Title Page


From the Series Editor

About This Publication

About This Volume

Chapter 1: Advancing Scholarly Research on Teaching and Learning

A Little Background

Who Is This Volume For?

An Overview of This Volume


Chapter 2: Using Assessment and SoTL to Enhance Student Learning

SoTL Can Enhance Student Learning

Assessment Can Enhance Student Learning

Coordinating SoTL and Assessment Efforts to Enhance Student Learning

Moving Forward


Chapter 3: Designing SoTL Studies—Part I: Validity

Construct and Internal Validity

Good Measures Lead to High Construct Validity

Good Differences between Conditions Improve Construct Validity

Good Comparisons between Conditions Improve Internal Validity

A Note about External Validity

A Note about Qualitative Studies



Chapter 4: Designing SoTL Studies—Part II: Practicality

Common Practical Problems

Designs for Classroom Studies

More Complex Designs



Chapter 5: Statistical Models for Analyzing Learning Data

Why Do We Need Statistical Analyses Anyway?

Getting Ready to Analyze Data: Data Cleaning and Screening

Creating Summative Variables

Understanding Some Basics of Statistical Analysis

Type I and Type II Errors and Power

Effect Size

Summary of Main Strategies for Analyzing Learning Data


Chapter 6: Navigating the IRB: The Ethics of SoTL

Must I Do This?

Why Must I Do This?

The IRB Process

Levels of Review

Researcher's Rights

Special Issues of Concern with the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

In Conclusion: Some Final Tips


Chapter 7: Tell a Good Story Well: Writing Tips

General Writing Guidelines

Specific Writing Guidelines



Chapter 8: Navigating the Minefields of Publishing

Before You Start Writing

As You Are Writing

After You Have Submitted Your Manuscript

Concluding Thoughts


Chapter 9: Faculty Development Centers and the Role of SoTL

Creating a Campus Where SoTL Counts

Faculty Development Centers: Staff, Structure, and Mission

Disseminating SoTL

How to Use a Teaching Center for SoTL: Creating Faculty Communities of Practice





Cover Page
Title Page


About This Publication

Since 1980, New Directions for Teaching and Learning (NDTL) has brought a unique blend of theory, research, and practice to leaders in postsecondary education. NDTL sourcebooks strive not only for solid substance but also for timeliness, compactness, and accessibility.

The series has four goals: to inform readers about current and future directions in teaching and learning in postsecondary education, to illuminate the context that shapes these new directions, to illustrate these new direction through examples from real settings, and to propose ways in which these new directions can be incorporated into still other settings.

This publication reflects the view that teaching deserves respect as a high form of scholarship. We believe that significant scholarship is conducted not only by researchers who report results of empirical investigations but also by practitioners who share disciplinary reflections about teaching. Contributors to NDTL approach questions of teaching and learning as seriously as they approach substantive questions in their own disciplines, and they deal not only with pedagogical issues but also with the intellectual and social context in which these issues arise. Authors deal on the one hand with theory and research and on the other with practice, and they translate from research and theory to practice and back again.

About This Volume

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is a crucial part of how higher education understands and shares its pedagogy. In theory, SoTL is a part of every faculty member, administrator, and (at least indirectly) student as they participate within their disciplinary courses and majors. SoTL can be a powerful force by bringing new ideas, practices, and findings into the academy and many faculty are involved in this process of scholarship. The authors within this volume point out that SoTL is linked to pedagogy, assessing learning, and faculty development. These chapters provide an empirically based guide to conducting SoTL research, clarify the uses of SoTL, and provide support for those faculty involved in this worthy endeavor. Faculty, department chairs, and administrators will find this volume to be exceedingly useful as a sort of manual on SoTL and will use this information for years to come.

Catherine Wehlburg


This chapter provides a brief history of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), delineates the main audience for this volume, and presents a framework of the volume with a preview of each chapter.

