SoTL Sprint

SoTL Sprint

SoTL Sprint - all you need is an idea


Design a Course-based Research Study 

Next Sprint: TBD


"This program will introduce you to SoTL by working through the process of developing a study. It's a great way to connect with folks around campus who are committed to teaching, and you'll leave with something tangible: an IRB protocol. It will energize you for the coming semester!" -- 2022 faculty participant

What is a sprint? 

A sprint is a focused, energizing, and results-oriented cycle of work occurring over a few days.  Rather than spend too much time considering, debating, or generating ideas, sprints encourage you to run with one idea and produce a product. It's a way to move from wandering in thoughts to action, to turn abstract thinking into something concrete. In this case, that concrete item is an IRB protocol for a SoTL research study!

For the January SoTL Sprint, “Design a Course-Based Research Study”, come with a research question that you want to investigate, and a course that you will be teaching in which to do the investigation. The 4-day Sprint week focuses on using the course materials that are, or can be, embedded in a course you will be teaching in the future, even as soon as that spring semester. At the end of the sprint, you will have a completed IRB protocol to submit to the Human Research Protection Office (HRPO) for approval and will have completed the university required CITI training for Human Subject Research. Bonus: if you've already completed the CITI training before the Sprint, you can complete the Sprint in just 3 days!

You will leave the SoTL Sprint with:  

  • A study designed and ready to implement 
  • A completed Institutional Review Board (IRB) protocol, including student consent form and required attachments, ready to submit for review  
  • A new accountability group of peers to help you continue the momentum of your SoTL project (including a Sprint Reunion in May!)

The January 2023 SoTL Sprint is facilitated by Colleen Kuusinen and Sara Cavallo of the CTL.

SoTL Sprint Schedule

What’s my commitment?

We have designed the Sprint so you can attend in-person and/or online flexibly over 3 or 4 days. The daily meeting schedule is 10am – 1pm to help you maintain your pace in designing your study; however, on some days there is built-in flexibility where you decide how to allocate your time and attention. The Sprint Schedule below details the activities scheduled for each day. Sprinters are expected to attend the whole group sessions (in gold) on the scheduled days. To build community and foster peer-peer connection, we request that you attend in-person on Tuesday and join us for a community lunch at UMass.

Though we have built in work time to the SoTL Sprint, to reach the finish line by Friday, you will likely have to schedule some additional time to work on your project. To keep your momentum, deliverables are due at 5pm the same day or 9am the next morning, depending on what meets your needs.

Please note, we have scheduled 4 days for the Sprint, but the 4th day is time for you to independently complete the university and federally required CITI Human Subjects Research (Group 2) training.  This training must be complete before an IRB protocol can be submitted.  This training is available to all UMass faculty at any time, so you may take the training at any time prior to the Sprint if that better suits your schedule. For those that opt to take the training before the January sprint, they will complete the sprint in just 3 days: January 17-19th (with an optional celebration huddle on the 20th)!

How do I know if I’m ready for a SoTL Sprint? 

All you need is an idea. Ideas typically come from some problem that you have seen in your classroom. Following Randy Bass, we consider problems as rich sites of inquiry, not necessarily things that need fixing. Learn more about SoTL and how it can enrich your professional life. Take a look at six sample SoTL studies written as excerpts from an IRB application and a list of published SoTL studies that we like (and why).

Once you can articulate your problem, use this brainstorming worksheet, Developing a Strong SoTL Research Question [Google Document], to help you craft your idea into a research question. This brainstorm, while not required, will be useful to complete before the Sprint. This video recording of a SoTL RQ workshop will walk you through the process of developing a SoTL RQ. Or email Colleen Kuusinen to request a consultation to talk through your ideas!

Past Sprint Participants

Zoom screen shot of the SoTL Sprint Team

January 2022:

  • Nick Tooker, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Colleen Kuusinen, CTL (facilitator)
  • Julia Ronconi, Nursing
  • Laura Danai, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Krzysztof Rowinski, Comparative Literature
  • Anne Bello, Writing Program
  • Meghan Armstrong-Abrami, Spanish & Portuguese
  • Kelsey Whipple (and Matilda!), Journalism

"You research really cool things, and you teach really cool things. Your students deserve that first-hand knowledge, and your peers in education deserve to learn from these cool approaches you're developing. Why don't you consider combining your efforts through the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning? Colleen at CTL runs this incredible program that helps guide you through the process of getting started while grounding you in why this vein of research is so important." -- 2022 faculty participant


Space is limited to 8 faculty to ensure team cohesion and individualized attention. Sign up today!