The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
The scholarship of teaching and learning invites faculty . . . to view teaching as serious, intellectual work, ask good questions about their students’ learning, seek evidence in their classrooms that can be used to improve practice, and make this work public so that others can critique it, build on it, and contribute to the wider teaching commons.” (Shulman, 2006, p. ix)
As a field of inquiry, the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) closely and critically explores various aspects of student learning in order to improve instructional methodologies, courses, and programs. “A significant characteristic of SoTL is the collaborative showcasing of insights with other educators who may in turn evaluate and expand upon initiatives and efforts” (Hutchings, Huber & Ciccone, 2011).
As reflective educators, we may intuitively recognize that students are being positively impacted through the various instructional activities we implement in our courses and across our programs. SoTL projects encourage an empirical investigation of these anecdotal instances and allow us to make declarative statements about what “works” to positively impact student growth and development.
Unlike experimental research that is highly controlled and often clinical in its approach, SoTL is “messy” and iterative. It has its roots in action research, which implies a “boots on the ground” perspective and indicates a movement to address in-process challenges and questions surrounding educational quality, student achievement, and the best instructional and pedagogical practices to influence both.
[SoTL] marries scholarly inquiry to any of the intellectual tasks that comprise the work of teaching – designing a course, facilitating classroom activities, trying out new pedagogical ideas, advising, writing student learning outcomes, evaluating programs.” (Hutchings, Huber, & Ciccone, 2011)
Anyone can engage in SoTL, and those institutions that engage students through the reflective practice embedded within ePortfolios are particularly well-suited to explore the impact of these practices on student learning and success.
The SoTL Research Process
Like action research, SoTL often follows a research process that begins with wondering and searching:
Note. Image from Mertler, 2017, p. 38