Advancing Scholarly Research on Teaching and Learning

Regan A. R. Gurung, Janie H. Wilson

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is getting popular. There is a brand new journal for it coming out almost every year. Teaching and Learning Inquiry launched in 2013, and SoTL in Psychology starts accepting submissions in 2014 to launch in 2015, joining a host of other journals publishing research on teaching and learning (e.g., Teaching of Psychology and International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning). In The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Reconsidered, Pat Hutchings, Mary Taylor Huber, and Anthony Ciccone (2011) of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching recently showcased how SoTL has been integrated into higher education and impacts teaching and learning.

SoTL should be an integral part of every academic's life, not only representing the pinnacle of effortful teaching but also standing side by side with more conventional disciplinary scholarship. In fact, SoTL “brings powerful new principles and practices” into the debate about key academic questions such as what students need to know and should be able to do (Hutchings, Huber, and Ciccone 2011, 3). As a result of faculty buy-in and an interest in best teaching practices, more scholars are providing tips on how to be a good teacher (e.g., Buskist and Benassi 2012) and how to use empirical evidence to guide pedagogy choices (Schwartz and Gurung 2012). Simultaneously, higher education institutions around the country have increased their focus on assessment, and a number of books provide helpful guides to assessment in the classroom (e.g., Dunn et al. 2011; Suskie 2009). In an almost parallel development, advocates of SoTL note that SoTL is linked to all three areas: conducting SoTL is the hallmark of a good teacher, SoTL helps a teacher pick pedagogy, and SoTL provides the framework for classroom assessment. SoTL is now seen to be critical to assessing learning as well as faculty development (Hutchings, Huber, and Ciccone 2011). Although guides to conducting SoTL are available (e.g., Bishop-Clark and Dietz-Uhler 2012; McKinney 2007; Savory, Burnett, and Goodburn 2007), none of the existing books go beyond basic approaches to classroom research. We conceptualized this volume to build on the existing literature and provide pedagogical researchers with helpful tips in key areas of the scholarly process.

A Little Background

Boyer (1990) popularized the term “scholarship of teaching,” although caring teachers have practiced the kind of work to which this term refers for many years. In more than 20 years following Boyer's work, the term SoTL has been dissected, defined, redefined, and modified (see Smith 2012, for a more detailed history of the evolution of the term). SoTL entails intentional, systematic reflections on teaching and learning resulting in peer-reviewed products made public (Potter and Kustra 2011). This volume brings together experienced practitioners of SoTL and builds on the skills and experiences teachers already have, providing thorough guidelines to help faculty implement and measure systematic changes to teaching and document potential improvements in student learning. Chapters follow the main stages of the research process (e.g., designing a study, measuring outcomes, and analyzing data) and provide exemplars of best practices taken from the published literature. Conceptualized as a catalyst and guide for workshops on SoTL and written for the teacher who wants to formally investigate learning, this volume had its roots in the Society for the Teaching of Psychology's first SoTL research/writing workshop in 2011. Although workshop participants had some experience with SoTL and were passionate teachers, it was clear that no existing resource answered the majority of questions that arose. This exact sentiment was expressed by many attendees at the 2011 International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) Conference. This volume is designed to fill the void and provide a helpful resource for anyone interested in documenting, learning, and systematically improving their teaching.

We provide an up-to-date, empirically based guide to conducting the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Authors elucidate the nuances of conducting SoTL, distinguish this form of research from other forms of scholarship, clarify the utility of SoTL to faculty as well as departments and Universities, and provide a useful aid to many faculty who may have heard of SoTL but have not joined the wave of change. Unlike existing publications, this work includes explicit examples of SoTL, demonstrating a variety of research designs, offering several forms of statistical analyses, and providing exemplars for both novices and experts alike.

Who Is This Volume For?

Those who would find this volume of interest fall into three categories: centers of teaching and learning/faculty development centers, administration such as department chairs, and individual faculty/teachers and researchers in the field of SoTL. Located at most institutions of higher learning, centers of teaching and learning are available to faculty as a resource to continually improve teaching. This volume is the type of resource that could assist center directors when creating teaching workshops and as a resource when working with individual faculty members or graduate students. Finally, we anticipate that this volume would serve as a starting point for those who are new to the classroom and are making decisions regarding useful pedagogy.

