Skip to main content

Faculty Resources: Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Library resources for academic teaching and research support.

Welcome

"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

The scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) intersects teaching and research practices and places student learning at the center of its efforts. SoTL researchers identify a line of inquiry, gather/analyze relevant data, and share findings/conclusions with peers—to encourage peer evaluation, revisions of their research, and refined practices for student learning. Collegiality is key to SoTL research, as are deep levels of learner engagement.

This page 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.

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 The Center for the Advancement of Learning (CAL) at calhelpdesk@udc.edu to share your interest.

Center for the Advancement of Learning (CAL)

The mission of the Center for the Advancement of Learning (CAL) is to promote effective and innovative instruction and course design across all colleges and campuses. CAL supports the advancement of evidence-based teaching practices that promote learning and the professional development of all members of UDC’s teaching community.

You can learn more about CAL on their website.

To request a consultation session with CAL, please complete the consultation request form.

CAL also provides a special collection of books focused on teaching and learning. These items are available for circulation to faculty. You can learn more about the collection in this video. A current list of titles is available in the document below.

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 into 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 UDC faculty in an easily accessible and readily applicable format so that it could then be used to improve our classrooms. 

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 LearningTeaching and Learning Inquiry (the journal of the International Society of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning), New Directions for Teaching and LearningThe 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 includes 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 UDC. 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, UDC must continue the effort begun in this area.

Making a Difference: Application of SoTL to Enhance Learning

McKinney, K., “Making a Difference: Application of SoTL to Enhance Learning,” Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, v. 12, n.1 (2012)

How can SoTL can promote positive change in teaching and learning in the classroom and in a set of broader contexts? McKinney presents six strategies that will expand the influence of SoTL in the process of systemic change:

  1. expand public awareness of SoTL and its extant literature
  2. increase faculty engagement in a SoTL and connect with others doing similar work
  3. conduct future SoTL research to fill the gap in the extant literature
  4. involve students in the process
  5. apply SoTL research at the program, department, college, and institutional levels
  6. Current SoTL proponents promote it within their institutions and disciplines

Pedagogy

Active learning is when students are “doing and thinking,” rather than passively listening to information. Examples of active learning include:

  • Asking and answering questions
  • Discussions
  • Peer-to-peer sharing and activities
  • Flipped classroom
  • Process memos
  • Simulations
  • Debates

In a typical interteaching session, the class begins with a brief lecture covering questions or materials from the previous session. Following the lecture, students work in pairs to discuss the prep-guide questions they were given as an assignment for the current session. While this is occurring, the instructor rotates from group to group to assess their discussions and to provide additional insights or required help. As the session draws to an end, each student fills out a report detailing how the discussion went (and why) and any questions that he or she would like the instructor to discuss in the next session’s lecture segment.

Team teaching is when two or more faculty collaborate on the development and delivery of a course.

Student support involves enriching your learners beyond lesson instruction. Student support can include but is not limited to:

  • Mentoring
  • Advising
  • Networking
  • Modeling
  • Retention

Institutional Reform

Students can be partners in their learning. Students and faculty can collaborate to develop and enhance learning across all levels of an institution. This kind of collaboration can not only improve instructional methods but also an institution's programs and reputation.