The University of Tennessee emphasizes excellence in teaching, and in support of that commitment, TLI is launching a new initiative to encourage and support faculty and graduate student work on 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Check out our Faculty Support Network page to learn more on collaborative opportunities for SoTL.
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.
TLI’s Support for SoTL
TLI aims to strategically support the growth of SoTL projects and research on our campus in three ways, all of which are currently under development:
- Faculty Support Network on SoTL (now launching): During the fall 2020 semester, we are launching a Faculty Support Network, 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. If you are interested in helping shape the SoTL support initiative, click here, and then fill out the form and select SoTL to join the network!
- Online Resources (in preparation): In addition to connecting faculty through our SoTL Faculty Support Network (see above), we are developing online resources to help faculty and graduate students prepare for and initiate SoTL projects in higher education. More information will be posted here soon!
- SoTL Consultations: TLI staff members are available to provide direct logistical support for some SoTL projects led by UT faculty, including offering assistance with the research process, and specific steps up to the point of submitting for publication. If you would like to get involved, the first step is to sign up for the Faculty Support Network on SoTL! (See above).
Boyer, E. (1990). Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate. Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.