Written by: Nicola Simmons, Brock University
The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) focuses on improving student learning through scholarly inquiry into teaching and learning practices. Scholars of teaching and learning come from all disciplines and often bring their disciplinary lenses to studying these processes. (For a wonderful overview about SoTL, please see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvDKHHyx7YY)
These postsecondary practitioners and researchers are not always familiar with the research literature about learning and may have no point of entry for their investigations (Weimer, 2010). A frequent challenge is finding ‘point of entry’ literature around a particular topic that will provide a starting point for further inquiry. In addition, it can be challenging to grasp the ongoing scholarly debates in literature with which one is not yet familiar. Further, as Christensen Hughes and Mighty (2010) note, “researchers have discovered much about teaching and learning in higher education, but … dissemination and uptake of this information have been limited. As such, the impact of educational research on faculty-teaching practice and the student-learning experience has been negligible” (p. 4). Disseminating teaching and learning research in ways that connect it to practice continues to be a challenge (Poole, 2009).
These assertions are supported by my own experiences: For many years I worked with faculty members on their SoTL projects, and now work with both colleagues and graduate students. These consultations made me realize that finding point-of-entry literature in a field not one’s own is both difficult and daunting.
The release of a new open-access website – https://researchsotl.wordpress.com/ – aims to address that challenge. The website compiles key literature on SoTL topics to support postsecondary scholars and students from across all disciplines to improve their practice or conduct research pertaining to these topics. Each entry comprises a topic heading, a brief overview of the topic, and a short list of annotated key literature, highlighting ongoing debates in the literature.
A SoTL resources page provides a number of websites, books, articles, and videos that provide excellent background for those engaging in SoTL. While both they and the annotations are geared towards those entering SoTL, feedback thus far has suggested that SoTL scholars at any stage will find the site a useful place to begin or extend their literature searches.
Want to get involved?
The website is a work in progress (you will see a limited number of entries have been completed – though a team of dedicated graduate students is working on more as I write). I invite you to not only use it, but to consider whether:
- You could contribute an entry or two based on your work in progress
- You could ask a graduate pedagogy class to contribute annotations for a class assignment
All entries will be attributed to the contributing author. Contact Nicola Simmons at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please see the annotation process tab for further details.
Christensen Hughes, J., & Mighty, J. (2010). Taking stock: Research on teaching and learning in higher education. Kingston, ON: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
Poole, G. (2009). The pursuit of the scholarship of teaching and learning in Canada: Good, but not good enough. Keynote presentation at the Canadian Society for Studies in Higher Education annual conference, Ottawa, Ontario, May 25-27.
Weimer, M. (2008). Positioning scholarly work on teaching and learning. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 2(1).
Nicola was the SoTL Canada Founding Chair and previously served as VP (Canada) for ISSoTL, VP (SoTL) for the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, and Chair of the Canadian Educational Developers Caucus. She is the author of the SoTL annotations website and the editor of a forthcoming special issue of New Directions for Teaching and Learning, “The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Canada: Institutional Impact (release summer 2016).