What is the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning? with Mary Huber

What is the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning? with Mary Huber

First in a three-part series:  Mary Huber, Ph.D., introduces us to SoTL, the scholarship of teaching and learning, its motivation and history. 

We are posting this work, "What is the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning?" as a series of blog posts with permission from the original author.

About Mary Huber

Mary Taylor Huber is senior scholar emerita and consulting scholar the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and serves as a content specialist to Stanford's CTL on the scholarship of teaching and learning.  Since joining the Carnegie Foundation in 1985, Huber has directed projects on Cultures of Teaching in Higher Education; led Carnegie’s roles in the Integrative Learning Project and the U.S. Professors of the Year Award; and worked closely with the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CASTL). She speaks, consults, and writes on the scholarship of teaching and learning, integrative learning, and faculty roles and rewards.

Part I: What is the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning?

“…to improve as teachers, faculty need reliable information about how well students are learning in their classes. They also benefit from opportunities to collaborate and to learn from professional colleagues” (The Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford University, 2012, p. 86).

“Ultimately, investigative work into teaching and learning will not be an intriguing aside, or add-on, but an essential facet of good teaching—built into the expected repertoire of scholarly practice” (Shulman, 2000, p. 105).

The scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) is an approach to college and university teaching that views classrooms (and other learning spaces) as sites for inquiry, innovation, and knowledge-building.  

In SoTL, you, the educator, look closely and critically at your students’ learning to improve your own courses and programs. You also go public with insights, experiences and results that colleagues can evaluate and build on.

By doing SoTL, you advance the profession of teaching in higher education by joining  pedagogical conversations in and across institutions and fields.

Why Engage in SoTL?

This is an extraordinary time for teaching and learning in higher education.  On the one hand, there’s been bad news about “limited learning” in college from the large longitudinal studies conducted by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa (2011) and by the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education (Pascarella, Blaich, Marin, and Hanson, 2011). On the other hand, new approaches to creating more engaging learning environments are exciting. New developments in technology have gained attention most recently, but other pedagogies and programs encouraging more active and collaborative learning have also invited experimentation and show promise (see Kuh, Kinzie, Schuh, and White, 2005). 

People in virtually every discipline are paying more attention to undergraduate education. And, while some differ within and among these communities, they all agree that they should base pedagogical innovation on deep understanding of, and evidence about, student learning. 

Educators interested in teaching practices and their relation to student learning are making lessons from the learning sciences more accessible, formally evaluating various teaching techniques, and doing robust and rigorous inquiry—often called “the scholarship of teaching and learning” or “SoTL.” 

History

Introduced into the vocabulary of higher education as “the scholarship of teaching,” in Scholarship Reconsidered by Ernest L. Boyer (1990), the idea gained attention for giving college and university teaching a place within a broader vision of scholarship that also included the discovery, integration, and application of knowledge.

In later years, under the guidance of Stanford Professor Emeritus Lee Shulman, who succeeded Boyer as President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching,  the work became more widely known as “the scholarship of teaching and learning” (See Shulman, 2004, 2011).

Since then, the term has been widely adopted in higher education both in the US and internationally (at least in Anglophone countries) to refer to an inquiry-driven approach to teaching in which educators look carefully and critically at their students’ learning, use the results to improve their teaching, and share what they have found with their colleagues in their institutions and fields.

SoTL has become a valuable addition to the wider “teaching commons,” defined as “an emergent conceptual space for exchange and community among faculty, students, and all others committed to learning as an essential activity of life in contemporary democratic society” (Huber and Hutchings, 2005, p.1). This larger commons includes as well the work of researchers in education and the learning sciences, scholars engaged in discipline-based education research (National Research Council, 2012), professional development staff, and public policy experts, to name a few.

SoTL brings the experience of students and faculty into this larger conversation, giving practitioners a seat at the table and enabling them to speak with a voice that can be heard (Huber and Hutchings, 2005; Hutchings, Huber, and Ciccone, 2011).

 

Next up:  Doing SoTL.   Read the full text of Mary’s paper “What is the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning?”, which includes an extensive list of resources.

