Assessing and Researching your Teaching

Almost all successful academics give credit to creative teachers—those mentors who defined their work so compellingly that it became, for them, a lifetime challenge. Without the teaching function, the continuity of knowledge will be broken and the store of human knowledge dangerously diminished.
Boyer, 1990, p.24

As scholars, faculty have innate curiosity about the world in which we live. The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) presents an opportunity to apply your research disposition toward inquiry on your teaching efforts, to highlight or improve pedagogical practices that influence how students learn. SoTL is succinctly defined by the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning as the “systematic reflection on teaching and learning made public” (Illinois State University, 2011).

Unlike the typical process of reflection and modification that you might undertake as a part of your regular teaching, there are a few defining features of SoTL projects:

  • There is a research question about a specific aspect of your teaching
  • The focus of the question is on exploring the relationship between a pedagogical practice and student learning -- the question is learning-centered
  • The question determines the method, and is often an adaptation of a methodology or pedagogical assessment practice already common to your field

Sheridan staff members have backgrounds in educational research that inform our consultations with faculty on how to conduct SoTL in their classrooms. To connect with an appropriate staff member, please contact: [email protected]

Brown University Libraries – in partnership with the Sheridan Center – are maintaining a list of SoTL journals. Sheridan staff may also be able to recommend a sample article for you to read as it relates to your own topic.

Examples of recent SoTL articles by Brown University faculty (links to articles require Brown login):

Lockhart, B. J., Capurso, N. A., Chase, I., Arbuckle, M. R., Travis, M. J., Eisen, J., & Ross, D. A. (2017). The use of a small private online course to allow educators to share teaching resources across diverse sites: the future of psychiatric case conferences? Academic Psychiatry, 41(1), 81-85.

Aluisio, A. R., Daniel, P., Grock, A., & Freedman, J. (2016). Case-based learning outperformed simulation exercises in disaster preparedness education among nursing trainees in India: A randomized controlled trial. Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, 31(5), 516-523.

Welch, L. & Fasano, C. (2016). Interdisciplinary teaching of visual perception through art and science. Leonardo, 49(3), 220-242.

Rand, D., Yennie, C. J., Lynch, P., Lowry, G., Budarz, J., Zhu, W., & Wang, L. –Q. (2016). Development and implementation of a simple, engaging acid rain neutralization experiment and corresponding animated instructional video for introductory chemistry students. Journal of Chemical Education, 93(4), 722-728.

Hoshi, S. (2015). Beyond classroom discourse: Learning as participation in native speaker-learner and learner-learner interactions. Foreign Language Annals, 48(4), 755-770.