Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)
The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is the systematic study of teaching and learning to improve student learning and optimize educational experiences in post-secondary environments.
SoTL helps professors, instructors and librarians expand their research programs and contribute to their publication record, while simultaneously helping them to facilitate learning in the classroom. SoTL fosters interdisciplinary collaborations and knowledge sharing.
SoTL support at the University of Manitoba
At The Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, we offer workshops, research consultations, opportunities for dissemination, and support with funding applications to help you do SoTL work.
SoTL work at UM
What is SoTL?
In basic terms, SoTL can be thought of as researching one’s own teaching.
Engaging in SoTL is a curiosity-driven activity that involves reflection, discovery, and the gathering of evidence to answer one’s own questions about teaching and learning within an academic context. Unlike educational research in the traditional sense (and as a discipline), SoTL is action- and practice-oriented research that often incorporates reflection, with the goal being to understand what contributes to (or hinders) effective teaching and learning and how best to apply such knowledge into one’s own practice and context.
The concept of SoTL also goes beyond scholarly teaching, whereby one applies evidence-based methods to teaching, and aims to add to the evidence-base on teaching and learning approaches and methodologies in a context-specific manner. Thus, SoTL can be considered a unique merging/sits at the intersection of scholarly teaching and traditional education research. Similar to other forms of scholarship, findings from SoTL activities are peer-reviewed and disseminated to the public to foster scholarly teaching and promote best-practice and evidence-based approaches to learning.
The concept of SoTL gained popularity with the seminal work of Ernest L. Boyer (Boyer, 1990), who more formerly conceptualized the scholarship of teaching (now commonly referred to as SoTL) in higher education:
We believe the time has come to move beyond the tired old “teaching versus research” debate and give the familiar and honorable term “scholarship” a broader, more capacious meaning, one that brings legitimacy to the full scope of academic work. Surely, scholarship means engaging in original research. But the work of the scholar also means stepping back from one’s investigation, looking for connections, building bridges between theory and practice, and communicating one’s knowledge effectively to students. Specifically, we conclude that the work of the professoriate might be thought of as having four separate, yet overlapping, functions. These are: the scholarship of discovery; the scholarship of integration; the scholarship of application; and the scholarship of teaching. (p. 16)
Guides and resources
1. Fundamentals of SoTL
The following list of resources describes the fundamental elements of SoTL, including the challenges and rewards of engaging in SoTL, and SoTLs impact on teaching and learning. They provide a great starting place for SoTL researchers.
Chick, N. (2019). SoTL The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. A Guide from the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning. Calgary: Taylor Institute.
Geertsema, J. (2016). Academic development, SoTL and educational research. International Journal for Academic Development, 21(2), 122-134. https://doi.org/10.1080/1360144X.2016.1175144
Hutchings, P., Huber, M., & Ciccone, A. (2011). The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Reconsidered. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.*
Hutchings, P., & Shulman, L. S. (1999). The scholarship of teaching: New elaborations, new developments. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 31(5), 10-15. https://doi.org/10.1080/00091389909604218 *
McKinney, K. (2006). Attitudinal and structural factors contributing to challenges in the work of the scholarship of teaching and learning. New directions for institutional research, 129, 37-50. https://doi.org/10.1002/ir.170 *
Poole, G., & Simmons, N. (2013). The contributions of the scholarship of teaching and learning to quality enhancement in Canada. Enhancing quality in higher education: International perspectives, 118-128.
Trigwell, K., Martin, E., Benjamin, J., & Prosser, M. (2000). Scholarship of teaching: A model. Higher Education Research & Development, 19(2), 155-168. https://doi.org/10.1080/072943600445628 *
* Considered seminal works in SoTL
Mathany, C., Clow, K. M., & Aspenlieder, E. D. (2017). Exploring the role of the scholarship of teaching and learning in the context of the professional identities of faculty, graduate students, and staff in higher education. The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 8(3). https://doi.org/10.5206/cjsotl-rcacea.2017.3.10
2. SoTL guides
The following list of resources will help guide you through the process of planning and executing a SoTL research project. The SoTL annotated literature database is also a great resource to explore for research ideas and when beginning a literature search.
Chick, N. (2019). SoTL The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. A Guide from the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning. Calgary: Taylor Institute.
Laverty, C. (2016). Educational Research: A Practical Guide. Kingston: Queen’s University.
