Scholarship of Teaching & Learning
Instructors conduct a research study to answer questions about student learning in their course/program and share the findings via conferences or publications.
Commonly referred to by its acronym, SoTL, the scholarship of teaching and learning aims to improve student learning by discovering better ways to teach. Using rigorous qualitative and quantitative methods, instructors ask questions about teaching approaches and activities and collect evidence about their effectiveness. By sharing findings via conferences and publications, they contribute to the learning and teaching knowledge base, allowing other instructors and scholars to benefit from them.
Definitions of SoTL and its scope vary, extending from research projects on individual classrooms to cross-campus collaborations. There is also some overlap between SoTL and other forms of disciplinary scholarship on learning and teaching such as Disciplinary Based Education Research (DBER) and Scholarship of Educational Development (SoED). At its heart, SoTL provides instructors with the opportunity to reflect on their teaching and their students’ learning in a deep, sustained way. They become more familiar with the literature on teaching in their discipline and methods for assessing learning and gathering evidence of efficacy. Conducting SoTL research can enhance instructors’ teaching skills, strengthen their sense of satisfaction with teaching, and contribute to departmental efforts related to assessment and accreditation.
At the Searle Center, we support instructors at all career stages who would like to engage in SoTL by conducting research on learning and teaching in their own classrooms, programs, or departments. We work with instructors to develop research questions, select research methods, collect and analyze data, and write publishable manuscripts and conference abstracts. We are particularly interested in working with instructors who would like to address research questions related to equity and inclusion.
Our programs offer the Northwestern community a variety of ways to develop teaching skills, enhance student learning, and find community. The following programs will spark your curiosity about SoTL.
SOTL at Northwestern
A program to introduce Northwestern faculty to SOTL and support them in designing and conducting a SOTL study.
Learning & Teaching Guides
Guides created by or in collaboration with the Searle Center to help educators engage and advance Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.
Check back for forthcoming guides.
In Our Library
A curated list of recommended books related to SoTL available at the Menges Library, located in the Searle Center.
Campus Progress: Supporting the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
Classroom Research: Implementing the Scholarship of Teaching
Disciplinary Styles in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning : Exploring Common Ground
Evaluating Teaching and Learning: A Practical Handbook for Colleges, Universities and the Scholarship of Teaching
Learning Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty
The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Reconsidered: Institutional Integration and Impact
Our current recommendations for both foundational and leading-edge content related to SoTL.
Articles on what SOTL is and how to begin.
What is SoTL? From the Institute for the Scholarship of Learning and Teaching at the University of British Columbia
- What is SoTL? From the University of British Columbia
- Why Do SoTL? From Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching
- SoTL vs Scholarly Teaching from the Center for Engaged Learning at Elon University
- Principles of Good Practice in SoTL by Peter Felton
- Elon University’s Center for Engaged Learning Guide to SoTL
Podcasts about SOTL
Professional Societies for SOTL
Published SOTL Papers by Northwestern Instructors and Searle Center Staff
- Kolikant, Yifat Ben-David, Denise Drane, and Susanna Calkins. “‘Clickers’ as Catalysts for Transformation of Teachers.” College Teaching 58, no. 4 (2010): 127–35. https://www.jstor.org.
- Chou, Karen., Moaveni, Saaed., & Drane, Denise. “Virtual steel connection sculpture: Learning assessment.” Journal of STEM Education: Innovations and Research 17, no. 3 (2016): 5-13.
- Cook, Rifka., & Calkins, Susanna. “More than recall and opinion: Using clickers to promote complex thinking.” Journal of Excellence in College Teaching 24, no. 2 (2013): 51-76.
- Mordacq, John., Drane, Denise., Swarat, Su., & Lo, Stanley. “Development of course-based undergraduate research experiences using a design-based approach.” Journal of College Science Teaching, 46, no. 4, (2017): 64-75.
Awards & Grants
Northwestern University recognizes educators and researchers doing innovative work. The following list includes opportunities which we believe dovetail with work related to SoTL.
Calendar of Events
Below are all of our upcoming events related to scholarship of teaching and learning
Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.