At the heart of the centre’s work is the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning – commonly referred to as SoTL — which focuses on the systematic study of teaching practices in higher education with the goal of improving student learning.
Donors Jane and Ron Graham gathered on April 20 with representatives from USask to officially open the newly renovated space, located on the main floor of the Education Building. The donation is part of the newly-launched Be What the World Needs Campaign which aims to raise $500 million to support key priorities at the university.
“I want to thank the Grahams on behalf of all of us for giving USask the opportunity to be at the forefront nationally of improving the student learning experience in higher education,” said President Peter Stoicheff (PhD) at the grand opening.
In 2022, the centre launched the first master’s and post-graduate certificate credentials in SoTL in North America, with the first students beginning their program this past September.
Marie Rogel, a graduate student studying in the School of Environment and Sustainability (SENS) at USask, is pursuing the graduate certificate program offered by the centre. She is part of the Transdisciplinary Education Collaboration for Transformations in Sustainability (TRANSECTS) in SENS and will apply a SoTL lens in her doctoral research to explore the mentorship and learning of emerging transdisciplinary sustainability scholars and practitioners.
“One of the questions I often get asked now is ‘How did you get involved in SoTL?’” said Rogel. “I hope more students know more about SoTL, because it is truly life changing.”
Rogel shared that the centre gives students in higher education the opportunity to experience how SoTL can enrich their lives, as learners and future teachers, trainers and mentors. She emphasized how the centre provides a place for those from different academic disciplines to interact, collaborate and improve their teaching and learning practices.
“Now with the Jane and Ron Graham Centre for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, we have a space to call our own — our own community of practice — where we can come together to ask questions, seek help and support, and collectively find solutions,” said Rogel.
“SoTL has helped me reflect on my learning experiences in previous courses and programs and how I can improve my learning strategies,” continued Rogel. “It has also made me think about my past teaching approaches and how I can improve as I move forward in my career as a researcher and an educator. The centre has a tremendous impact on me, and I hope to pay it forward.”
Education alumna Jane Graham started her career as a physical education teacher in Moose Jaw before leaving the classroom to raise her family and help build Graham Construction. She continued to dedicate her life to education, actively working with the school board and on committees. For her, the centre fulfills a crucial need in helping prepare students by improving how they learn the skills that will serve them throughout their careers, something she found lacking in her own university experience.
“SoTL is around the world, it’s a wonderful concept. I’m so glad that it’s here. [Director Melanie Hamilton] and [coordinator] Alison Kraft are doing such great work. And to hear from the students has been inspiring. I’m so happy to hear what Marie had to share with us,” said Jane Graham. “I welcome you all, I thank you all and I’m looking forward to the magic that is going to continue at this centre.”