SoTL annotated literature database. https://sotlannotations.com/
Kirschner, F., Wijsman, L., Meijerman, I. (2021). Utrecht Roadmap for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. https://www.uu.nl/sites/default/files/Utrecht%20Roadmap%20for%20SoTL_EN_2021-03.pdf
3. Ethics and SoTL
SoTL research poses some unique ethical considerations. The following resources offer information and guidance on research ethics policy and strategies researchers might use to address the unique ethical considerations of SoTL research.
Fedoruk, L. (2017). Ethics in the scholarship of teaching and learning: Key principles and strategies for ethical practice. Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning Guide Series. Calgary, AB: Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning at the University of Calgary.
MacLean, M., & Poole, G. (2010). An Introduction to Ethical Considerations for Novices to Research in Teaching and Learning in Canada. Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 1(2), 7. https://doi.org/10.5206/cjsotl-rcacea.2010.2.7
Healey, R.L., Bass, T., Caulfield, J., Hoffman, A. McGinn, M.K., Miller-Young, J., and Haigh, M. (2013) Being Ethically Minded: Practicing the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in an Ethical Manner. Teaching and Learning Inquiry 1(2), pp. 23-33. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/teachlearninqu.1.issue-2
Page, S.A., Nyeboer, J. (2017). Improving the process of research ethics review. Research Integrity and Peer Review, 2 (14). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41073-017-0038-7
Pecorino, P. and Kincaid, S. (2008). Research and Experimentation in Teaching Effectiveness: The Ethical Review Process and the IRB. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 2(1). https://doi.org/10.20429/ijsotl.2008.020122
Schnurr, M. A., & Taylor, A. (2019). Bridging the Gap between the Research Ethics Board and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.5206/cjsotl-rcacea.2019.1.8003s
Stockley, D., & Balkwill, L.-L. (2013). Raising Awareness of Research Ethics in SoTL: The Role of Educational Developers. The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 4(1). https://doi.org/10.5206/cjsotl-rcacea.2013.1.7
Tomkowiak, J. M., & Gunderson, A. J. (2004). To IRB or not to IRB?. Academic medicine : Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 79(7), 628–632. https://doi.org/10.1097/00001888-200407000-00004
Wuetherick, B. Yu, S., and Greer, J. (2016). Exploring the SoTL Landscape at the University of Saskatchewan. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 146, 63-70. https://doi.org/10.1002/tl.20188
4. SoTL methods and research design
In this section, you will find resources providing guidance on SoTL study design and methods. The resources cover quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research design and analyses, as well as data collection and survey development.
Morden, N., & Summers, M. (2020, January 14). Planning a SoTL lesson study: Step 2 - data collection and analysis. Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning. https://taylorinstitute.ucalgary.ca/resources/planning-sotl-lesson-study-step-2
Miller-Young, J., & Yeo, M. (2015). Conceptualizing and communicating in SoTL: A framework for the field. Teaching & Learning Inquiry, 3(2), 37-53. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1148477.pdf
Braun, R. (2018, February 23). Methodological considerations for scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) research. TI Connections. http://connections.ucalgaryblogs.ca/2018/02/23/methodological-considerations-for-scholarship-of-teaching-and-learning-sotl-research/
Cross, K. P., & Steadman, M. H. (1996). Classroom research: Implementing the scholarship of teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Huber, M. T., & Morreale, S. P. (Eds.). (2002). Disciplinary styles in the scholarship of teaching and learning: Exploring common ground. Washington, DC: American Association for Higher Education. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED478800.pdf
Hubball, H. T., & Clarke, A. (2010). Diverse methodological approaches and considerations for SoTL in higher education. The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 1(2). http://dx.doi.org/10.5206/cjsotl-rcacea.2010.1.2
Divan, A., Ludwig, L. O., Matthews, K. E., Motley, P. M. & Tomljenovic-Berube, A. M. (2017). Survey of research approaches utilised in the scholarship of teaching and learning publications. Teaching & Learning Inquiry, 5(2). https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.5.2.3
Bernstein, J. L. (2018). Unifying SoTL methodology: Internal and external validity. Teaching & Learning Inquiry, 6(2), 115-126. https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.6.2.9
Nowell, L., Norris, J., White, D., & Moules, N. (2017). Thematic analysis: Striving to meet the trustworthiness criteria. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 16, 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1609406917733847
Pearson, M. L., Albon, S. P., & Hubball, H. (2015). Case study methodology: Flexibility, rigour, and ethical considerations for the scholarship of teaching and learning. Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 6(3), 12. https://doi.org/10.5206/cjsotl-rcacea.2015.3.12
Webb, A. (2015). Research interviews in the scholarship of teaching and learning. Transformative Dialogues: Teaching & Learning Journal, 8(1), 1-8. https://www.kpu.ca/sites/default/files/Transformative%20Dialogues/TD.8.1.9_Webb_Research_Interviews.pdf
Webb, A. S. & Welsh A. J. (2019). Phenomenology as a methodology for scholarship of teaching and learning research. Teaching & Learning Inquiry, 7(1), 168-181. https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.7.1.11
University of British Columbia Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology Equity & Inclusion Office. (nd). Equity and inclusion in data collection: Asking about Gender. https://isotl.sites.olt.ubc.ca/files/2019/03/eio-gender_guidelines.pdf
Jhangiani, R., Troisi, J. D., Fleck, B., Legg, A. M., & Hussey, H. D. (Eds.). (2015). A compendium of scales for use in the scholarship of teaching and learning. Society for the Teaching of Psychology. https://teachpsych.org/ebooks/compscalessotp
5. Writing, publishing and disseminating SoTL
SoTL research spans a wide range of disciplines and research approaches, and as such, writing about SoTL and publishing in SoTL journals can be more difficult than writing and publishing in one’s own discipline. The following list of resources provides guidance on writing for SoTL audiences, and publishing, and disseminating SoTL research.
