by Jessie L. Moore
Although the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) crosses disciplines, one tension in SoTL centers around what counts as SoTL, particularly in terms of methods and methodologies. Although some SoTL questions may merit social science methods, as Pat Hutchings suggests, SoTL should draw from faculty members’ “habits and values and methods of their own disciplines.”
What do the “habits and values and methods” of the Arts and Humanities look like when applied to SoTL? In August 2014, the Center hosted a think tank that explored this question, and in the video below, Nancy Chick (Vanderbilt University), Sherry Linkon (Georgetown University), Karen Manarin (Mount Royal University), Kathleen Perkins (Columbia College-Chicago), and Brad Wuetherick (Dalhousie University) describe arts and humanities approaches to SoTL.

As these SoTL scholars reiterate, SoTL projects from the Arts and Humanities add value to broader understandings of student learning by using the methods and methodologies that Arts and Humanities scholars know best. These projects should reflect the “habits and values” of the scholars’ home disciplines, and the methods that Arts and Humanities scholars are most comfortable employing can extend scholarly understandings about student learning.
Arts and Humanities methods can include close reading and textual analysis – of students’ texts, of students’ own reflections, and of students’ process documents. They also can be blended with other methods – including those traditionally associated with social sciences – to enrich the scholar’s narrative about student learning.
Stephen Bloch-Schulman (Elon University), for instance, describes collaborating with students and colleagues on an exploration of the number of women in philosophy.  Their project includes a literature review, focus groups, and surveys (steps and methods common in social science SoTL projects), but as Stephen describes in the video below, they also are bringing philosophical thinking (e.g., Philosophy’s “habits and values”) to their collection and examination of data.

Nancy Chick (Vanderbilt University) shares an example of a SoTL project in literary studies that examined students’ close readings and literary analyses. With colleagues, she drew on disciplinary research methods to do a textual analysis of students’ interpretations of literary texts and identified patterns in students’ processes and learning.

Finally, Karen Manarin (Mount Royal University) describes her inquiry into undergraduate research in English. To better understand students’ experience with undergraduate research, she analyzed students’ coursework and conducted semi-structured interviews – demonstrating a mix of what scholars might traditionally identify as humanities methods and social sciences methods.

To explore more examples of Arts and Humanities SoTL projects, visit the annotated bibliography maintained by the ISSOTL Arts & Humanities Interest Group.

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.

How to cite this post:

Moore, Jessie L. 2015, January 6. SoTL in the Arts & Humanities. [Blog Post]. Retrieved from