In an earlier blog, I shared a definition of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) and where it might fit in the variety of activities faculty and instructors undertake related to teaching. In this post, I’d like to discuss how to move from scholarly teaching into SoTL. Scholarly teaching is characterized by using literature on teaching and learning to improve your own teaching practice or student learning. In scholarly teaching, you are helping bridge the research-practice gap by implementing the findings of others. In SoTL, you initiate projects that help you create your own findings, moving from implementation to dissemination. For many faculty, this inquiry step falls outside of their disciplinary comfort zone and may take a new skill set, particularly if your discipline does not use social science research methods.
There are many sources of inspiration that can help you take that first step and move from scholarly teaching into SoTL. Consider the following questions:
- Did you try something in class that went particularly well or flopped?
- Is there a place where students consistently struggle despite your best efforts?
- Have you heard of an interesting teaching approach in another discipline that you might like to try in your own courses?
- Have you heard of a challenge in another discipline similar to a challenge you are also having?
- Did you attend a CITL SoTL speaker that sparked your curiosity?
- Did you read a book on teaching & learning that inspires you to try some of the principles in your own courses?
- Are you looking for ways to document your teaching efforts?
- Do you currently utilize course evaluation data, assignment grades, formative classroom assessments, or your own reflection notes to make improvements to your courses?
Each of these questions may spark a topic for SoTL work. Once you have a topic, the idea simply needs to be formalized into a study utilizing the scientific method. Much of the information we already collect for class purpose can serve as data for our SoTL projects, making the transition from scholarly teacher to SoTL researcher even smoother. Subscribe to the blog to be sure you don’t miss the next blog where I will address potential sources of SoTL data, as well as other great topics in this new series on SoTL. If you would like to talk through a potential SoTL idea, please contact the CITL for an individual consultation.