How do you do the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning?

Practitioners of SoTL read the pedagogical literature, likely starting with the literature in their own disciplines, and then branch out into the broader field choosing such material as the National Teaching and Learning Forum, Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, The Successful Professor, or inventio. They'll attend instructional development workshops. After trying out some of the solutions or ideas they've discovered in their research, they will test whether they have been successful by doing some formative evaluation with their students, adjusting their approach, asking a peer to come into their class to review their changes, and so on.

For many of these teachers, the process will end there with improved teaching, better student learning, and positive solutions all round. In this example, scholarly teaching is informed, reflective, continuously developing. Its product is improved teaching and student learning outcomes:

If more university teachers reflected on, evaluated and researched their practices, more scholarly teaching should result and, more significantly, the quality of learning of our students should be enhanced (Healey, 2002).

Other teachers will go further, however, and share the results of their research and classroom practice with their colleagues in more formal ways. They will talk to their teaching committees, send a description of their activities to a listserv or post it on a web site, present a session in their department or college, give a conference presentation on it, or write a paper for publication. This latter case more closely meets the criteria for scholarship outlined in numerous sources including the University of Saskatchewan Standards for Promotion and Tenure:

Research and scholarly work is creative, intellectual work which is in the public realm and which has been subjected to external peer review.

See a fuller discussion of these on the other SoTL page.

Hutchings and Shulman give a succinct description of the three characteristics of the scholarship of teaching: being public ("community property"), open to critique and evaluation, and in a form that others can build on (11). So while most teachers may embark on the scholarship of teaching and learning to effect improvements in their own classrooms, many will succeed in having an effect beyond their local setting "by adding knowledge to-and even beyond-their disciplinary field" (Cambridge, 1999)