What is SoTL?
“The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning is the academic examination by tertiary educators in various subject fields of their own teaching practice and/or students’ learning in an institutional context through academic investigation and systematic reflection, with the intention of making insights and results open to an interested public, thus promoting discussion and an open exchange of experiences” (loosely translated from Huber et.al. 2014, S.7).
Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) was developed in the Anglo-American higher education system and firmly established itself in the Anglo-American tertiary context with the founding of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (ISSOTL) in 2004. A corresponding movement has become visible in European educational scholarship as well, which is forwarding SoTL in various countries, similar to the promotion of teaching portfolios (Lehrportfolios).
The University of Paderborn is also participating in this movement – especially through the work of the Higher Education Development Unit (HEDU) for Innovation in Education and University Didactics – and offers educators in all disciplines the possibility of developing and reflecting on their teaching practice and its effects on student learning, based on evidential support, through the guiding framework of SoTL. This is done by establishing concrete research questions, examining the literature on the topic, collecting a variety of relevant data of all types, and at last evaluating that data based on academic guidelines (NHHLA1.10). Educators are free to use the typical research methodologies native to their fields for this process.
The publication of the results provide an important component of the procedure, in order to make the insights gleaned available to other educators and the community – especially to other educators of the same subject. In particular, making these results visible elevates the practice of “scholarly teaching” to “Scholarship of Teaching and Learning”.
An SoTL researcher has the possibility of publishing his/her teaching experiences and formalizing his/her insights, thereby making them available to other educators in the same or related/comparable disciplines. Beyond that, the researcher has the chance to analyze educational research in his/her discipline intensively, fostering a deeper insight into and closer integration of this field in his/her own subject. Not least, this process contributes to the professionalization of the instructor’s own teaching, which has been shown to expand the boundaries of both scientific and academic experience.
In the course of the certification program “Professional Teaching Competency for Higher Education” in Paderborn, educators complete the third module through SoTL.
Research in the program is focused on evaluations of innovative teaching and learning approaches used in the participant’s own classes at the University of Paderborn. Within the framework of SoTL, “Teaching and Learning” is understood to be a broad field, meaning that not only innovative teaching and learning approaches, but also innovating testing, evaluation, and feedback, or design of program modules or courses of study may be taken into account.
In accordance with the motto “shift from teaching to learning” (cf. Barr & Tagg, 1995), student learning and the development of student competences lies at the heart of these approaches. A particular feature of these efforts is the consideration of the predominant framework of teaching and learning at the University of Paderborn. Further, SoTL creates the option of trading information with colleagues about differences between and individual peculiarities of various subjects, leading to (further) development of subject-specific didactic approaches for higher education.
The program is intended in particular for teaching staff and/or any university employees otherwise involved in academics and academic structure at the University of Paderborn. The target groups for the resulting academic contributions are, in addition to the above-mentioned, all educators and students of the same disciplines at other universities or institute of higher education.
The offering is open to all employees and professors at the University of Paderborn and is embedded in Module 3 of the professional development certification program ““Professional Teaching Competency for Higher Education”. Interested educators outside the program are also invited to contact the team at the HEDU for Innovation in Education and University Didactics.
Barr, R. & Tagg, J., (1995) From Teaching to Learning: A New Paradigm for Undergraduate Education. Change 26(6), 12-25.
Huber, L., Pilniok, A., Sethe, R., Szczyrba, B. and Vogel, M.P. (Hrsg.). (2014). Forschendes Lehren im eigenen Fach: Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Beispielen. Bielefeld: Bertelsmann.
Braukmann, J., Bücker, D., Kordts-Freudinger, R., Schulte R. & Velibeyoglu, N., (2018). Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) als Bestandteil hochschuldidaktischer Zertifikatsprogramme am Beispiel der Universität Paderborn. Neues Handbuch Hochschullehre 3811707, A1.10. Last access from: www.nhhl-bibliothek.de/api-v1/article/!/action/getPdfOfArticle/articleID/1180/productID/10