Scholarship of Teaching and Learning - Assessment

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning - Assessment

Boyer’s (1990) conviction that the scholarship of teaching should be rewarded as well as, or on par with, other forms of scholarship was taken seriously, it seems, by some academic institutions.  However, this then led to the emergence of a practical problem, concerning how such scholarship of teaching should actually be assessed in order that it may be rewarded accordingly.  In attempting to address this problem, Glassick et al. (1997a, summarising the work of Glassick et al., 1997b) argue that:

'it will be possible to take account of different kinds of scholarly activity and accord each the recognition it deserves only with agreed-upon standards of scholarly performance for all types of scholarly work.' (Glassick et al., 1997a, page 1)

Thus, Glassick et al. (1997a, 1997b) set about the task of trying to identify criteria for assessment that apply equally to the four different types of scholarship, including the scholarship of discovery (discipline-specific research), and SoTL.  The results were the following 6 standards to be applied to assess the quality of any project from any of the different types of scholarship:

Clear goals

  • Scholars in any area should clearly identify their objectives and purposes.

Adequate preparation

  • For all areas of scholarship, this would include appropriate engagement with relevant, current literature in the field.
  • For SoTL projects, this could include being suitably familiar with the course topic to prepare high quality teaching materials and being familiar with the appropriate teaching and learning literature.

Appropriate methods

  • For scholarship in general, this would include the use and application of methods that relate to the stated goals.
  • In terms of SoTL, appropriate methods could include different aspects of methodology and procedure from ‘the logic of the syllabus to pedagogical procedures to evaluation’ (Glassick et al., 1997a, page 4).

Significant results 

  • For any project, this relates to the extent to which the results relate to the stated goals and the level of significance of the contribution to the field.
  • For SoTL in particular, this will likely relate to the impact or likely impact on learning.

Effective communication

  • This should be evident in all forms of scholarship and requires the dissemination of our ideas and findings to the wider academic community.

Reflective critique

  • This is where ‘the scholar thinks about his or her work, seeks the opinion of others, and develops his or her learning over time’ (Glassick et al., 1997a, page 5).  This would also include evaluation of one’s own scholarly projects in order to learn from these and plan subsequent work, and may lead to interventions in response to the evaluation of teaching by students.

These scholarship assessment criteria from Glassick et al. (1997a) seem to be those that are most widely adhered to in the literature on scholarship, and so will be adopted also on this web resource, although we have chosen to combine 'Appropriate methods' and 'Significant results' for this resource hrncr we refer to the five stages to engage with SoTL.  These assessment criteria also complement our working definition and its four attributes as discussed.

Additional work has developed these criteria further, in terms of allowing us to be able to assess to what extent academics have met these criteria, in order to assess their work as being at the threshold level, the advanced level, or exemplary (The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 2006).  For the sake of preventing this consideration of assessment from becoming any longer than it already is, we won’t discuss these additional criteria, but if you are interested you can read about this here (see especially slide 20).

In Depth: Assessment of SoTL activity vs assessment of the teaching & learning scholar

In our working definition of SoTL, we refer to this as an activity that academic teachers can engage in.  Notably, these scholarship (and SoTL) assessment criteria from Glassick et al. (1997) also relate to the merits of the scholar’s projects (not of the actual scholar).  It was noted here that the view of SoTL that is emphasised here is of importance in terms of how it might be assessed.  If it is the academic themselves that we wish to assess, in terms of their level of achievement and whether they have yet reached the level of scholar of teaching, then further methods of assessment would have to be implemented.  For example, to demonstrate that one is a scholar of teaching and learning, it would have to be demonstrated also that they are first an excellent teacher, and then an expert teacher, in accordance with the hierarchy of progression.  Thus, presumably one source of evidence to be assessed would be evaluations from students across all aspects of a teacher's teaching, in order to demonstrate that the teaching does indeed facilitate student learning, and so is an example of excellent teaching.  As Kreber (2002) states:

'Excellence in teaching is usually identified on the basis of a judgement made about performance. Students, peers, and in some cases faculty members themselves describe how they perceive the performance.' (Kreber, 2002, page 9)

In addition, expertise in teaching, reflecting extensive knowledge of the literature and an application of this to teaching practice, could presumably be evidenced by means such as port folios.  Finally, the labelling of an individual as a scholar of teaching would presumably require a reputation amongst fellow pedagogues as someone who frequently disseminates work that makes a significant contribution to the body of knowledge about teaching and the support of learning. The demonstration of an academic teacher as both an excellent and expert teacher and also scholar of teaching might be relevant for the purposes of identifying if someone is eligible for promotion/advancement etc., instead of the purposes of this resource which is to support all academic teachers in their engagement in the activity of implementing SoTL projects.  

Questions for reflection:

  1. What is your opinion of the assessment criteria of scholarship as proposed by Glassick et al. (1997)
  2. Do you agree that these criteria apply as well to the scholarship of teaching and learning as to the other types of scholarship, and why or why not? 
  3. Are there any of these criteria that you would amend or omit? 
  4. Are there any criteria that you can think to add to these? 
  5. Are there any other ways that you can think to assess the level of achievement that an individual has reached with regards to their teaching (i.e. are they an excellent or expert teacher, or scholar of teaching)?


Boyer, E.L. (1990). Scholarship reconsidered: priorities of the professoriate. Princeton, NJ: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Available here.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (2006). Opportunities for Scholarship. Presentation to Hong Kong University Grants Committee, Hong Kong, 23-24 January, 2006. 

Glassick, C.E., Huber, M.T., and Maeroff, G.I. (1997a). Scholarship assessed: A special report on faculty evaluation.  Presentation to Fifth AAHE Conference on Faculty Roles and Rewards, San Diego, California, January 18, 1997. 

Glassick, C.E., Huber, M.T., and Maeroff, G.I. (1997b). Scholarship Assessed: Evaluation of the Professoriate. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Kreber, C. (2002). Teaching Excellence, Teaching Expertise, and the Scholarship of Teaching. Innovative Higher Education, Vol. 27, No. 1, Fall 2002.