Center for Teaching and Learning

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) where to start

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is a perspective that instructors can use to approach their teaching as a form of scholarly work. Eileen Bender and Donald Grey (1999) describe the scholarship of teaching in this way:

“… the scholarship of teaching is not merely teaching our scholarship. Nor is it simply teaching well. …The scholarship of teaching means that we invest in our teaching the intellectual powers we practice in our research…”  (emphasis added)

Pat Hutching and Lee Shulman (1999) also argue that SoTL is more than simply teaching well and that it leads to particular kinds of outcomes:

“… public, open to critique and evaluation and in a form that others can build on … in which faculty frame and systematically investigate questions related to student learning — the conditions under which it occurs, what it looks like, how to deepen it and so forth — and do so with an eye not only to improving their own classroom but to advancing practice beyond it.”   (emphasis added)

The information on this page has been collected for UW instructors to learn more about how to engage in SoTL in their own classes.

How do I begin?

Efforts to improve teaching and learning have prompted a wide range of challenging questions. How does active learning in large classes influence students’ comprehension of the lecture? Does online discussion improve students’ understanding of reading materials? What do writing assignments contribute to student learning?

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) addresses questions such as these by systematically examining student learning. What has been discovered by others who have addressed this question? How can I identify answers to this question through my own teaching? How can answers that emerge contribute to the work of a broader community of scholars?

Once you have a question about student learning in mind, the next step is to determine how to address this question systematically through your teaching: The following set of guiding questions is designed to help you think through the process of systematically examining teaching and learning issues in your classroom:


  • What have others done to address similar questions in their teaching?
  • What assignments, activities or other features of your course can help address your question?


  • What indicators of student learning will be relevant for addressing your question? How can you systematically examine these learning indicators?
  • How will you make sense of the student learning that you observe? How have others examined similar evidence of student learning?

Making it public

  • Who can provide an informed review or critique of your observations?
  • How can you make your work available for others to adapt or extend?

Options for making work public include developing course portfolios for others to review, presenting at campus forums or conferences, and writing for publication.

For examples of UW faculty and TAs who are engaged in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, see UW’s Teaching & Learning Symposium.

How can CTL help?

CTL can assist by consulting on:

  • Formulating learning goals, research questions and plans for collecting evidence in a course.
  • Developing documentation procedures, consent forms or other supporting materials.
  • Interpreting data and implications for your teaching.
  • Identifying others who might want to collaborate with you and extend your work beyond your particular course.

To schedule a meeting with a CTL consultant, call 206-543-6588, or contact us by email to arrange an appointment.