Given that documenting teaching using SoTL is also a major improvement over the exclusive use of student evaluations, more departments favor faculty formalizing their assessments using SoTL (Bernstein et al. 2009; Hutchings, Huber, and Ciccone 2011). This volume will likely be a good resource for department chairs who want to foster SoTL but who do not have the resources and the training to do so. In fact, administrators at higher levels may find the volume useful if scholarship in teaching is valued at their institution.

This volume would also be a valuable resource for individual faculty at all levels of education, with particular appeal to community college teachers, four-year college and university professors, and graduate student assistants who teach. It would also be very appropriate for graduate courses on teaching and learning in higher education and can be especially useful reading for new and midlevel faculty. Importantly, this volume would be appropriate to a wide audience given not only its applicability to teachers at different stages of their careers but also due to its cross-discipline appeal. We anticipate that this volume will be a manual for the prospective SoTL scholar. We are grateful to the authors who provide their expertise in this volume and generously help others enjoy the teacher-scholar role.

An Overview of This Volume

Additional guides introduce SoTL (Gurung and Schwartz 2012; McKinney 2007; Savory, Burnett, and Goodburn 2007); however, most of these books provide readers with the basics. This volume not only is accessible to the novice SoTL researcher but also provides readers with challenges that will motivate them to engage in the suggested activities. We include many key features aimed to help both teachers new to research and SoTL and also researchers who may have a long list of scholarly publications in nonpedagogical areas.

Each chapter answers key questions that starting SoTL researchers raise. In Chapter 2, Dickson and Treml bridge the gap between assessment and SoTL. Many instructors who see the value of assessment do not necessarily see assessment as a form of SoTL and often do not publish the fruits of their assessment labors. Conversely, and perhaps somewhat strangely, many SoTL practitioners do not recognize the extent to which their pedagogical research is assessment (Gurung and Landrum 2012). In many ways, Dickson and Treml help set the stage to increase SoTL in this age of assessment-minded expectations in higher education.

In Chapters 3 and 4, Bartsch addresses two major aspects of SoTL research: validity (Chapter 3) and practicality (Chapter 4). SoTL research cannot be conducted in the same way as social-science or natural-science research. The classroom is not a laboratory. By the same token, SoTL needs to live up to standards. Recent publications provide benchmarks for SoTL in psychology (Wilson-Doenges and Gurung 2013) and a universal set of good practices for SoTL (Felten 2013), but trying to satisfy good practices is challenging. Bartsch's chapters help pedagogical researchers navigate this tricky ground, providing different designs for research, ways to counter threats to validity, and methods to conduct practical research ethically.

In Chapter 5, Wilson-Doenges tackles data from approved SoTL research. Of course data require statistical analysis in some form, and the author of this chapter offers many options. Are statistics important to SoTL when faculty from many disciplines are not trained to conduct analyses? Certainly, some SoTL faculty from the humanities and the arts feel pressured to know how to design experiments and conduct statistical analyses (Grauerholz and Main 2013). Wilson-Doenges makes the case for the use of statistics in SoTL and provides some key strategies and techniques. Her approach makes statistics accessible to teacher-scholars across disciplines.

After designing a valid and practical study, the methodology must be reviewed by peers. In Chapter 6, Martin addresses a key area of the SoTL research process: getting approval to conduct SoTL. Every SoTL study should have Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. What are the different types of IRB approval? When do you need each type of approval, and when is traditional informed consent appropriate? Martin unpacks the mystique of the IRB process, including when written consent is needed and more importantly, when it is not needed. Even seasoned researchers may discover hitherto unknown nuances of the process in this engaging exposé of the process.

