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Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

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What is SoTL?

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is a multidisciplinary movement whose aim is to improve teaching and learning practices in the college classroom. To build useful, shared understandings about teaching, growing numbers of faculty are now bringing their knowledge, skills, and commitments as scholars to their classroom work. The scholarship of teaching and learning invites faculty to examine their own classroom practice, document what works, and share lessons learned in ways that others can build on. By creating a scholarship of teaching and learning, educators can benefit from the experiences of others and build upon established ideas.

Why does SoTL matter?

Most faculty care deeply about their teaching and their students' learning; many today are trying new classroom approaches in the hopes of strengthening the learning of students from increasingly diverse backgrounds and levels of preparation. But much of this work is lost to the larger academic community because it is private, undocumented, and untested. SoTL is an international, multidisciplinary movement to document, analyze and share advances in teaching practices with other educators.

Faculty who have made SoTL a career priority argue in part that they do so because of their passion for student learning. Lee Shulman takes the additional step of arguing that teachers have an ethical obligation to examine the effectiveness of their efforts to "influence the minds of others"; (2002). Hallmarks of SoTL, Collaboration web site

Basic Literature on SoTL

Getting Started

The SoTL site for Illinois State University, known nationally for its long-standing involvement in SoTL, is a thorough resource, helpful for those at all levels of knowledge about SoTL. It includes links to online resources; examples of SoTL work; links to disciplinary organizations, journals, and programs that offer SoTL support in that field; and tips for getting SoTL work published.

Enhancing Learning Through the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: The Challenges and Joys of Juggling by Kathleen McKinney. Written by sociology professor and endowed chair in SoTL at Illinois State University, this is the most thorough and current resource on SoTL. It includes definitions of the term, rationales for conducting research in SoTL, suggestions for getting started and moving forward with an SoTL project, and ideas for publication. Several helpful appendices provide an extensive bibliography, list of journals and online SoTL resources, as well as potential funding sources for SoTL. This is a great resource for individual faculty, for faculty SoTL groups, for faculty development coordinators, and for administrators.

More SoTL Resources

The Peer Review of Teaching Project (PRTP) serves as an international repository for course portfolios written by faculty who teach at post-secondary institutions. PRTP provides faculty with a structured and practical model that combines inquiry into the intellectual work of a course, careful investigation of student understanding and performance, and faculty reflection on teaching effectiveness. Begun in 1994, the PRTP has engaged hundreds of faculty members from numerous universities. Here is an excellent example of an instructor's course portfolio for a composition course, including comments on it from her peers.
Teaching Ourselves: A Model to Improve, Assess, and Spread the Word by Laura Levine et al. Published in the International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 1.2 (2007), the authors present a modest and workable plan for a small group of faculty who want to carry out an SoTL project together. This is useful for those wanting to get started in SoTL and to build collegiality through collaboration about teaching and learning.