Tip on Becoming Involved in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

The following tip answers 7 questions:

1: What is scholarly teaching?

2:  What is the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL)?

3: What are the benefits of SoTL?

4: What are the criticisms of SoTL?

5: How do I initiate SoTL in my own teaching practice?

6: What support is available at CBU for SoTL?

7: What opportunities are available to disseminate information gained through SoTL?

What is scholarly teaching?

Scholarly teaching focuses on student learning and is anchored in the literature of teaching and learning with an emphasis on documenting student learning. Scholarly teaching assists individuals in improving their teaching practice (Policies and Procedures... n.d.)

What is the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)?

The scholarship of teaching means that we as teachers and researchers “invest in our teaching the intellectual powers we practice in our research" (Bender & Grey, 1999).

The scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) is based on Boyer’s work for the Carnegie Foundation “Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate,” in which he states: SoTL “involves systematic study of teaching and/or learning and the public sharing and review of such work through presentations or publications” (in McKinney, 2003, ¶ 9).

The scholarship of teaching goes beyond scholarly teaching to disseminate evidence of outcomes through professional outlets so that it may be peer reviewed and critiqued. This exchange with other members of our professional communities enables them to build on our work. From this perspective, teaching and learning is viewed as community property. (Policies and Procedures... n.d.)

What are the benefits of SOTL to students and faculty?

  • Renewed interest in teaching and learning issues
  • Discussion among colleagues initiates communities of SoTL
  • Both students and teachers are involved in discovery of knowledge
  • Effects improvements in teaching and learning
  • Effects Teaching and learning beyond your own classroom through dissemination of knowledge (Meyers, 2007)

What are the Criticisms of SoTL?

There continues to be debate in the teaching and learning literature with regard to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Some (Meyers, 2007; Woodhouse, 2010) tout the benefits of SoTL, while others point out that involvement in SoTL may not reap the same professional benefits as discipline specific research (Kreber, 2007; O’ Meara, 2006). Interest in SoTL; however, need not be solely based on the reward of tenure or receiving teaching awards. Examining and reflecting about teaching can provide teachers with formative and summative feedback that can be used to improve their teaching practice. Opponents of SoTL say there is little evidence of its transformational effects; that standard research priorities will bar recognition of SoTL in research-oriented institutions and that SoTL will not factor into the tenure process. Faculty unions may be concerned that encouraging multiple forms of scholarship will mean added responsibilities for faculty who are already fully loaded with teaching and disciplinary research responsibilities(Woodhouse, 2010; O’Meara, 2006). “Proponents of the scholarship of teaching and learning claim that it holds huge potential to improve teaching in higher education.” (Woodhouse, 2010, p.1).

How might I initiate SOTL in my own teaching?

Are you using an unusual way of teaching an aspect of your course? Would you like to investigate to see what effects these changes have on student learning? SoTL will facilitate inquiry in this area and is approached in much the same way as you would approach research in your discipline:  

  •  Identify the question, or describe what it is to be  learned
  • Develop a plan to gather  data  
  • Gather and analyze data  
  • Describe your results and generate a context for your results  
  • State your conclusions
  • Share your results with peers (make your results public with an audience)
  • Make decisions about future actions related to your question (Francis, 2007, p. 2)                                                    

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   - What support is available at CBU for SoTL?

In addition to the support provided by the Teaching and Learning Coordinator and the Faculty Liaison, Teaching and Learning, SoTL is supported at CBU in the several ways. Faculty may apply for RAP grants to research the SoTL. Start-up Grant funds ($2000 available to new faculty hires in their first 2 years) may be used for projects which examine the SoTL, provided funds are clearly for research and not for course development. Faculty engaged in SoTL may use the same resources accessible to other researchers, including individualised grant searches, one-on-one application development, editing and so on. Research dissemination on the SoTL will be scheduled with other research communication events (Jodi McDavid, CBU Research Support Officer).

What opportunities are available to disseminate information gained through SOTL?

Some Suggestions:

Internal Teaching and Research Events: Throughout the academic year Teaching and Learning Support and the Office of Research and Academic Institutes provide opportunities for faculty to present their research.

Centennial Symposium on Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: This conference is held annually in November and is sponsored by the Institute for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at Mount Royal University, Alberta, Canada. It features concurrent sessions by local, national, and international scholars who discuss completed investigations, works in progress, and call for collaboration with colleagues. For additional information visit the conference website.

