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Diagram of SoTL in Action - three concentric circles: smallest = Student-centered Instruction; middle=reflective teaching practice; outer/largest= Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is a growing field of academic inquiry focused on how post-secondary students learn. Boyer (1990) introduced the concept of SoTL in his seminal work, Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate [PDF]. Boyer’s model of rigorous, scholarly, and evidence-based study of student learning in one’s own course, with improvement of student learning and/or teaching practice as its ultimate goal, resonated with both faculty and administrators, leading others to further define and articulate this area of interdisciplinary scholarship. Hutchins and Shulman (1999) argued that SoTL is much more than the pursuit of excellence in one’s own teaching practice:

[SoTL] requires a kind of "going meta," in which faculty frame and systematically investigate questions related to student learning—the conditions under which it occurs, what it looks like, how to deepen it, and so forth—and do so with an eye not only to improving their own classroom but to advancing practice beyond it.

McKinney (2006) described the potential of SoTL to have “impact beyond a single course, program, or institution– advancing the field of teaching and learning to build collective knowledge and ongoing improvement,” noting the importance of public sharing and review of such work through presentations, performance, or publications and commitment to disciplinary and/or interdisciplinary peer-review and appropriate public dissemination.


Principles of Good Practice in SoTL


Felten (2013) identified five principles of significant SoTL work:

  1. Inquiry into student learning
  2. Grounded in context
  3. Methodologically sound
  4.  Conducted in partnership with students
  5. Appropriately public


Investigating how—and under what conditions—students learn can lead to the development of innovative teaching practices and significant learning gains.  SoTL’s focus on improving outcomes for students aligns with the Completion goal in the Success by Design framework.

NKU’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) supports SoTL in multiple ways.  CTL hosts Educator Learning Communities (ELCs), which provide opportunities for faculty to reflect on teaching and engage in scholarly investigations of their teaching practice.  Faculty are invited to visit the CTL to browse SoTL resources, learn how to get started with a SoTL project, or receive peer feedback on a manuscript in progress.

Interested in SoTL? 

The resources below will help you get started!  Contact Ellen Maddin at for more information about the SoTL ELC starting fall 2019.