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FAQ's about SoTL

What is the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)?

SoTL is the work faculty do when they

  • apply their disciplinary knowledge to investigate questions about teaching and learning,
  • draw conclusions based on evidence provided by students,
  • submit those conclusions to peer review and
  • make them available for others in the academy to build upon.

Why would a faculty member want to undertake this work?

SoTL investigations, in fact, offer faculty an effective means of finding out and documenting what their students are actually learning, whether a particular method really does work, or what might be possible if an experimental approach is tried. SoTL can also lead faculty to propose new theoretical frameworks for learning in their disciplines.

According to The Advancement of Learning (Huber and Hutchings, 2005, p. 107), through SoTL work, college faculty can gain a wider range of knowledge and experience about teaching and learning than most faculty members possess. This knowledge is not based on anecdotal evidence, but relies on systematic documentation, inquiry and reflection and serves to make the private acts of teaching and learning public. SoTL work can be published and judged by the same criteria as traditional research.

How is SoTL work assessed?

Scholarship Assessed (Glassick, Huber and Maeroff, 1997, p.36) posits that all modes of scholarship can be assessed according to the same standards:

  • clear goals
  • adequate preparation
  • appropriate methods
  • significant results
  • effective presentation
  • reflective critique

However, most SoTL scholars recognize that in using one’s classroom as a laboratory, one may not have large numbers of subjects, representative samples or control groups. Hence, the methods used and evidence gathered must suit the work’s context and goals, and can include pre/post tests, surveys, interviews, focus groups, samples of student work, think-alouds, journals, etc.