Reflective self-study of teaching and learning to achieve optimal outcomes for student
What is the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL)?
SoTL is an intentional journey of reflection and continuous improvement. The scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) is a broad category of inquiry focused
on "engag[ing] teachers in looking closely and critically at student learning for
the purpose of improving their own courses and programs" (Hutchings, Huber, & Ciccone,
2011, p.7). Faculty engaged in SoTL conduct systemic, reflective inquiries of their
own practice (Bernstein, 2010; Grauerholz & Zipp, 2008; Hutchings, 2000; Mettetal,
2001; Potter & Kustra, 2011).
Purpose of the SoTL
The purpose of the SoTL is the production of outstanding teaching (Bass, 1999; Bernstein,
2010; Hutchings, 2000; Mettetal, 2001; Potter & Kustra, 2011; Prosser, 2008) focused
on the goal of improving student learning (Bernstein, 2010; Potter & Kustra, 2011;
Focus on improving [your] own practices and the understanding demonstrated by [your]
own students (Bernstein 2010, p. 4).
The SoTL should not be confused with other forms of scholarship, such as discovery,
integration, or application. While many SoTL inquiries may be classified within the
definitions of these other forms, the SoTL distinguishes itself with its adherence
only to identified core aspects of scholarship, which can be seen across all forms
Common Dimensions of Scholarship (Glassick, Huber, & Maeroff, 1997, p. 25)
Significant [important/valuable] Results
Scholarship is an expectation when conducting a SoTL inquiry, however, there is a
great deal of personalization allowed within this type of inquiry given the nature
of self-study and practical application of learning within each faculty member's unique
context. SoTL inquiries exist on a vast continuum and may include activities such
investigating a single act of practice within a classroom (Hutchings, 2000);
exploring key issues within larger contexts (Nelson, 2003);
engaging in formal research (Nelson, 2003); and/or
participating in the formulation of new frameworks and theory (Hutchings, 2000).
Each faculty member decides upon the scope of inquiry based on personal context. What
is of most value is the authenticity with which the faculty member has identified
a "problem of practice worth pursuing" (Bass, 1999) through a systemic inquiry focused
on improving student learning. Regardless of selected scope, the inquiry of practice
will be focused on, "...paying close attention to [your] students' learning, reflecting
on [your] own contributions to that learning, and making [your] thoughts and [your]
work visible to others" (Bernstein, 2010, p.1).
A wide variety of methodologies, approaches, and ways of sharing conclusions (Bass,
1999; Bernstein, 2010; Nelson, 2003; Hutchings, 2000) are accepted within the SoTL.
The decision to use discipline-specific methodologies is not surprising (Bass, 1999;
Bernstein, 2010; Hutchings, 2000; Potter & Kustra, 2011) as faculty bring their expertise
as scholars to an inquiry into their own teaching practice and student learning. However,
experimenting with unfamiliar methodologies is encouraged as "there is power in methodological
conversation and collaboration across fields, as faculty borrow approaches and perspectives
from colleagues in other areas" (Hutchings, 2000). For the SoTL, what is valued methodologically
is alignment to inquiry goals in relationships to the problem or question(s) being
addressed by the faculty within the inquiry.
Most important is that the method selected be carefully justified and appropriate
to the project's goals (Glassick, Huber, & Maeroff, 1997, p. 29).
In SoTL inquiry, the object of analysis is teaching and learning (Potter & Kustra).
It is an inquiry conducted with a "transformational agenda" (Hutchings, 2000) where
changes to both teacher practice and student learning are expected outcomes from the
process. The majority of the time, SoTL inquiry is a reflective self-examination into
instructional practice(s) by seeking answers to questions about "what works" or "what
is" (Hutchings, 2000, p. 4). However, SoTL inquiries may also be driven by a desired
future vision of the possible (Shulman) and also includes work towards developing
new "conceptual frameworks for shaping thought about practice" (Hutchings, 2000, p.
5). A SoTL inquiry should utilize practical practices (Bernstein, 2010; Hutchings,
2000; Nelson, 2003) with practical significance directly informing teaching practice