ⓘ Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

ⓘ Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning is often defined as systematic inquiry into student learning which advances the practice of teaching in higher education by making inquiry findings public. Building on this definition, Peter Felten identified 5 principles for good practice in SOTL: inquiry focused on student learning, grounded in context, methodologically sound, conducted in partnership with students, appropriately public.

SOTL necessarily builds on many past traditions in higher education, including classroom and program assessment, action research, the reflective practice movement, peer review of teaching, traditional educational research, and faculty development efforts to enhance teaching and learning. As such, SOTL encompasses aspects of professional development or faculty development, such as how teachers can not only improve their expertise in their fields, but also develop their pedagogical expertise, i.e., how to better teach novice students in the field or enable their learning. It also encompasses the study and implementation of more modern teaching methods, such as active learning, cooperative learning, problem based learning, and others. SOTL scholars come from various backgrounds, such as those in educational psychology and other education related fields, as well as specialists in various disciplines who are interested in improving teaching and learning in their respective fields. Some scholars are educational researchers or consultants affiliated with teaching and learning centers at universities.

Inquiry methods in SOTL include reflection and analysis, interviews and focus groups, questionnaires and surveys, content analysis of text, secondary analysis of existing data, quasi-experiments comparison of two sections of the same course, observational research, and case studies, among others. As with all scholarly study, evidence depends not only upon the methods chosen but the relevant disciplinary standards. Dissemination for impact among scholarly teachers may be local within the academic department, college or university, or may be in published, peer-reviewed form. A few journals exclusively publish SOTL outputs, and numerous disciplinary publications disseminate such inquiry outputs, as well as a number of core SoTL journals and newsletters.


1. Signature pedagogies

Signature pedagogies are ways of learning in specific disciplines. Examples of signature pedagogies include medical residents making rounds in hospitals or pre-service teachers doing a classroom-based practicum as part of their teacher training. The notion of signature pedagogies has expanded in recent years, as scholars have examined their use in e-learning, for example. Some scholars contend that SoTL itself is a signature pedagogy of higher education.


2. Professional societies

The International Society for Exploring Teaching and Learning ISETL has as its purpose "to encourage the study of instruction and principles of learning in order to implement practical, effective methods of teaching and learning; promote the application, development, and evaluation of such methods; and foster the scholarship of teaching and learning among practicing post-secondary educators." They hold a yearly conference in varying locations. Their 50th annual conference is to be held in Charlotte, NC in 2019.

The International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning ISSOTL was founded in 2004 by a committee of 67 scholars from several countries and serves faculty members, staff, and students who care about teaching and learning as serious intellectual work. ISSOTL has held annual conferences since 2004, attended by scholars from about a dozen nations. The conferences sites include Bloomington, Indiana USA 2004; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 2005; Washington, DC, USA 2006; Sydney, Australia 2007; Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 2008; Bloomington, Indiana, USA 2009; Liverpool, UK 2010; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA 2011; Hamilton, Ontario, Canada 2012; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA 2013; Quebec City, Quebec, Canada 2014.

There are also stand-alone conferences that have a long-standing commitment to SOTL. The Lilly Conferences are a series of conferences that occur multiple times a year and provide "opportunities for the presentation of the scholarship of teaching and learning." Additionally, The SoTL Commons Conference is an international conference that has been held since 2007 at the Georgia Southern University Center for Teaching Excellence CTE.


3. List of journals focusing on SOTL topics

  • Journal on Excellence in College Teaching
  • College Teaching
  • International Journal for Academic Development
  • International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education IJTLHE
  • International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning IJ-SOTL
  • International Journal for Students as Partners IJSaP
  • Teaching & Learning Inquiry TLI
  • Journal of Effective Teaching in Higher Education Formerly Journal of Effective Teaching

4. Bibliography

  • Shulman, L.S. 1999. "Taking learning seriously" Change July/August 1999:11–17.
  • Kreber, C. 2002. "Teaching excellence, teaching expertise, and the scholarship of teaching" Innovative Higher Educ. 27:5–23.
  • Huber, M.T., and P. Hutchings. 2005. "Surveying the scholarship of teaching and learning", Chap. 1, The Advancement of Learning: Building the Teaching Commons, ISBN 0-7879-8115-X
  • Hutchings, P. 2000. "Approaching the scholarship of teaching and learning" Introduction to Opening Lines: Approaches to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning ; ISBN 0-931050-68-5 online
  • McKinney, K. 2004. "The scholarship of teaching and learning: Past lessons, current challenges, and future visions." To Improve the Academy 22:3–19.
  • Bass, R. 1999. "The scholarship of teaching: What is the problem?" Creative Thinking about Learning and Teaching 11. online – online
  • E.Boyer. 1990. "Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate". The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Online

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