What is SoTL?

There is an emerging interest in Canadian universities to move towards evidenced-based teaching practices (MacLean & Poole, 2010), that is, consulting the literature on teaching and learning to make informed decisions about teaching and engaging in some level of classroom research to uncover how students learn best. While most professors reflect on their practices as a way to guide their teaching, a smaller number of faculty engage in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) and its systematic inquiry into how to maximize student learning through effective teaching.

At its foundation, the scholarship of teaching and learning is “the process of exploring, researching, developing, refining, reflecting upon, and communicating better ways and means of producing, promoting, and enhancing scholarly learning and teaching” (Healy et al. 2013: 24). ‘Going public’ is the key factor that distinguishes SoTL from scholarly teaching (Vajoczki et al. 2011). Being systematic in how to go about observing learning, gathering evidence of it and disseminating findings in peer-reviewed venues is another important characteristic of SoTL research.

Hence we share with Potter and Kustra (2011:2) the view that SoTL is “[t]he systematic study of teaching and learning, using established or validated criteria of scholarship, to understand how teaching (beliefs, behaviours, attitudes and values) can maximize learning, and/or develop a more accurate understanding of learning, resulting in products that are publicly shared for critique and use by an appropriate community.”