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Scholarship of Teaching & Learning

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"Scholarly teaching is what every one of us should be engaged in everyday that we are in a classroom, in our office with students, tutoring, lecturing, conducting discussions, all the roles we play pedagogically. Our work as teachers should meet the highest standards of groundedness, of openness, of clarity and complexity. But, it is only when we step back and reflect systematically on the teaching we have done, and that systematic analysis and reflection leads to a recounting of what we've done, in a form that can be publicly reviewed and built upon by our peers, that we have moved from scholarly teaching to the scholarship of teaching."

Lee Shulman, President, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Learning (

What is the difference between scholarly teaching and the scholarship of teaching?

Scholarly teaching involves using best practices in teaching, informed by research on teaching and learning (evidence based approaches);

Scholarship of teaching involves (sharing, presentations, publications, reflection and revision)

- Posing a problem about an issue of teaching and learning
- Reviewing ways that others have approached this problem (literature review)
- Hypothesizing about a potential solution to the problem
- Devising an appropriate method to implement the proposed solution
- Evaluating the results
- Communicating the results
- Self-reflection
- Peer-review

Research for scholarship and publication: Ethical approval required

Research/feedback for the purposes of improvement of studies and programs.

See Article 2.5 Tri-council agreement: "Quality assurance and quality improvement studies, program evaluation activities, and performance reviews, or testing within normal educational requirements when used exclusively for assessment, management or improvement purposes, do not constitute research for the purposes of this Policy, and do not fall within the scope of the REB." 


Resources to Get Started

  • Interested in Educational Research? See Queen University's Centre for Teaching & Learning's practical guide. 
  • Understand SoTL: Taylor Institute for Teaching & Learning, University of Calgary's guide.
  • Doing SoTL Ethically: Taylor Institute for Teaching & Learning, University of Calgary's guide. 
  • Pitfalls & Practices for Teaching Inquiry: ISTLD, Simon Fraser University's handout.


Sample Projects

Why measure learning impact? 

- To determine whether a pedagogical intervention has influenced student learning as intended
- To monitor progress and change to enhance student learning
- To provide empirical data to support the pedagogical viability of the learning/teaching method
- To determine whether a pedagogical intervention has influenced student learning as intended
- To monitor progress and change to enhance student learning
- To provide empirical data to support the pedagogical viability of the learning/teaching method

When might this be important?

- As part of a scholarly approach to teaching – ongoing revision and course/ programme review
- Projects/grants applications and reporting to show:

  1. Does this project/instructional strategy promote active learning-centred teaching?li>
  2. Does this project/instructional strategy lead to significant improvements in quality or outcomes of student learning?
  3. How might the approach to this subject be improved?

To measure impact, we need to know:

- What are the objectives/expected outcomes of the intervention?
- What are the indicators of success?
- How can these be observed/measured?
- What is the baseline (what was happening before the intervention) against which changes can be judged?

Measuring Impact

Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
Reaction Knowledge & Skills
Behaviour Performance Competence
How did it feel? Did they like it? Do they think it made a difference? What can they do that they couldn’t do before, or do better than they could do before? What do they do now that they didn’t do before? Has their performance improved  as a result of increased learning?

Example of Indicators

Student Feedback - Perceived usefulness and benefits
- Self report on motivation, engagement, and study approaches
- Self-reported learning gains
Instructor Feedback

- Observed changes in students' motivation, engagement and study behaviour
- Teachers' reflections, etc. 

Classroom Observations - Nature/amount of classroom interactions
- Students' engagement and participation
- Other classroom study behaviours
Student Performance - Assessment grade/marks
- Quality of student work
- Performance in practice settings

How do we know our course design works?

What was the effect of an experience on learners (learning impact)?

- Knowledge (e.g. know what, know how, know why)
- Skills (e.g. cognitive, metacognitive, social & psychomotor)
- Attitude (e.g. beliefs, disposition & values) 

Content credit: D. Salter Menzo