Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

SoTL is a growing field in post-secondary education that uses systematic, deliberate and methodological inquiry into teaching (behaviours/practices, attitudes, and values) in order to improve student learning (Potter & Kustra, 2011). Its methodology disseminates findings beyond a single course and mobilizes knowledge.

The field of SoTL aims to take teaching beyond a well-rehearsed practice into a scholarly activity, one that engages the instructor in careful planning, evaluation and dissemination. SoTL uses a range of methodologies and builds on disciplinary practices and epistemologies.

There are three main SoTL objectives:

  1. To improve student learning by finding better, more engaging ways to teach.
  2. To conduct scholarly examination of what takes place inside the classroom, asking questions and collecting evidence on the effectiveness of different methods of teaching.
  3. To make the results of this analysis readily available to other scholars, inviting their comment and review, and contributing to knowledge on student learning.

Engaging in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

One of the defining features of SoTL is the systematic study of teaching practices and learning experiences. Hubball and colleagues (2013) suggested this systematic study requires an approach that “internalizes theory and practice” through “rigorous and cyclical process of inquiry.” We recommend the following considerations for a successful design and dissemination:

Ask meaningful questions about your teaching practice(s): What is working well and what challenges have you faced in your classroom? Have you noticed a student behaviour you’d like to understand better? Are there any pedagogies or technologies that might further inform how you approach your teaching? How could they be brought into in your particular teaching context? What could you learn from working with  other instructors? The SoTL Seed Program is an excellent starting point for investigating some of these questions, and for getting personalized support.

Conceptualize which approach will help you understand these practices and their impact: Answering questions about teaching and learning requires evaluation of the learning environment. By systematically documenting processes and outcomes, you can learn what is and isn’t working for you and your students. At ISoTL, we understand that learning is an evolving process, and support projects through different iterations. If you need more support, consult with one of our team members about how best to evaluate and research your teaching practice(s). We’re here to help!

Develop methodologically sound processes for reflection and action: Methodological considerations are central in the scholarship of teaching and learning, contributing to educational leadership, program-level reform, curriculum renewal initiatives, and implementation processes in higher education. We have curated a list of relevant literature and resources on evaluation frameworks and methodologies to help with your SoTL inquiry.

Engage in idea exchange to inform practices: It’s important to connect with the UBC community and share lessons learned – both positive and negative – with fellow SoTL practitioners. There are many avenues to disseminate your work at UBC, such as CTLT Institutes, Celebrate SoTL Day, and departmental meetings. We also encourage you to attend teaching and learning conferences (funding support is available through the SoTL Dissemination Fund), events and workshops and learn from others doing SoTL work outside of UBC. Our resource page offers a sample of research articles as well as SoTL networks and how-to guides. You can also view a list of SoTL publications and presentations by the UBC community. Please get in touch with us for more information and opportunities, or sign up for our Newsletter.

Conduct your work responsibly and ethically: Whether your work requires institutional ethical approval or not, abide by UBC’s policies on scholarly integrity. Consider how students may benefit from the inquiry and ensure they are treated in a way that respects their dignity and well-being, and are not put at disadvantage or risk. Ethical considerations also include issues of consent to participate versus involuntary participation, privacy invasion, and crediting for content creation and intellectual contribution.

We invite you to watch a video on the History of SoTL, created by the Center for Engaged Learning at ELON University (September, 2013).