Research Teaching & Learning

Identifying a teaching “problem” or question

In a classic article about the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (SoTL), Randy Bass (1999) argues that we should think of our teaching more like our research, as full of interesting intellectual problems to be solved. He asks, “How might we think of teaching practice, and the evidence of student learning, as problems to be investigated, analyzed, represented, and debated?”

You may decide to research teaching or student learning by simply gathering more information from students about their study habits or by analyzing existing student performance on assignments, or you may choose to design a more systematic scholarship of teaching and learning project to share with a wider audience (see the Center for Engaged Learning’s discussion of SoTL vs. Scholarly Teaching for more on the distinction between scholarly teaching and SoTL). Whatever your goal, CATL can provide support and resources for scholarly approaches to teaching and learning.

Developing a SoTL Project

As you plan to develop a SoTL project, you will be asking and answering some of the following:

  • What student learning or teaching “problem” do you want to investigate or explore? What do you want to know? What is already known about this topic?
  • What evidence do you need to answer this question? From whom? What do you already have, and what do you need to collect? Can you partner with students to gather it?

To help you develop your project, as you define your research question, consider what evidence to gather or analyze, or, even, ways to partner with colleagues or students to do so, you may find the following resources helpful. You can:

Going public

Find a Teaching Conference Locate potential SoTL and Higher Ed journals

References & Resources

Bass, Randy. (1999) The Scholarship of Teaching: What’s the Problem? inventio, 1(1).

Bishop-Clark, Cathy, & Dietz-Uhler, Beth. (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.

Felten, Peter (2013) “Principles of Good Practice in SoTL.” Teaching & Learning Inquiry: The ISSOTL Journal, Vol. 1:1. pp. 121-125

Gurung, Regan, & Schwartz, Beth. (2008). Optimizing Teaching and Learning: Practicing Pedagogical Research. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Healy, R, T. Bass, J. Caulfield, A. Hoffman, M.K. McGinn, J. Miller-Youn, M. Haigh (2013). “Being Ethically Minded: Practising the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in an Ethical Manner.” Teaching & Learning Inquiry: The ISSOTL Journal 1:2, 23-32

Hutchings, Pat, Huber, Mary, & Ciccone, Anthony. (2011) The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Reconsidered. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

McKinney, Kathleen. (2007) Enhancing Learning through the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: The Challenges and Joys of Juggling. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

McKinney, Kathleen. Ed. (2012). The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in and across the Disciplines. Bloomington: Indiana UP.