SoTL 101: Re-cap

[prezi id=”hmnfmx6agoz9″]
Prezi: Stetson SoTL Workshop Series
SoTL101 Handout (pdf)

“The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning is the systematic inquiry of student learning using appropriate methodology – informed by prior scholarship – and going public with the results.” ~ Elon Center for Engaged Learning

On January 12, 2017 the Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence hosted the first of a four-part workshop series designed to guide Stetson faculty through the process of designing and implementing a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning project.


What distinguishes SoTL from good teaching?  According to Principles of Good SoTL Practice (Felton, 2013), SoTL is …

  • inquiry focused on student learning
  • grounded in context
  • methodologically sound
  • conducted in partnership with students
  • appropriately public


Dr. Peter Felten, Elon University
Assistant Provost, Executive Director of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching & Learning & Center for Engaged Learning at Elon University

After an ice-breaker (and some technological challenges), Dr. Peter Felten facilitated a discussion about Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). He first defined SoTL and pointed to Principles of Good SoTL Practice (Felten, 2013). He then identified as a “new” field of research and framed it in the context of “new” as a historian and that a recent flurry of activity around SoTL provides great examples of disciplinary sources and interdisciplinary works in the field.

SoTL is anchored in Boyer’s model of Scholarship

Specifically mentioned ..

  • Science/Engineering: National Research Council. (2012). Discipline-based education research: Understanding and improving learning in undergraduate science and engineering. National Academies Press.
  • History: Kelly, T. Mills. Teaching history in the digital age. University of Michigan Press, 2013.
  • Hutchings, P., Huber, M. T., & Ciccone, A. (2011). The scholarship of teaching and learning reconsidered: Institutional integration and impact (Vol. 21). John Wiley & Sons.
  • International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (ISSOTL)

SoTL at Elon University

Dr. Felten then provided a brief history of Elon University evolution and learning around SoTL. Like Stetson, Elon faculty and staff were spending a lot of time thinking about good teaching and learning. Faculty at Elon have large teaching loads but were not engaging their efforts and what they were learning about learning into scholarly endeavor. After 10 years of faculty development around SoTL, over 100 peer reviewed publications in all disciplinary areas has resulted. As a result, building community around SoTL is critically important and the Stetson participants in the workshop should identify as pioneers of this work. Peter suggested the following approaches to SoTL:

  • Capitalize and take advantage of disciplinary research skill and methodologies – as this is natural way to conduct the new SoTL work
  • Think broadly about the methodology
    • For example, 2016 Teaching & Learning Inquiry paper – Arts & Humanities Methods (Felten)
    • Frame the question to justify the methodology for smaller numbers of students or human subjects.

Where Researchers Get Stuck

Dr. Felten offered several places where scholars get stuck in the process of making their daily grind scholarly. He identified the primary locus as the “disconnect” between broad questions about student learning and evidence or opportunities/ambitions for the questions that tend to be “small”. He suggested that scholars

  • use the strategies from their professional research to make generalizations
  • focus on “what is” research versus “is the better than this or that” research where the essence of the work is the “thick description” of context to make the work “unique”.

He gave examples of work at Elon. One example was a research study on why specific student demographics were not participating in high impact practices? A total pf 75 juniors/seniors were interviewed and during the process, faculty noted that student interviewers where achieving different outcomes than they were from the interview so the modified the process to only student interviewers. Desiree Porter is a student is co-author of the resulting publication in Change Magazine.

The difference between Discipline and Disciplinary: A response to the Value of SoTL as Scholarship

In response to the general question on how SoTL is valued at different campuses, Felten offered the following questions:

  • What is possible in terms of scholarly endeavor at a university like Stetson?
  • What is important?
  • What is possible in the framing of our T&P guidelines?
  • Have serious faculty conversations occurred about what matters, what counts, and what does not count as scholarship?

Felten noted that it is the responsibility of faculty to distinguish between what is good and bad scholarship and that the conversation about what faculty value as scholarship must be contextualized to Stetson University.


The audience submitted questions for Peter …

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Works mentioned

  • Bass, R., & Linkon, S. L. (2008). On the evidence of theory: Close reading as a disciplinary model for writing about teaching and learning. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 7(3), 245-261.
  • Wieman, C. E., Rieger, G. W., & Heiner, C. E. (2014). Physics exams that promote collaborative learning. The Physics Teacher, 52(1), 51-53.
  • Lovett, M. C. (2013). Make Exams Worth More Than the Grade: Using Exam Wrappers to Promote Metacognition. Using Reflection and Metacognition to Improve Student Learning, 18-52.
  • University of Rhode Island collaborative exams in anatomy and biology (citation??)
  • Bunnell, S., Felten, P., Marquis, B., Matthews, K., & Abbott, S. (2016). International student perspectives on The ethics of SoTL research. In International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL).
  • Felten, P., Bagg, J., Bumbry, M., Hill, J., Hornsby, K., Pratt, M., & Weller, S. (2013). A call for expanding inclusive student engagement in SoTL. Teaching and Learning Inquiry: The ISSOTL Journal, 1(2), 63-74.
  • Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M. C., & Norman, M. K. (2010). How learning works: Seven research-based principles for smart teaching. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Project to be published summer 2017 – asking students about ETHICS of SOTL and research interventions

Additional Notes & Advice

  • The Elon Center for Engaged Learning facilitates cross-institutional studies to study a given question across different (or similar) institutional contexts.  Multi-institutional studies tend to involve faculty of the same discipline across institutions.
  • Keep a bright line between grading and research.
  • Don’t punish or reward students for involvement in SoTL research.
  • Involve students in the work.
  • Methods span from qualitative to quantitative to mixed – they often reflect the discipline.

“SoTL is assessment the way faculty want to do it.” ~ Natasha Jankowski, NILOA Case Study

Cruz, L. (2016) Identifies four categories of SoTL in a taxonomy.


SoTL101 Handout (pdf)

  1. After reading a short scenario, small groups worked in teams to revise draft research questions.
  2. A short think-pair-share helped participants to begin to clarify SoTL questions.
  3. A 10-minute free-write was used to generate ideas for a SoTL research question.
  4. Each person spent 2-minutes pitching their question to a partner as an “elevator pitch”


  • Start working on your research question.  As you refine the question, submit it at this link:  You can submit as many times as you like.
  • Find a single SoTL article that is related to your question
  • Reach out to your accountability buddy by Jan 27. 

Join the next workshop “Refining your Question and Literature Review” on Friday, February 3rd, 2-5 pm in Library 25L.

Upcoming workshops

  • Feb 3, 2-5pm: Refining your question & literature review (II)
  • Feb 24, 2-5pm: Choosing your methodology (III)
  • Mar 31, 2-5pm: Resources & planning for dissemination (IV)
  • Apr 7: SoTL Roundtable at the Colloquium on Teaching & Learning Innovation

Literature Resources

Felten, P. (2013). Principles of good practice in SoTL. Teaching and Learning Inquiry: The ISSOTL Journal, 1(1), 121-125. (pdf)

Cruz, L. (2016). The Scholarship of Educational Development: A Taxonomy. To Improve the Academy, 35(2), 222-228.

Bishop-Clark, C., & Dietz-Uhler, B. (2012). Engaging in the scholarship of teaching and learning: A guide to the process, and how to develop a project from start to finish. Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Poole, G. (2013). Square one: What is research? In K. McKinney (Ed.), The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in and Across the Disciplines. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. 135-151.

Bloch-Schulman, S. (2016). A Critique of Methods in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Philosophy. Teaching & Learning Inquiry, 4(1), 1-15.

Other Resources

[Next: Workshop II – Question Refinement & Literature Review]