Center for Engaged Learning. (2013, September 19). Strategies for going public with SoTL. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=namehdJxRIM
Healey, M., Matthews, K. E., & Cook-Sather, A. (2019). Writing scholarship of teaching and learning articles for peer-reviewed journals. Teaching and Learning Inquiry, 7(2), 27–50. https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.7.2.3
McKinney, K. (2012) Increasing the impact of SoTL: Two sometimes neglected opportunities. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 6(1), 1-6. https://doi.org/10.20429/ijsotl.2012.060103
Tight, M. (2018). Higher education journals: Their characteristics and contribution. Higher Education Research & Development, 37(3), 607-619. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2017.1389858
6. SoTL journals
The following is a list of journals dedicated to SoTL research and a link to the University of Toronto’s SoTL Library Database, which includes a list of discipline specific SoTL journals.
University of Toronto (nd). SoTL journals database. https://guides.library.utoronto.ca/SOTL_journals_databases
Canadian Journal of Higher Education (Simon Fraser University)
Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education – STLHE)
Higher Education: The International Journal of Higher Education Research (Springer) Press)
Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education (Emerald Insight)
Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (JoSoTL) (Indiana University)
Teaching and Learning Inquiry (University of Calgary)
The Journal of Higher Education (Taylor & Francis Online)
7. SoTL societies and conferences
The following is a list of SoTL societies and conferences where you can connect with the SoTL community and disseminate your research.
List of teaching and learning conferences, Center for Engaged Learning, Elon University. https://www.elon.edu/u/academics/catl/sotl/teaching-learning-conferences/
Annual Conference of STLHE: Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
Annual Conference of ISSOTL: the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
8. Engaging students
Engaging students in the research process is a core component of SoTL, inviting them into the “teaching commons” and promoting students’ shared ownership over learning. The following list of resources offers insight into student partnership in SoTL research and how faculty and students can benefit.
Healey, M., Flint, A., Harrington. (2014). Engagement through partnership: Students as partners in learning and teaching in higher education. The Higher Education Academy. Retrieved from: http://bit.ly/2s5UYbF
Cook-Sather, A., & Abbot, S. (2016). Translating Partnerships: How Faculty-Student Collaboration in Explorations of Teaching and Learning Can Transform Perceptions, Terms, and Selves. Teaching & Learning Inquiry: The ISSOTL Journal, 4(2), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.20343/10.20343/teachlearninqu.4.2.5
Werder, C., Thibou, S., Simkins, S., Hornsby, K., Legg, K., & Franklin, T. (2016). Co-Inquiry with Students: When Shared Questions Lead the Way. Teaching & Learning Inquiry: The ISSOTL Journal, 4(2), 1–15. https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.4.2.4
Braun, R. (2017, October 31). Making Sense of Partnership in SoTL. https://taylorinstitute.ucalgary.ca/resources/making-sense-of-partnership-in-sotl
Allin, L. (2014). Collaboration between staff and students in the scholarship of teaching and learning: The potential and the problems. Teaching & Learning Inquiry. 2(1), 95-102. doi:10.2979/teachlearninqu.2.1.95.
The Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning
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University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2 Canada