Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

What is the scholarship of teaching and learning?

The scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) is the study of effective teaching and learning through research and reflection as well as disseminating findings through publications, presentations, and conferences. Others definitions of SoTL include:

  • “problem posing about an issue of teaching or learning, study of the problem through methods appropriate to the disciplinary epistemologies, applications of results to practice, communication of results, self-reflection, and peer review” (Cambridge, 2001)
  • “ongoing learning about teaching and the demonstration of such knowledge” (Kreber & Cranton, 2000)

An important goal of SoTL is to improve learning among and between individual learners by conducting investigations into the different areas of discipline-specific expertise and best practices (McKinney, 2007). Sievers (2015) stated, “basing our teaching practices on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) enables us to move beyond trial-and-error approaches in our a more fundamental level, it also enables academics to take seriously—according to the values of the academy itself—the work of teaching.”

What are key SoTL components?

Martin, Benjamin, Prosser, and Trigwell (1999) contend that the scholarship of teaching must include:

  • Engagement with existing knowledge on teaching and learning
  • Self-reflection on teaching and learning in one's discipline
  • Dissemination of ideas about teaching and learning within the discipline

What are the steps in the SoTL process?

  • Identity the research question
  • Design the study
  • Collect the data
  • Analyze the data and draw conclusions
  • Present and publish findings (Bishop-Clark & Dietz-Uhler, 2012)

What are SoTL areas of focus?

Boyer (1990) believed the work of the professoriate might be thought of as having four separate, yet overlapping, functions:

  • Scholarship of discovery
  • Scholarship of integration
  • Scholarship of application
  • Scholarship of teaching

What are some benefits of SoTL?

  • Helps with program assessment, program review, and accreditation
  • Stimulates senior faculty members as well as junior faculty members
  • Creates new networks and partnerships among faculty, staff, and students
  • Provides research opportunities for faculty and students
  • Helps faculty reflect and improve their teaching practices
  • Strengthens budget requests for additional operational/personnel funds
  • Adds publications and presentations to faculty accomplishments
  • Helps train graduate students and prepare future faculty
  • Makes faculty stronger candidates for major internal and external teaching awards
  • Shows potential candidates that department, school, and university values teaching
  • Enhances teaching and student learning

What are implications/outcomes of SoTL?

  • Results of research is applied to the practice of teaching
  • Applicability and utility of research extend beyond the original site of research
  • Results of research improve the quality of teaching and learning
  • Development of new or revised theoretical understanding or applied knowledge
  • Highlights how traditional course issues/materials can be addressed in new ways
  • Helps faculty reflect and improve teaching practices

What are some SoTL activities you can participate in?

  • Teaching circles
  • Book groups
  • Study groups
  • Faculty learning communities

References and other sources

Bass, R. (1999) The scholarship of teaching: What's the problem? Invention: Creative Thinking About Learning and Teaching. 1(1).

Boyer, Ernest L. (1990) Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate. Princeton: NJ: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Boyer, E. L., Moser, D., Ream, T. C., Braxton, J. M., & ebrary, I. E. (2016). Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate (Expand ed.). San Francisco, CA: Published by Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Brand.

Bishop-Clark, C., & Dietz-Uhler, B. (2012). Engaging in the scholarship of teaching and learning: A guide to the process, and how to develop a project from start to finish. Stylus: Sterling, VA.

Cambridge, B. (2001). Fostering the scholarship of teaching and learning: Communities of practice. pps. 3-16 in To improve the academy. D. Lieberman and C. Wehlburg, Eds. Bolton, MA: Anker.

Hutchings, P. (2000) Approaching the scholarship of teaching and learning. In: Opening Lines: Approaches to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Menlo Park, CA., The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, pp. 1–10.

Hutchings, P. (2002). Informal handout and remarks at the SoTL Community of Practice. Annual meetings of the American Association for Higher Education, Chicago, March.

Hutchings, P., Huber, M. T., & Ciccone, A. (2011). The scholarship of teaching and learning reconsidered: Institutional integration and impact. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Kreber, C., & Cranton, P. A. (2000). Exploring the scholarship of teaching. The Journal of Higher Education, 71(4), 476-495.

Martin, E., Benjamin, J., Prosser, M., and Trigwell, K. (1999). Scholarship of teaching: A study of the approaches of academic staff. Improving student learning: Improving student learning outcomes. PPS. 326-331. C. Rust (ed.). Oxford: Oxford Centre for Staff Learning and Development, Oxford Brookes University.

McKinney, K. (2007). Enhancing learning through the scholarship of teaching and learning: The challenges and joys of juggling. Bolton, Mass: Anker Pub. Co.

McKinney, K. (in review). The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Past Lessons, Current Challenges, and Future Visions. To Improve the Academy.

Rowland, S. L., & Myatt, P. M. (2014). Getting started in the scholarship of teaching and learning: A “how to” guide for science academics: Getting started in the scholarship of teaching and learning. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 42(1), 6-14. doi:10.1002/bmb.20748


History of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Examples of SoTL Projects