Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

SoTL Scholar Spotlight: Emily Wettstein

By Kristin Sloane

Monday, October 31, 2022

Emily Wettstein is an Assistant Professor in the Landscape Architecture department. Since joining the UVA faculty in Spring 2022, she's been actively engaged with the CTE; she participated in our Course Design Institute (CDI) this past summer and is in our 2022-2023 SoTL Scholars cohort. Read more about Emily's SoTL project and experience in the program so far.

Q: Why did you want to join the SoTL Scholars program?

A. As a new tenure-track faculty member at the School of Architecture, I was looking for a way to advance my research agenda, which is focused on designing alternative pedagogical models for design education aimed at increasing equity and inclusion. I was very excited to discover that the SoTL Scholars program could help me more rigorously test the approaches that I was beginning to design and share the findings with a broader audience in both design and in education.

Q: For your SoTL research study, what did you want to learn about your teaching and/or students' learning? What are your research questions?

A: In what ways, if at all, do a series of self-reflective visualization exercises, performed in parallel to design studio site analysis exercises, impact landscape architecture students' metacognition and sense of learning agency? [And] in what ways, if at all, do these exercises inform the instructors' teaching approaches and strategies?

Q: Can you tell us more about your SoTL project?

A: The SoTL project seeks to apply the spatial design fields’ own concepts and methods to the construction of its pedagogies, connecting what we teach to how we teach. In particular, a “Student as Site” pedagogy looks to landscape architecture’s deep engagement with site and sitedness as a working model for design education, approaching students with the same nuance and care with which landscape architecture approaches sites, with close attention to situation, position, and identity, and as generative of their own specific potentialities.

I am utilizing the SoTL Scholars project to advance this agenda, ground it within contemporary educational theory, and evaluate its application in the design studio and classroom. Using the graduate level second semester foundation studio, “Landscape Entanglements,” of approximately 25 students, I will develop a series of student-centered reflective exercises that will be performed in parallel with various site mapping exercises, to reveal existing skills and conditions to be expanded upon throughout the semester.

Q: What data will you be collecting and how?

The project will analyze various student artifacts and audio-recorded reflection exercises. In parallel to these student exercises, the two instructors, including myself, will engage in regular audio-recorded reflections that document the impacts of the exercises on the teaching approaches and strategies they have taken for each student. 

Q: What has been your experience in the program so far? How has the process been of developing your project and preparing for data collection?

A: The program has been incredible—in not just educating us on the process of developing a SoTL project, but in working creatively with each of us to design our study, modeling inclusive and active teaching and learning throughout the entire process. I am continually surprised and impressed by the level of engagement and support we are receiving, from working with us through the Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval process to actually collecting our data! It has truly felt like a collaborative creative process.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add or any advice you have for instructors interested in the program?

A: Be open to the process and how your project might change in working through the ideas with others. And be the student that you wish you had in your class—it can be so much fun to fully embrace being a learner with your peers.

For questions about the SoTL Scholars program, email For questions about the SoTL Scholar Spotlight series or if you're a SoTL Scholar alumni who would like to be featured, email Kristin Sloane at

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