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SoTL - Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

SoTL - Scholarship on Teaching and Learning

Scholarship for Teaching and Learning (SoTL) -- a combination of research and teaching -- is a growing movement in post-secondary education that seeks to understand or improve student learning and the teaching approaches and practices that affect student learning. SoTL is a scholarly activity in which an instructor engages in careful planning, evaluation, and dissemination of their study in order to inform their own teaching and also to influence practice beyond their own classroom. It is practiced across all disciplines in higher education and thus employs a wide range of lenses and methods.

Adapted from the UAlberta CTL's Research on Teaching and Learning.

Basic Principles

The principles of best practice in SoTL (Felton 2013) are that an inquiry is:

  • Focused on student learning
  • Grounded in context (both in literature and in a teaching-learning context)
  • Conducted using sound methodology
  • Conducted in partnership with students (ethics approval, at a minimum)
  • Disseminated to contribute to both knowledge and practice

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 relevant evidence, and results in findings shared with peers to be reviewed and to expand a knowledge base.

Why Do SoTL?

SoTL is valuable because it benefits students, instructors, and institutions (Bernstein, 2013).

  • Benefits students. SoTL improves student learning by seeking to understanding teaching approaches and practices.
  • Benefits instructors. SoTL provides excellent models of practice and allows instructors to demonstrate the educational work they are doing.
  • Benefits institutions. SoTL generates high-quality evidence for internal and external assessment, as well as visible analyses of student learning taking place within institutions.

SoTL UAlberta

To learn about the University of Alberta's Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) - including resources, workshops, grants, and consultations to support SoTL research - visit the CTL website.

Getting Started

Elgie, S. (2014). Researching teaching and student outcomes in postsecondary education: An introduction. Second edition. Toronto: Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.

Gurung, R. A. R. & Wilson, J. H. (Eds.). (2013). Doing the scholarship of teaching and learning: Measuring systematic changes to teaching and improvements in learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Seidel, S. B., & Tanner, K. D. (2017). "What if students revolt?" -- Considering student resistance: Origins, options, and opportunities for investigation. CBE Life Sciences Education, 12(4), 586-595.