Defining a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at UW-Whitewater

During spring term 2003, a group of approximately 20 faculty-with representation from each of the four colleges, met for a series of four campus dialogues to discuss how a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) could be made a more manifest part of professional life for faculty and instructional staff. Among the outcomes of those meetings was this definition:

 Scholarship of Teaching and Learning project at UW-Whitewater:

  • begins with the identification of a problem to solve or goal to accomplish that focuses on an issue (or issues) that advances understanding (and dialogue) about teaching and learning;
  • reflects an awareness of and, preferably, builds upon existing literature relevant to the issue (or issues);
  • involves, typically, the skillful collection and interpretation of data using methods appropriate to the problem or goal driving the project;
  • includes a level of analysis, reflection, and/or understanding that identifies worthy ideas/conclusions that stand to be of value to other instructors; and
  • is shared publicly and reviewed by peers in venues ranging from small/informal (e.g., dialogues with colleagues) to larger/formal (e.g., publication).

From those dialogues also came an emergent and lingering question ... Does the venue in which such a project is shared, and the timing and nature of the peer review, distinguish if the project served more of a "teaching-improvement function" for an individual or small group of instructors, or more of a "knowledge-building/extending" function relevant to a larger audience? That is, should a department/campus consider a SoTL project "scholarship" per se if it is not in some way peer-reviewed (in a gate-keeping way) before being shared publicly? Department are encouraged to explore: Based on the grid below, is there a worthy line to be drawn somewhere that distinguishes between "teaching improvement project" and "scholarship of teaching and learning project"? If so, where should that line be drawn?


Project Reviewed As Condition of Presentation

A diagram of projects shared at Conferences, in Publication, in Workshops, and on Websites

Project Reviewed During or After Presentation