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About SoTL

The University of Tennessee emphasizes excellence in teaching, and in support of that commitment, TLI also helps faculty and graduate students advance higher-education-focused scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL).  In addition to supporting the use of innovative and evidence-based teaching practices, we want to encourage rigorous inquiry into the effectiveness of innovative approaches to teaching, and the nature of the teaching and learning experience at UT.

If you have questions about any aspect of this initiative, or if you would like to know more about how you can get involved, please feel free to email Chris Kilgore (

TLI’s Support for SoTL 

TLI aims to strategically support the growth of SoTL projects and research on our campus by offering the following programs:

  • Faculty Support Network on SoTL: This network is a distribution list designed to bring together those who are interested in collaborating, contributing to, supporting, or studying higher-education-focused SoTL efforts at UT. Visit the FSN webpage to sign up to join the network!
  • SoTL Workshops: TLI often offers SoTL-focused workshops. See the workshops page for more information.
  • SoTL Consultations: TLI staff members are available to provide assistance with preparing for SoTL work, on a case by case basis. You can make an individual service request or if you are a department administrator with a unit-wide project, a department-level request.
  • SoTL Incubator: This program supports UT faculty who are interested in initiating a SoTL project. It features logistical support in the form of structured meetings for every step in the planning and implementation process and assistance in conducting literature reviews, preparing appropriate evaluation methods, and carrying out data collection activities. Visit the SoTL Incubator page to learn more.
  • SoTL Funding Support: This program supports UT faculty in beginning to work on SoTL projects.  It provides a small stipend to fund the creation of a written document (a narrative reflection, a review of the literature, or a plan for action). Visit the SoTL Funding Support page for more information.

TLI’s SoTL Philosophy 

Our philosophy on SoTL is shaped by the available research and our commitment to student success and excellence in teaching. Broadly speaking, we consider SoTL to include: 

  • Intentional reflection.  SoTL begins with adopting a critical reflective stance toward teaching, in all its complexity.  In addition to evaluating new practices (see below), SoTL must also include studying instructor and student dispositions and attitudes toward teaching and learning, and the sociocultural forces shaping higher education today. 
  • Gauging the conversation.  As outlined by Boyer (1990), and elaborated by many others since, SoTL regards teaching itself as a scholarly activity, and assumes that new studies can add to the available evidence-base.  As such, it asks that we subject the existing evidence to critical review, gauging where the conversation stands, and what arguments we can advance, before positioning our work to add new contributions. 
  • Rigorous design.  SoTL has experienced a period of explosive growth since the 1990s, and today’s expectations for effective and rigorous research design continue to rise.  We aim to meet that challenge and help our faculty and students design effective studies. 
  • Contributing to the evidence base.  SoTL does not only involve studying teaching practices to improve one’s own work—it assumes that faculty and graduate students will use their findings to contribute to the evidence base, making their findings available for others across the university and academia through journal article publications and conference presentations, as well as other modes of dissemination. 

The following resources are intended to help those interested in initiating SoTL work, either as a part of TLI’s support or on your own.

Preparing for SoTL Work:  UT subject librarian Grace Therrell has helped us collect and curate an array of resources in a SoTL Subject Guide to help guide you through the initial planning and preparation process.

Reviewing the Literature: In addition to assistance available via TLI, UT subject librarians are available to assist you in locating the sources and methods you may need.

Choosing Methods: TLI has a variety of resources related to classroom assessment methods, which may be useful as you design your study.

Preparing for IRB Application: If you plan to conduct research in the classroom, in addition to assistance available via TLI, the UT Institutional Review Board’s coordinators are available to discuss your project and point you to useful resources.

Preparing for Publication & Presentation: At various points in the SoTL process, you may want to consider where you plan to place your article. There are several comprehensive guides to academic journals and conferences that accept SoTL work:

  • Placing Academic Journal Articles: Kennesaw State hosts the Teaching Journals Directory, which allows users to select topics within higher education and disciplines, if desired.
  • Placing Academic Journal Articles: JournalGuide allows users to search by journal name, publisher, or category, or lets users add a manuscript title and abstract and allow the system to match journal possibilities.
  • Locating Conferences: Kennesaw State hosts the Teaching Conferences Directory, which allows users to sort listings by location and discipline.


Boyer, E. (1990). Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate. Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.