About SoTL

Under the Learning, Teaching and Scholarship Guidance the Vice Principal for Learning and Teaching Professor Moira Fischbacher-Smith explains some of the characteristics of SoTL that feed into the promotion process.*


“The normal expectation of candidates applying for promotion on the LT&S track would be that their output is increasingly characterised by scholarship, i.e. work that relates to the study and practice of learning and teaching within an HE setting.” 

(Source: Guidance Information)*

Scholarship of Learning and Teaching

“Scholarship of learning and teaching [that] can include disciplinary research where the research demonstrably influences pedagogy and assessment design.” 

(Source: Promotion criteria)*

SoTL can be:

  1. collecting data, analysing and publishing it
    1. keep in mind it is not considered SoTL if it is not made public
    2. publication can take different forms: from blog posts to journal papers
  2. writing a reflective practice piece

There is much debate around defining the Scholarship of Learning and Teaching, and no theoretical framework or conceptualisation has yet managed to emerge as one that finds sector-wide agreement. Although, some ‘how to’ processes or models are widely used. It incorporates a wide range of activities from writing reflective practice papers, literature reviews and theorizing conceptual papers (which are simply scholarship), to evaluations of teaching interventions, or full scale inter-institutional or international projects (which is SoTL). The complexity of undertaking any form of educational inquiry, or educational research, has led to the development to a multitude of sub-disciplines.

This multi-disciplinary approach to scholarship, allows educators to design allows educators to design enquiries specific to their disciplinary contexts and philosophical stances. Learning and Teaching are complex processes, drawing from multiple disciplines, such as education, psychology, neuro- and cognition sciences, sociology, even philosophy, and this is not an exhaustive list.

However, as the presentation indicates there are some defining characteristics such as being public, open to peer review (feedback), and becoming part of the knowledge base–wider discourse–in higher education, others can build on (Schulman and Hutchings, 1999 & Richlin, 2001). Being public does not only refer to peer-reviewed journals but also includes other publications of international standing; external policy and professional reports; monographs; text books; book contributions; professional guidance on learning and teaching (such as QAA, Advance HE reports/guidance); dictionaries, scholarly editions; catalogues; contributions to major databases; or other corpora of knowledge (Source: Promotion criteria).

To ensure high quality SoTL projects, that not only inform our own learning and teaching practice but also have sector-wide value, necessitates some rigour:

  • All projects collecting data from staff or students need ethical approval
  • Avoid jumping straight from your research questions or hypothesis to data collection methods (e.g.: questionnaire, focus groups, interviews)
  • All projects need methodological considerations!

For more please look at the section: How to SoTL?