After study approval, data collection, and data analysis, SoTL researchers must write a manuscript and seek publication. Chapters 7 and 8 focus on these two different processes. Smith (Chapter 7) provides tips on how to write strong academic papers, and Christopher (Chapter 8) provides suggestions on how to increase the likelihood of getting published. Both chapters provide useful and practical guidelines to get your research project from ideas and data to a manuscript ready for review. Chapter authors have served as editors of a SoTL journal and bring their years of experience to bear on the topic of writing.

Finally, in Chapter 9, Schwartz and Haynie address how SoTL can serve as a tool for faculty development with a focus on the role of teaching-and-learning centers on campus. SoTL is difficult to conduct in isolation, and institutional support is crucial. How can a campus or university center help faculty accomplish SoTL? What are key programs that learning centers should provide? The authors answer these questions and many more.

SoTL is now enjoying increased visibility and is relevant to academic life in a number of ways. Not only is there growing evidence that SoTL benefits faculty members as they engage in meaningful scholarship, this type of scholarship is also associated with student learning. We hope the present volume catalyzes more SoTL as we move toward an ever-growing understanding of teaching and learning in academic settings.


Bernstein, D., W. Addison, C. Altman, D. Hollister, K. Meera, L. R. Prieto, C. A. Rocheleau, and C. Shore. 2009. “Toward a Scientist-Educator Model of Teaching Psychology.” In The NCUEP: A Blueprint for the Future, edited by D. Halpern, 29–46. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Bishop-Clark, C., and B. Dietz-Uhler. 2012. Engaging in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: A Guide to the Process and How to Develop a Project from Start to Finish. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Boyer, E. L. 1990. Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Buskist, W., and V. A. Benassi, eds. 2012. Effective College and University Teaching: Strategies and Tactics for the New Professoriate. Los Angeles: Sage.

Dunn, D. S., M. A. McCarthy, S. C. Baker, and J. S. Halonen. 2011. Using Quality Benchmarks for Assessing and Developing Undergraduate Programs. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Felten, P. 2013. “Principles of Good Practice in SoTL.” Teaching and Learning Inquiry 1: 121–126.

Grauerholz, L., and E. Main. 2013. “Fallacies of SoTL: Rethinking How We Conduct Our Research.” In The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in and across the Disciplines, edited by K. McKinney, 152–168. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Gurung, R. A. R., and R. E. Landrum. 2012. “Assessment and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.” In Assessing Teaching and Learning in Psychology: Current and Future Perspectives, edited by D. Dunn, S. C. Baker, C. M. Mehrotra, R. E. Landrum, and M. McCarthy, 159–171. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Gurung, R. A. R., and B. M. Schwartz. 2012. Optimizing Teaching and Learning: Practicing Pedagogical Research. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Hutchings, P., M. T. Huber., and A. Ciccone. 2011. The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Reconsidered: Institutional Impact. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

McKinney, K. 2007. Enhancing Learning through the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Bolton, MA: Anker.

Potter, M. K., and E. Kustra. 2011. “The Relationship between Scholarly Teaching and SoTL: Models, Distinctions, and Clarifications.” International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 5. Retrieved from

Savory, P., A. N. Burnett, and A. Goodburn. 2007. Inquiry into the College Classroom: A Journey towards Scholarly Teaching. Bolton, MA: Anker.

Schwartz, B. M., and R. A. R. Gurung. 2012. Evidence-Based Teaching in Higher Education. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Smith, R. A. 2012. “Benefits of Using SoTL in Picking and Choosing Pedagogy.” In Evidence-Based Teaching for Higher Education, edited by B. M. Schwartz and R. A. R. Gurung, 7–22. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Suskie, L. 2009. Assessing Student Learning: A Common Sense Guide, 2nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Wiley.

Wilson-Doenges, G., and R. A. R. Gurung. 2013. “Benchmarks for Scholarly Investigations of Teaching and Learning.” Australian Journal of Psychology, 65 (1): 63–70. doi:10.1111/ajpy.12011.

REGAN A. R. GURUNG is associated with the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay.

JANIE H. WILSON is associated with Georgia Southern University.