Value of SoTL

The following module discusses the benefits, rewards, and challenges of conducting SoTL research.

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the benefits and rewards of SoTL research
  • Describe the challenges associated with conducting SoTL research


What is the value and purpose of the scholarship of teaching and learning? The primary purpose is to improve teaching and student learning. Faculty have an obligation to examine their role as an educator and utilize their experience in their discipline to provide evidence regarding best teaching practices and how to improve student outcomes. SoTL can be considered a source of faculty development both to those that practice SoTL and to those interested in the findings. Therefore, SoTL can be considered a specialized kind of research with the potential for broad application to educators and implications for scholarly teaching. For this reason, SoTL research is considered functional in that the teaching strategies that are studied can be implemented and serve a practical purpose. Following is a list of examples of the benefits of faculty engaging in SoTL research and obtaining meaningful, evidence-based results:

  • Better student outcomes and higher test scores
  • Faculty development opportunities
  • Increases reflection on teaching and learning by the faculty member and other colleagues
  • Promotes new networks among faculty members
  • May provide research opportunities for students
  • Creates a stronger overall faculty that values teaching and student learning
  • Provides useful data for assessments, programs reviews, and accreditation processes
  • Provides scholarship opportunity in the form of presentations and publications for faculty
  • May be useful in bringing in outside funds or strengthening internal budget requests
  • Renews faculty excitement about teaching and makes them more aware of how they teach

While those in higher education generally understand the value of SoTL, many feel that reward for SoTL research is lacking and there is some resistance to its acceptance as scholarly productivity. This may in part be due to a lack of institutional recognition or support. As a result, faculty may be reluctant and may have concerns about engaging in this research. Some of their concerns include:

  • SoTL may not considered real research or scholarship or that it is perceived to be of poor quality
  • SoTL will take away from their “real” research that may be institutional expected in their discipline
  • It will not be respected by peers and administrators
  • That they will not be able to receive adequate funding
  • Traditional research in the discipline may still be required                                                                                        

As SoTL gains nationwide recognition and momentum, the benefits to faculty, students, programs, and higher education in general will become more widely recognized and will hopefully lead to improvement in the areas of faculty reward and recognition. The following YouTube video, Making a Case for SoTL, discusses the value and purpose of SoTL and why institutions should support faculty engaging in SoTL research.


Suggested Readings

Atkinson, M. P. (2001). The scholarship of teaching and learning: Reconceptualizing scholarship and transforming the academy. Social Forces, 79(4), 1217-1229.
Gilpin, L. S., & Liston, D. (2009). Transformative education in the scholarship of teaching and learning: An analysis of SoTL literature. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 3(2), 11.
Hatch, T. (2005). Into the Classroom: Developing the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Jossey-Bass, An Imprint of Wiley. 10475 Crosspoint Blvd, Indianapolis, IN 46256.
Huber, M. T., & Morreale, S. P. (2002). Disciplinary Styles in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Exploring Common Ground. AAHE Publications Orders, PO Box 1932, Merrifield, VA 22116-1932.
Hutchings, P., Huber, M. T., & Ciccone, A. (2011). The scholarship of teaching and learning reconsidered: Institutional integration and impact (Vol. 21). John Wiley & Sons.
Hutchings, P. (2002). Ethics of Inquiry: Issues in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Carnegie Publications, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 555 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025.
Hutchings, P., & Shulman, L. S. (1999). The scholarship of teaching: New elaborations, new developments. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 31(5), 10-15.
Poole, G. D. (2007). Using the scholarship of teaching and learning at disciplinary, national and institutional levels to strategically improve the quality of post-secondary education. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 1(2), 3.
McKinney, K. (2010). Enhancing learning through the scholarship of teaching and learning: The challenges and joys of juggling (Vol. 139). John Wiley & Sons.

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