The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is a growing movement in post-secondary education. SOTL necessarily builds on many past traditions in higher education, including classroom and program assessment, K-12 action research, the reflective practice movement, peer review of teaching, traditional educational research, and faculty development efforts to enhance teaching and learning. SOTL scholars come from various backgrounds, such as those in educational psychology and other education related fields, as well as specialists in various disciplines who are interested in improving teaching and learning in their respective fields. Some scholars are educational researchers or consultants affiliated with teaching and learning centers at universities. Inquiry methods in SoTL include reflection and analysis, interviews and focus groups, questionnaires and surveys, content analysis of text, secondary analysis of existing data, quasi-experiments, observational research, and case studies. The findings of SoTL research projects are peer reviewed and publicly disseminated to advance the practice of teaching and knowledge in the researchers’ respective fields.
Because SoTL involves research on student learning, it falls into the category of human subjects research. Therefore, the ethical principles of human subjects research apply to scholars completing SoTL projects. When reviewing research on teaching and learning, the IRB distinguishes between activities that are part of “normal educational practices” and research beyond such a scope. Ask yourself these questions:
When applying for IRB approval, make sure to distinguish which project activities are normal educational practices, and which are research activities. Remember that these aspects of human subjects research are applicable: