Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

What Is SoTL?

SOTL Poster Session
SOTL Poster Session

The scholarship of teaching and learning involves the disciplinary, cross-disciplinary, and inter-disciplinary study of teaching practice and student learning. SoTL has an impact beyond the individual teacher, classroom, department, and university. The aim of SoTL scholars is to engage in a rigorous and systematic inquiry process in order to critique, improve, enhance, and develop multiple perspectives that can help inform the teaching and learning process and enrich higher education in the 21st century.

In 2008, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching explored SoTL's influence on broad issues in higher education. They identified the following areas of impact:

  • Contributes to important agendas and initiatives in higher education
  • Changes how teachers teach and contributes to our knowledge of the factors that make change happen
  • Changes how we understand and talk about learning
  • Has direct and indirect effects on student learning and success
  • Contributes to our knowledge of the conditions that affect the exchange and improvement of pedagogy
  • Strengthens development programs for higher education professionals
  • Informs changes in the policies and procedures of the institution
  • Affects the culture of academic life
  • Leads to changes in how we define and evaluate scholarship
  • Is growing and evolving as a movement

SoTL Lifecycle

SoTL projects generally consist of the following phases: 

  1. Getting started with SoTL
  2. Conducting SoTL research
  3. Sharing SoTL knowledge

Another way to conceptualize this cycle is proposed by Mary Taylor Huber and Pat Hutchings in "The Advancement of Learning: Building the Teaching Commons":

  1. Questioning
  2. Gathering and exploring evidence
  3. Trying out and refining new insights
  4. Going public

At the institutional level, SoTL can be viewed as an ongoing program with all four practices occurring simultaneously.