What is SoTL and why do we need it?
SoTL is a systematic, research-based field of study concerned with identifying, understanding, and sharing effective teaching practices that impact student learning. The goal is to improve pedagogical practices, enhance student engagement and success, and contribute to the broader field of teaching. SoTL research employs a range of methodologies including qualitative and quantitative research, classroom-based investigations, and interdisciplinary collaborations. By examining teaching practices, assessing student outcomes, and engaging in reflective practices, faculty members can generate new knowledge and evidence about teaching and learning, improve their own instruction, and contribute to the collective understanding of effective educational practices. SoTL is especially important because most university faculty earned their degrees in graduate programs that did not include teaching methodology as part of the curriculum--even though there is a robust, evidence-based body of scholarship about what “works” in higher education classrooms. Knowing a little (or a whole lot) about SoTL can help you do what’s best for your students and yourself and save you time and energy as you design your courses and assignments--leading to better outcomes for everyone.
How do you get started? What are components of a SoTL research project?
Similar to many scholarly research projects, a SoTL project includes a research question (in this case about teaching and learning) a thorough, targeted literature search and review to explore existing research and gaps, a research design section (including data collection and analysis methods), results and findings, as well as potential application in the classroom.
Faculty often begin SoTL projects by identifying an area of teaching and learning that they are passionate about or wish to investigate. This is often the result of reflection on teaching experiences, challenges, and innovations. Even though the research is classroom-based, SoTL work--like all impactful scholarship--still needs to meet the standards and rigor of disciplinary research. When it involves students, SoTL research generally also needs IRB approval, so faculty need to anticipate time for IRB application and approval process in their research plans.
What about dissemination?
Effective, research-based pedagogy needs to be shared to make an impact for students and instructors. As in the disciplines, there are many books, journals, websites, and conferences focused on SoTL. See below.
Where can I find SoTL resources?
If you’re interested in conducting SoTL research, here are some peer-reviewed journals, books, and websites to help you get a sense of the field or consider how to take the next step.
- Overview of SoTL and Guidelines for Research
- Center for Engaged Learning (Elon University) – What is SoTL?
- Engaging in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: A Guide to the Process, and How to Develop a Project from Start to Finish
- The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning In and Across the Disciplines (Indiana University Press)
- SoTL Publications
- College Teaching
- Journal of Neurodivergent Learning and Teaching in Higher Education
- Teaching & Learning Inquiry
- Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
- International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning
- SoTL Conferences and Professional Organizations
- Kennesaw State University’s SoTL Summit
- The International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
- Lilly Conference
- POD Network
- The Teaching Professor Conference
- Discipline Specific Resources
- American Political Science Association (APSA) Educate
- Supporting the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at Liberal Arts Colleges
- Art History Teaching Resources
- Arts & Humanities and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
- International Journal of Education and the Arts
- Teaching Foreign Language in an Active Learning Classroom (Poster)
- Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology
- The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: A Guide for Scientists, Engineers, and Mathematicians (Oxford Press)
- Getting Started in SoTL (Mini-Workshop Presentation and Examples for STEM)
If you’re looking for a resource that’s not on this list or would like to talk more about your SoTL project, please feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to talk with you!
Page author: Lisa Chang, PhD, Faculty Development
Last updated: August 4, 2023