Skip to Main Content

Scholarship of Teaching & Learning

This guide was adapted with permission from a Dalhousie University Centre for Learning and Teaching site. It is a collection of resources related to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) in general.

What is SoTL?

SoTL is the systematic inquiry by faculty to understand and/or improve their students learning and teaching practices, and the dissemination of the findings to contribute to the knowledge and practices of other faculty.  SoTL is informed by relevant research on teaching and learning and faculty member's disciplinary and research expertise. - adapted from the SoTL Guide of the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning (University of Calgary) and the Sheridan College SoTL guide.

SoTL: Key characteristics

Video: Center for Engaged Learning at Elon University

Defining SoTL

How is SoTL different from educational research? Both fields are concerned with how students learn and how their learning can be improved. The key difference between SoTL and other research in higher education is who performs the research. In SoTL, the researcher is the instructor, and the classroom is the site of inquiry. In other educational research, the researcher is someone other than the instructor.

How is SoTL different from assessment of teaching? The main differences are in the purpose and the intended audience. Both SoTL and teaching assessment are concerned with determining the effectiveness of teaching practices. The assessment of teaching can be for the purpose of institutional reporting, departmental evaluation and development of teaching practices, and/or career advancement. The audience for assessment of teaching projects tends to be internal - the institution, department, or individual instructor. The purpose of SoTL is to increase knowledge of teaching and learning, and improve student learning. The audience for SoTL can be internal to the institution but it typically is the wider scholarship community (public) that the findings are shared with. SoTL research is intended for dissemination to interested readers who can learn from and build upon previous SoTL research. 

How is SoTL disseminated? SoTL research findings can be shared informally or formally in a variety of ways including workshops (departmental, institutional, guest speaker), conference presentations and proceedings, website and blog posts, podcast, journal publications, and book publications.

- adapted from N. Chick, M. MacMillan, C. Bradley (2017)


Taxonomy of SoTL questions

Video: Center for Engaged Learning at Elon University

This guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License. You may copy the guide as long as credit is included. Please be aware that many of our guides contain links to subscription-based services for which access is restricted to authorized users. Library licensed resources (such as journal articles or ebooks) are not permitted to be uploaded to third-party platforms, including generative AI tools, like MS CoPilot or ChatGPT. Consult the licenses and terms of use for each resource.