The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) - Frequently asked questions

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) - Frequently asked questions

1. What is the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning?

A working definition of the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL):

  • is focused on improving and supporting student learning through teaching practices;
  • includes reflection on our own teaching and the resultant learning of our students (this may include collecting evaluations from students to inform reflection, or some other way of assessing student learning/engagement with the material, etc.), and the implementation of subsequent interventions and improvements that better support student learning;
  • requires considerable familiarity with the publically disseminated knowledge both about the discipline-specific area that is being taught, and about learning and teaching, and the latter should inform actual teaching practice (i.e. it requires the scholar to engage with the literature); and,
  • involves dissemination of teaching practices for public/peer scrutiny.

For more detailed information please refer to the 'what is SoTL' section of this website.

2. Where can I go to learn more about SoTL?

For more SoTL sources please refer to the resources section of the site, in particular more about SoTL.

3. What is required from me if I am thinking of engaging in SoTL?

An ability to ask significant questions about student learning, a commitment to examining multiple sources of evidence and use methods of enquiry, a willingness to collaborate with peers and offer work for peer-review, and a commitment to build upon the work of others.

4. How do I go about making the results of my SoTL work public?

There are a variety of ways in which a scholar can make the results of their work within the realm of SoTL public. Examples are: local subject specific meetings; institutional learning and teaching or SoTL seminars and symposia; national meetings/conferences and peer-reviewed Journals. The term 'public' refers to the act of providing the opportunity for your work to receive critical review.  See the resources sections on SoTL journals and other forms of dissemination.

5. What are the funding opportunities for carrying out SoTL projects?

There are a number of possible sources of funding for carrying out work relating to SoTL.  More information on funding can be found here.

6. Do I require ethical approval for my SoTL project?

You will normally require ethical approval whenever you are collecting data of any kind from human participants, and you wish to make the results of your investigation public. Every institution/faculty have specific guidelines detailing ethical approval processes/procedures and this should be your starting point.
PLEASE do not collect any human data (not even anonymous questionnaire data) prior to ensuring the ethical stance of your institution/faculty.  It is highly unlikely that ethical approval will be granted retrospectively.

7. What climate best supports SoTL?

A community that encourages and supports effective teachers, has a commitment to successful student learning, provides opportunities for collaboration and exchange, supports peer review, and offers incentives and/or rewards for SoTL investigations.

8. How do I ensure I select the correct method for my SoTL project?

The method chosen for your project should fit the 'Clear question or statement of intention' being investigated (see stage 1).  Both quantitative and qualitative methods can be useful for investigating teaching/learning questions (see stage 3 of how to engage with SoTL).

9. Why should I engage in SoTL?

Why might one teaching practice be effective for promoting learning in one area, but not so effective in another?

SoTL offers the opportunity to learn more about teaching and its impact on student learning.  We need systematic investigations that allow us to draw conclusions about why certain teaching methods enhance student learning and others do not.  It also provides the basis for building theory and practical knowledge and teaching/learning practices.

10. What is the role for students in SoTL?

This will very much depend in the nature of your investigation.  Getting the students involved in framing of the question and the planning of the investigation is a very useful learning experience in itself.

11. Why should I bother to engage in SoTL?

Staff who are involved in teaching and the support of student learning should be encouraged to engage in SoTL projects in order to help improve their teaching and enhance the learning environment for their students.

12. How do I go about getting started on a SoTL project?

A good place to begin is within stage 1 - clear goals.