The Scholarship of Teaching & Learning - a practical introduction and critique
This short introduction to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) by Associate Professor Neil Haigh is published by Ako Aotearoa to encourage practitioners to consider the concept and how it might benefit their learners.
Author: Associate Professor Neil Haigh – Centre for Learning and Teaching, AUT University
About the summary document
As well as describing how SoTL can provide a framework for improving practice, Neil explains the development of the concept and outlines current debate about this form of scholarship and its relationship to pedagogical research.
SoTL is also examined in the context of current government and institutional policy and, in particular, its relationship with evaluative quality assurance and the performance-based research fund.
The term, 'scholarship of teaching and learning' and its acronym SoTL have become familiar to many tertiary teachers. They are increasingly likely to encounter the term when they read literature and other resources on tertiary learning and teaching, and participate in professional development programmes. Their encounters are often the by-product of the efforts of professional development staff to prompt their colleagues to view teaching as a scholarly activity and to encourage them to engage in scholarship in relation to their teaching. So, what does it mean to engage in the scholarship of teaching and learning?
The first person to use the term scholarship of teaching was Ernest Boyer, a leading U.S. educator whose views have been very influential internationally. Boyer used the term when he advocated that:
The time has come to move beyond the tired old teaching versus research debate and give the familiar and honorable term scholarship a broader and more capacious meaning, one that brings legitimacy to the full scope of academic work. (Boyer, 1990, p.16)
By associating scholarship with teaching, Boyer sought to change conceptions of teaching and thereby the perceived value of teaching. He also offered a framework for thinking about the opportunities to enhance teaching practice through scholarship. Anyone seeking to improve the professional status of tertiary teaching needs to engage with Boyer’s views about the scholarship of teaching and learning. As the next section shows, these views are not uncontested; the concept is still evolving – in some ways it would be of concern if it were not.