Working on Your SoTL Project

Working on Your SoTL Project

This module provides a discussion of issues that should be considered when beginning a SoTL project.

Learning Objectives

  • Explain the value of collaborations when conducting SoTL research
  • Describe how involving students can be valuable to a SoTL project
  • Discuss strategies for incorporating SoTL with other professional responsibilities
  • Discuss potential ways to pursue grant funding and other resources


Once the research topic and question have been developed, there are several issues that should be addressed and considered before beginning to design the project and the methodology. Some of those issues include whether or not to pursue potential collaborations with other faculty and/or students, how the SoTL project can be incorporated into other research and professional obligations, funding sources and the need for other resources. These issues will be covered briefly in this module and additional information can be obtained in the Resource Links at the right of this page.

Collaborations are valuable and may be critical to the success of any research, including SoTL projects. These collaborations may occur with other faculty and colleagues, or perhaps with students that become involved with the project. Professional collaborations with faculty offer an opportunity for networking and the sharing of expertise and ideas. These faculty may be helpful in brainstorming, refining the question, reviewing drafts, consulting, analyzing data and statistics, gathering data, interpreting data and in the publishing process. All assistance and collaborative efforts must be acknowledged in the manner most appropriate, perhaps as a thank you, co-authorship, compensation, or some other means.

Collaborations involving students may take many different forms. Obviously, students are at the heart of many SoTL projects as research subjects or participants. However, students can also serve a valuable role as co-researchers and research assistants. The student perspective can greatly impact a SoTL study and may assist in interpreting the results. Student involvement may also be viewed as positive when applying for funding. Following are some ways students may be involved and be of value in a SoTL project:

  • Assisting with literature reviews
  • Assisting with data input
  • Gathering data through use of interviews, questionnaires, etc.
  • Piloting materials
  • Recruiting research subjects
  • Assisting with data analysis and interpretation

In addition to potential collaborations, faculty pursuing SoTL projects must also consider how to incorporate the project into their other academic responsibilities and discipline-specific research. The other expectations placed on faculty deter many from pursuing SoTL projects because it may be viewed as something “extra”. However, faculty should be encouraged and supported to be creative in finding ways to integrate their SoTL projects into their professional workloads. Faculty may consider some of the following approaches:

  • Tying current discipline-specific research to a SoTL topic of interest
  • Look for campus initiatives or priorities that relate to your SoTL project for support and funding
  • Work with your campus teaching center to develop support, find collaborators, and look for potential funding
  • Explore SoTL projects that relate to something that is already part of what you do, such as researching the impact of the Socratic Method on student learning if that is an approach you are already using
  • Examine the committees you serve on and any institutional service you are already doing to see if there is a potential SoTL project that could be developed
  • Connect a SoTL project to your current departmental assessment plan
  • Write a request for reassigned faculty time or a sabbatical based on a SoTL proposal

While many SoTL projects can be done without extensive resources and funding, the potential need for funding must also be addressed early in the planning stages to allow sufficient time to identify, apply for, and secure the funds needed. The following YouTube video, Grant Writing 101, offers an introduction into how to successfully write grants. This may be an important component for development of your SoTL project. Check with your institution to see if there are specific internal grant opportunities available for SoTL projects. There also may be grants available from associations within your discipline. An online search will be helpful in identifying other funding sources for your particular SoTL area of interest.

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.
Hubball, H., & Clarke, A. (2010). Diverse methodological approaches and considerations for SoTL in higher education. The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 1(1), 2.
Hubball, H., Clarke, A., & Poole, G. (2010). Ten‐year reflections on mentoring SoTL research in a research‐intensive university. International Journal for Academic Development, 15(2), 117-129.
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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