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