually safe and supportive community by making it explicit to yourself and validated through critical collaborative inquiries.
  • Disseminate your project through a national presentation(s) and publication (s). Conference proposal and journal writing will be a component of our group’s work with the goal of submitting conference proposals.

What is our learning community’s timeline?

Our kick-off meeting will be a working lunch meeting at Southside Dining Hall. This orientation meeting will introduce you to the self-study methodology and to other cohort members, and will assist you in clarifying your project inquiries. Implementation and assessment of your project will unfold over the course of the academic year. After our first gathering, a series of three working lunches will be held in both the fall and spring semesters, augmenting and enriching the group’s work and communication online.

If you have any further questions, please contact us at