Teaching Showcase Conference:This regional conference takes place in October each year and is under the auspices of the Association of Atlantic Universities’ (AAU) Faculty Development Committee. The conference, which usually attracts between 100-130 participants, rotates among all of the universities and colleges associated with the AAU. Notices regarding calls for submissions and for the conference are sent to all faculty members via email by the Teaching and Learning Coordinator. Information is also available on the CBU Teaching and Learning Website under the events category.

Dalhousie Conference on Teaching and Learning:This conference takes place in April at Dalhousie University. It attracts between 75-100 participants, mostly from the Maritime Provinces. Notices regarding calls for submissions and for the conference are sent to all faculty members via email by the Teaching and Learning Coordinator. Information is also available on the CBU Teaching and Learning Website under the events category.

Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) Conference:This national/international conference is under the auspices of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and takes place in June each year. The conference alternates between east, central, and western Canada and attracts upwards of 500 participants from Canada, the U.S., Britain, and many other countries. Notices regarding calls for submissions and for the conference are sent to all faculty members via email by the Teaching and Learning Coordinator. Information is also available on the CBU Teaching and Learning Website under the events category.

Research on Teaching and Learning: Integrated Practices Conference: This annual conference brings together faculty, students, staff, and administrators across disciplines and institutions to promote evidence-informed teaching practices through the sharing of research on teaching and learning. The conference is hosted by McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario and is held in early December each year. For additional information visit the conference website.

Other Teaching and Learning Conferences in Canada:

Educational Developers Caucus annual Conference (EDC):The 2011 conference will take place    February 23-25 at Algoma University, Sault St. Marie, Ontario: http://www.stlhe.ca/en/stlhe/constituencies/edc/EDC%20Conference/2011.php

Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education (CSSHE):The 2011 conference will take place at the University of New Brunswick and St. Thomas University from 30 May to 1 June 2011: http://www.csshe-scees.ca/06_01_conference.htm

Canadian Higher Education and Information Technology Conference (CANHEIT):The 2011 conference will be held at McMaster University, June 5-8: http://www.cuccio-cdpiuc.ca/en/canheit/index.php

Journals:

Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching

Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology

Canadian Journal for New Scholars in Education

Canadian Journal of Higher Education

International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

References

Bender, E. & Grey, D. (1999). The scholarship of teaching. Retrieved December 22, 2010 from: http://www.indiana.edu/~rcapub/v22n1/p03.html

Francis, R. (July, 2007). Getting started with SoTL in your classroom. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning,1(2). Retrieved December 23 from:      http://www.georgiasouthern.edu/ijsotl

Hutchings, P., & Shulman, L. S. (1999) The scholarship of teaching: New elaborations, new developments. Change,31(5),11-15.

Kreber, C. (2007). The Scholarship of teaching and learning—No one way. (TLA Interchange No. 1). Retrieved January 10, 2011 from http://www.tla.ed.ac.uk/interchange/summer2007.pdf

McKinney, K. (2003). Cross Endowed Chair in the Scholarship in Teaching and Learning, Illinois State University. Retrieved December 21, 2010 from:  http://www.sotl.ilstu.edu/downloads/pdf/definesotl.pdf

Meyers, R. A. (September, 2007). Report on the impact of the scholarship of teaching and learning on the UW-System. Retrieved December 22, 2010 from:  http://www4.uwm.edu/sotl/help_support/upload/UWS_Report_on_SoTL_impact.pdf

O’Meara, K. (Spring, 2006). Encouraging multiple forms of scholarship in faculty reward systems: Have academic cultures really changed? New Directions for Institutional Research,128, 77-95. Retrieved December 23, 2010 from: http://www.education.umd.edu/EDHI/about/faculty_pages/O'Meara/Encouraging%20Multiple.pdf

            Policies and procedures supporting the scholarship of teaching and learning in the research university. (N.D.). Research Universities Consortium for the Advancement of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Retrieved February 21, 2011 from: http://www.indiana.edu/~sotl/rucastl_keep/Policies-SoTL10-10-05.pdf

Woodhouse, R. (January, 2010). Hype or hope: Can the scholarship of teaching and learning fulfill its promise?International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning,4(1). Retrieved December 23, 2010 from: http://www.georgiasouthern.edu/ijsotl