A Scholarly Approach to Teaching

The scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL, pronounced “sō-tul” in the US) is a synthesis of teaching, learning, and research in higher education that aims to bring a scholarly lens—the curiosity, the inquiry, the rigor, the disciplinary variety—to what happens in the classroom (brick-and-mortar, virtual, co-curricular, et al.).

SoTL involves

  • asking meaningful questions about student learning and about the teaching activities designed to facilitate student learning,
  • answering those questions by first making relevant student learning visible as evidence of thinking and learning (or mis-learning), and then systematically analyzing this evidence, and
  • sharing the results of that analysis publicly to invite review and to contribute to the body of knowledge on student learning in a variety of contexts, and
  • aiming to improve student learning by strengthening the practice of teaching (one’s own and others’).

We say that SoTL brings a scholarly approach because it begins with intellectual curiosity, is conducted deliberately and systematically, is grounded in an analysis of some evidence, and results in findings shared with peers to be reviewed and to expand a knowledge base.

The videos below distinguish between SoTL and scholarly teaching and then outline some of the key characteristics of SoTL.

"Scholarship of Teaching and Learning vs. Scholarly Teaching," an online component of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) 2013 Conference (c/o Elon University’s Center for Engaged Learning)

"Key Characteristics of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning," an online component of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) 2013 Conference (c/o Elon University’s Center for Engaged Learning)


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