The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

What is SoTL?

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) describes research in which we systematically assess our teaching practices. As faculty we are constantly assessing our teaching from semester to semester to make decisions about what worked well and what did not. SoTL includes formalizing this process and sharing it with others, the same way research is conducted in all disciplines.

Do I need IRB approval?

Like all human subjects research, SoTL requires you to be mindful about the ethics of your study. When the research subjects include your own students, there are many variables to consider that are not present in other research studies. For example, students may feel coerced to allow you to use their work for your study, regardless of a promise that participation is voluntary and will not affect their grade. This pressure can be mitigated and CTRL, as well as the American University Institutional Review Board are here to help.

How do I get started?

First, take a look at the existing SoTL research. Like all sciences, SoTL has a large database you can use to explore the field and build your literature review. The resources on this page include samples of peer reviewed SoTL articles and journals that publish SoTL research. CTRL is here to support your engagement in this research. Please feel free to email us at or complete our Qualtrics form to request a consultation.

CTRL Support for SoTL

The CTRL Faculty Fellows Program includes support for SoTL Faculty Fellows. In developing their research project, the SoTL Faculty Fellow will work closely with the CTRL Pedagogy Research Team.

The Milton and Sonia Greenberg Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award recognizes faculty who have made a significant contribution to research-based analyses of teaching practices or of curricular design. Nominations may be made by any member of the AU faculty. Self-nominations are welcome.

Peer Reviewed SoTL Articles

Lucas, K. Chinese graduate student understandings and struggles with critical thinking: A narrative case study. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 13(1).

Medley-Rath, S. Faking sociology?: A content analysis of an introductory sociology student photography assignment. Teaching & Learning Inquiry, 7(1), 18-33.

Shiely, F. & McCarthy, M. The effect of small group tutors on student engagement in the computer laboratory lecture. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 19(2),141-171.