Mary Huber is Senior Scholar Emerita and Consulting Scholar at The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  Involved in research at the Carnegie Foundation since 1985, Huber has directed projects on Cultures of Teaching in Higher Education; led Carnegie’s roles in the Integrative Learning Project and the U.S. Professors of the Year Award; and worked closely with the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CASTL). She speaks, consults, and writes on the scholarship of teaching and learning, integrative learning, and faculty roles and rewards.

References Cited

Arum, R., and Roksa, J. 2011. Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.  Preview of first two chapters available at:  http://www.amazon.com/Academically-Adrift-Limited-Learning-Campuses/dp/0226028569

Bernstein, D., and Bass, R. 2005. The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Academe 91(4): 37-43.  Available through Academe’s J-Stor site: http://www.stanford.edu/dept/undergrad/sues/SUES_Report.pdf

Boyer, E. 1990. Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. Princeton, NJ: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. PDF available at: http://www.hadinur.com/paper/BoyerScholarshipReconsidered.pdf

Huber, M., and Hutchings, P. 2005. The Advancement of Learning: Building the Teaching Commons. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. PDF of first chapter available at: http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/publications/advancement-learning-building-teaching-commons

Hutchings, P. 2000. “Approaching the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.” Introduction to P. Hutchings (ed.). Opening Lines: Approaches to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Menlo Park, CA: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. PDF available at:  http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/publications/opening-lines-approaches-scholarship-teaching-and-learning

Hutchings, P, ed.. 2002. Ethics of Inquiry: Issues in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Menlo Park, CA: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. PDF of Foreword available at:  http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/publications/ethics-inquiry-issues-scholarship-teaching-and-learning

Hutchings, P., Huber, M., and Ciccone, A. 2011. The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Reconsidered: Institutional Integration and Impact.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. PDF of first chapter available at: http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/publications/the-scholarship-teaching-and-learning-reconsidered-institutional-integration-and-impact

Indiana University’s History Learning Project. http://www.iub.edu/~hlp/

Linkon, S. L. 2011. Literary Learning: Teaching the English Major. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

National Research Council. 2012. Discipline-Based Education Research: Understanding and Improving Learning in Undergraduate Science and Engineering. Singer, S.R., Nielsen, N.R., and Schweingruber, H.A. (Eds). Committee on the Status, Contributions, and Future Direction of Discipline-Based Education Research. Board on Science Education. Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. PDF can be downloaded free at: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13362

Pace, D., and Middendorf, J. 2004. Decoding the Disciplines: Helping Students Learn Disciplinary Ways of Thinking. (New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 98). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Summary available at History Learning Project site: http://www.iub.edu/~hlp/ Full PDF available at: http://www.iub.edu/~tchsotl/part3/Decoding Middendorf.pdf

Pascarella, E., Blaich, C. , Marin, G.L., and Hanson, J. M. 2011. “How Robust are the Findings of Academically Adrift?” Change 43 (3): pp. 20-24. Abstract available at: http://www.changemag.org/Archives/Back%20Issues/2011/May-June%202011/academically-adrift-abstract.html Full PDF available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00091383.2011.568898

Salvatori, M. R., and Donahue, P. 2004. The Elements (and Pleasures) of Difficulty. New York: Pearson/Longman.

Shulman, L. S. 2000. “Inventing the Future.” Conclusion to P. Hutchings (ed.), Opening Lines: Approaches to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Menlo Park, CA: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. PDF available at: http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/publications/opening-lines-approaches-scholarship-teaching-and-learning

Shulman, L.S. 2004. Teaching as Community Property: Essays on Higher Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Introduction available at: http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/publications/teaching-community-property-essays-higher-education

Shulman, L. S. 2011. “The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: A Personal Account and Reflection.” IJSOTL (International Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) 5 (1). http://academics.georgiasouthern.edu/ijsotl/v5n1/featured_essay/PDFs/_Shulman.pdf

Stanford University. 2012. The Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford University. Stanford, CA: Stanford University. http://www.stanford.edu/dept/undergrad/sues/SUES_Report.pdf

Werder, C., and Otis, M. M. 2010. Engaging Student Voices in the Study of Teaching and Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Comments

Mary Huber's essay is terrific. I t makes clear that those who engage in the scholarship of teaching and learning can, in the process, become wiser and more reflective teachers as they share with others their scholarly insights about teaching and learning.

CTL just posted Part 2 in this series, which gives an outline of how to conduct SoTL in your classroom. Enjoy!