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Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Home

In support of advancing the overarching goals of Vision 2022, this guide is intended as a resource for Faculty to engage with advanced teaching and learning practices through the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL).

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

"The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is an emerging movement of scholarly thought and action that draws on the reciprocal relationship between teaching and learning at the post-secondary level (Boyer, 1990). An important goal of SoTL is to enhance and augment learning amongst and between individual learners by investigating the many features of discipline specific expertise and best pedagogical practice (McKinney, 2006)." - Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

This guide is intended as a resource for faculty in engaging with the scholarship of teaching and learning to support the advancement of teaching and learning at the University of the District of Columbia.

What Can I Find Here?

Each page of this guide is centered around a common theme or concept. Within that page, you will find a summaries of significant articles (a brief summary that will link to a longer more in-dept summary of the article, and a link to the full article), as well as suggested articles for further reading on the topic.

As the guide grows, we will include possible applications for the concept, including sample exercises or learning activities for the classroom.

Where Can I Go From Here?

Excited about advancing teaching and learning at UDC? Let us know! Advancing Teaching and Learning at the University of the District of Columbia depends on our excellent faculty. If you want to do SoTL research or participate in a discussion group, or professional development workshop, reach out to calhelpdesk@udc.edu to share your interest.

An Introductory Overview to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Literature

Over the past few decades there has been a growing trend in higher education to re-evaluate the means by which education is delivered in classrooms. For many in academia the days of the “sage on the stage” as the primary model of teaching is increasingly viewed as both anachronistic and ineffective. While institutional acceptance of pedagogical reforms is a relatively recent development in American higher education, the scholarly literature on advanced teaching and learning is both quite a bit older and rather extensive. Indeed, some of the journals focusing on the scholarship of teaching and learning, particularly those within certain disciplines, go back over four decades. In the last two decades this literature has expanded considerably. Despite this growth, however, it is likely that a considerable segment of the professoriate is unaware of the existence or relevance of this scholarship. Nonetheless, the lack of focus that most graduate programs place on teaching skills and the continued emphasis that writing within disciplines receives in determining advancement in the academy, it is understandable that many academics pay scant attention to any scholarly literature outside of their specialty. This problem is sometimes exacerbated by the nature of much of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), which might not be accessible to those unfamiliar with the field.

In order to increase awareness of this literature amongst the faculty at UDC and provide access to it, members of the committee on the Strategic Plan for Advanced Teaching and Learning (SPATL) undertook a project that would help to accomplish these goals, which included a preliminary foray in to the SoTL literature. The objectives of this project were several-fold.

  • First, the project intended to identify the dominant themes within the scholarship of teaching and learning;
  • Second, the project sought to gain insight into the latest trends and most innovative ideas in advanced teaching and learning;
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this project aimed to bring that information to the U.D.C. faculty in an easily accessible and readily applicable format so that it could then be used to improve our classrooms. We have done so through the creation of brief summaries of the articles examined which are accessible through the Learning Resources Divisions’ webpage at http://udc.libguides.com/SoTL.

While the SoTL literature is incredibly broad, it can potentially be broken down into some generalized categorizations. One fundamental division within the literature, for example, is the dichotomy between discipline based sources and those that focus on the development and definition of the field of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning itself. In the case of the former, one can find scholarly journals and/or articles focused on improving the teaching in most academic fields, though the most prominent focus is on  education, psychology, sociology, and history. More recently there has been a proliferation of journals that focus not on a specialized subject area, but rather on the conceptual bases of teaching and learning. This broader approach to teaching and learning can be seen in The Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Teaching and Learning Inquiry (the journal of the International Society of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning), New Directions for Teaching and Learning, The Journal of University Teaching and Learning, and The Peabody Journal of Education, to name but a few examples.

The SoTL literature can also be broken down, in general terms, into several areas of primary focus. While the survey conducted as part of this project only scratched the surface of the extant literature, five prominent broadly construed themes or topic areas emerged in the source material.

  • Pedagogy. Especially prominent in this area are pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning that focus on student engagement through active learning methodologies
  • Professional development. While some of this material examines specialized research in professional development (particularly in the field of education), much of the literature of SoTL in general is intended to serve as a means of retraining the academy to employ more efficacious methods of educational delivery.
  • Student support. This theme covers a broad range of topics running from mentoring and advising to institutional support systems.
  • Institutional reform intended to promote advanced teaching and learning at an institutional level.  Similar to the literature on student support, the source base on institutional reform covers a broad expanse of topics including institutional culture, evaluation of courses and programs, faculty advancement policies, institutional research, and the creation of specialized teaching and learning academies or centers.
  • The practice  of SoTL itself, describing proper methodologies of research, obstacles and institutional procedures, and innovative approaches to engaging in the process of studying teaching and learning at the higher educational level.

As noted above, each of these five overarching themes include articles that cover a broad array of topics. Given the timeframe of this project, the expanse of more specific topics examined in this survey is necessarily limited. Further, while this work began as a truly exploratory endeavor (an attempt to identify trends and themes), it also resulted in several areas of foci that seemed particularly interesting or relevant to the context of U.D.C. In the course of engaging with the SoTL literature, several specific topics within the theme of pedagogy emerged as particularly interesting: the Jigsaw approach; interteaching; and strategies to improve discussion and critical thinking exercises. The articles in each of these areas offered detailed explanations of innovative approaches to teaching and learning that could be easily applied to the classroom. Similarly within the theme of student support there was a significant body of literature that addressed the efficacy and importance of faculty mentoring, particularly in the case of minority students. In the realm of institutional reform several articles examined in the course of this project offered innovative approaches to course and program evaluations. In particular, these studies examined methods of more fully engaging students in the process of evaluation. Finally, a number of articles included in this survey offered insight into conducting SoTL research on the course and institutional levels. In addition to offering advice about the proper procedural necessities of conducting SoTL research and suggesting effective methodologies, several articles presented a compelling case for working with students in a way that viewed them less as subjects of a study and more as partners who should collaborate in research, analysis, and writing.

The initial examination of SoTL undertaken by this project illustrates the utility of this literature for efforts currently underway at the University of the District of Columbia. One must, however, view this project as just a beginning rather than as a final product. In order to fully gain the benefits of the existing literature on teaching and learning U.D.C must continue the effort begun in this area. As such, there a several important steps that the University community should take as we proceed down the path of reform.

Librarian

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Faith Rusk
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