Does engagement in the scholarship of teaching and learning really improve teaching and student learning?

The scholarship of teaching and learning combines the experience of teaching, the scholarship of research, and the dissemination of this knowledge such that the broader academic community can benefit from this scholarly product.  SoTL has been touted as one of the primary methods to increase the quality and value of teaching in higher education.  But, does engagement in the scholarship of teaching and learning really translate into better teaching practices and improved student learning?  Brew and Ginns (2008: 33, 535-545) assessed this very question in a recent article published in Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education. They examined how SoTL initiatives at the University of Sydney impacted teaching and student learning.  The authors measured the association between faculty engagement in SoTL (measured using a Scholarship Index) and the change in undergraduate responses to the Faculties’ Student Course Experience Questionnaire.  The results suggest that engagement in SoTL did in fact improve teaching and student learning, specifically for 5 scales on the questionnaire: Good Teaching, Clear Goals and Standards, Appropriate Assessment, Generic Skills and Overall Satisfaction with Degree Quality.  Although further research is needed to examine which specific SoTL initiatives are most effective in improving teaching and student learning, and how these may vary across disciplines and individuals, these results provide some indication that SoTL may effectively enhance and advance the profession of teaching in higher education.

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  1. #1 by Peter Wolf on August 5, 2010 - 9:45 am

    This is great news! I think that we need more of this kind of research to uncover what types of SOTL improve teaching and student learning.

    Thanks for this Tash!

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