Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

Resources pertaining to the scholarship of teaching and learning.

What is the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning?

The Scholarship of Teaching was first articulated as a distinct field of academic inquiry in 1990 by Ernest L. Boyer in his work, Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. Boyer identified four types of scholarship including the "scholarship of teaching", which he argued deserved equal value and recognition alongside the “scholarship of discovery” (ie. disciplinary research). Shortly thereafter, “learning” was added to create the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in order to emphasize the importance of not only research into teaching but the learning experiences of students. 

We might define SoTL as,  

“the systematic study of teaching and learning, using established or validated criteria of scholarship, to understand how teaching (beliefs, behaviours, attitudes, and values) can maximize learning, and/or develop a more accurate understanding of learning, resulting in products that are publicly shared for critique and use by an appropriate community” (Potter and Kustra, 2011). 

Taxonomy of Questions: 

There are many different kind of SoTL research questions and projects, many of which can be categorized using Pat Hutchings’ Taxonomy of Questions as articulated in the introduction to Opening Lines (2000): 

What works?: Inquiry into how and why certain teaching practices are successful. 

What is?: Descriptive research into what you see in your classroom related to student learning, a problem related to teaching, how a particular pedagogical practices plays out etc... 

Visions of the Possible: Research into potentially innovative practices in teaching and learning. 

Formulating New Conceptual Frameworks: The development of theories and concepts to guide and understand teaching and learning. 

Principles of Good Practice in SoTL: 

Peter Felten (2013) identified five "principles of good practice" in SoTL work. He proposed that SoTL scholarship should be: 

  1. Based on Inquiry into student learning 

  1. Rooted in one’s local teaching and learning context 

  1. Methodologically sound (although methodologies will vary) 

  1. Undertaken through a partnership with students 

  1. Made public 

If you are working on a SoTL project, this research guide will help you navigate the resources and databases that are integral to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Please reach out to the Education Developer (SoTL coordinator) with the Centre for Teaching and Learning for more information or to talk about your SoTL interests 

Education Developer, SoTL Coordinator

Devon Stillwell,


Research Guide Credits

This Research Guide was created as a collaboration between the Centre for Teaching and Learning and the Trent University Library. The guide was overseen by James Watson, with content produced by Devon Stillwell.