A Lethbridge College researcher and educational development specialist has been appointed to two prestigious positions. Melanie Hamilton’s appointments are related to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), which is research focused on student learning.
Hamilton will become the chair of SoTL Canada on June 10, which also gives her a seat on the Board of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE). In addition, the board of the International Society of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) unanimously selected Hamilton for a one-year appointment as VP Canada.
“I am honored and privileged to be a part of two amazing SoTL organizations,” says Hamilton. “The SoTL community advocates for research dedicated to understanding how teaching maximizes learning. SoTL is a unique body of research that encourages collaboration across all disciplines and encourages researchers to share their findings with the higher education community from the local to the global contexts.”
Hamilton will serve a two-year term as chair of SoTL Canada, with an option for two more. She previously served three years as vice-chair. While her move to become SoTL Canada chair was a planned progression from her time as vice-chair, her appointment to ISSOTL was a surprise. While it is typically an elected position, the person who won the election to become VP Canada resigned before taking office, so Hamilton was selected as the replacement. After one year, the position will be open for election again.
“Anyone who has been lucky enough to work with Mel in any capacity will know how passionate she is about SoTL,” says Jaclyn Doherty, Dean of the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Innovation. “She is a natural leader and valuable team member, which makes this appointment so fitting. We at Lethbridge College have certainly benefitted from her immense dedication and commitment to sharing knowledge and building communities of practice around effective teaching practices. I am excited to see where she will take us on the road ahead.”
Hamilton says her work nationally and internationally reflects Lethbridge College’s growing reputation for SoTL research. The college is unique in its support for SoTL, providing opportunities for both faculty and non-teaching staff to conduct such research and apply for Scholarly Teaching and Research (STAR) grants. Those grants will be in their fourth year in 2020-21.
“Lethbridge College is well positioned and respected on the international stage because of the institutional work we have done,” says Hamilton. “Kudos to the Lethbridge College community and leadership for that support. I am really excited and looking forward to seeing where SoTL can go in the next five years.”
Hamilton has presented Lethbridge College’s approach to SoTL research at two ISSOTL conferences, in the U.S. and in Norway, and other institutions often reach out to her to learn more about the college’s approach to growing this type of scholarship. In her time on the national board, Hamilton has established seven regional groups across Canada to help build a collaborative community of people interested in SoTL.
The pandemic has forced a rethinking of education, Hamilton says, creating a host of new avenues for research on teaching and learning.
“Now we have had a chance to shift and to look at things differently and quickly,” says Hamilton. “I see more opportunities for collaboration for Lethbridge College building from this.”
In addition to supporting Lethbridge College researchers with their SoTL projects, Hamilton is also a researcher, whose work has included academic integrity and engaging mid-career faculty.