Loyola University Chicago

Faculty Center for Ignatian Pedagogy

What is SOTL?

What is the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL)? A Brief Overview

The scholarship of teaching and learning, also known as SOTL, is a type of research that is typically inspired by a teaching question or problem. For example, an instructor might do a case study about how the use of flexible deadlines throughout the semester shapes student feedback. Empirical methods are used to explore the question or problem. The research or theory that informs exploration of the problem is typically in the field of education or learning sciences. This research is usually conducted in the classroom, and sometimes conducted with students (Felten, 2013). Different areas of SOTL research include, but are not limited to, evidence of effectiveness, reports on a pedagogical approach in an individual class, and case studies of teaching and learning (Kern et al., 2015). At FCIP, SOTL Faculty Fellows are examining the role of Ignatian Pedagogy, student centered design, and anti-oppressive in teaching and student learning.

In a seminal piece, Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate (1990), Ernest Boyer described four types of scholarship in the academy: application, teaching, discovery, and integration. Boyer developed the scholarship of teaching in response to the ongoing debate about the value of teaching versus research in one's discipline in the academy, and to draw attention to teaching as an important part of faculty work. The goal of the scholarship of teaching is to examine teaching excellence, scholarly approaches to teaching, and the scholarship of teaching (Boyer, 1990). Boyer's conceptualization of the scholarship of teaching was then expanded to scholarship of teaching and learning. This new conceptualization was meant to emphasize the use of a systematic approach to investigate teaching and student learning, like how one would go about conducting research in their disciplines (Kern et al., 2015).

By engaging in SOTL, educators can elevate the intellectual work of teaching and research about teaching, promote dialogue about teaching throughout the university that is informed by research about students, and use what is learned from the inquiry to improve teaching. In addition, when educators collaborate across disciplines or within their departments to engage in SOTL, the process of doing this work helps build community among educators across disciplines and across universities (Teaching as Intellectual Work, n.d.). The findings of SOTL research are meant to be shared widely via presentation or publication or other promotion to help all faculty enhance their teaching and understand more about student learning (Felten, 2013; Kern et al., 2015).

Boyer, E. L. (1990). Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. Princeton University Press, 3175 Princeton Pike, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648.

Felten, P. (2013). "Principles of Good Practice in SoTL." Teaching and Learning Inquiry, 1(1), 121-125.

Kern, B., Mettetal, G., Dixson, M., Morgan, R. K. (2015). "The Role of SoTL in the Academy: Upon the 25th Anniversary of Boyer's Scholarship Reconsidered." Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 1-14.

Teaching as Intellectual Work | Center for Teaching Excellence (ku.edu)