The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) & Promotions and Tenure
by Jessie L. Moore
Like other types of scholarship, the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) has markers of excellence. In “Principles of Good Practice in SoTL,” Peter Felten (2013) identifies five of those markers:
Working in partnership with students is not yet a widely achieved characteristic of strong SoTL research, but it’s a notable goal, and all five markers are applicable to evaluating scholarship of teaching and learning projects during promotions and tenure reviews.
Going Public with SoTL
SoTL work can appear in a variety of venues. Dan Bernstein advocates making teaching and learning visible through course portfolios, which can be reviewed by institutional peers or external reviewers (see the video below, and Bernstein et al., 2006). Portfolios can include SoTL research, and they are particularly effective for sharing results from pilot studies.
SoTL projects also appear in double-blind, peer reviewed journals. In addition to a number of SoTL-specific journals (e.g., Teaching and Learning Inquiry, International Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Mountain Rise, etc.), dozens of discipline-specific journals focus on student learning research.
SoTL and Teaching
Beyond its role in a faculty member’s research plans, SoTL also can inform scholarly teaching. In a Center for Engaged Learning video, Pat Hutchings advocates for thinking of both scholarly teaching and SoTL as part of a larger whole, with faculty bringing “habits of inquiry, questioning, evidence-gathering to their work as teachers.”
Scholarly teachers apply literature about teaching, learning, and disciplinary knowledge to their classes. By engaging in SoTL in their classes – asking questions about student learning and conducting systematic inquiry to answer them – faculty can make evidence-based decisions about course revisions.
References and Resources
- Bernstein, Daniel, Burnett, Amy Nelson, Goodburn, Amy, & Savory, Paul. (2006). Making teaching and learning visible: Course portfolios and the peer review of teaching. Hoboken, NJ: Jossey-Bass.
- Bernstein, Dan, & Bass, Randy. (July/August 2005). The Scholarship of teaching and learning. Academe, 91(4), 37-43.
- Center for Engaged Learning. (2015). What is SoTL? Studying Engaged Learning. Retrieved from http://www.centerforengagedlearning.org/studying-engaged-learning/.
- Center for Engaged Learning. (2015). Students as partners in SoTL. Studying Engaged Learning. Retrieved from http://www.centerforengagedlearning.org/studying-engaged-learning/students-as-partners-in-sotl/.
- Felten, Peter. (2013). Principles of good practice in SoTL. Teaching and Learning Inquiry, 1(1), 121-125.
Jessie L. Moore (@jessielmoore) is the Associate Director of the Center for Engaged Learning at Elon University and associate professor of Professional Writing & Rhetoric in the Department of English.