Practicing the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

What is the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)?

“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.” (Bender and Grey)

Efforts to improve teaching and learning have prompted a wide range of challenging questions. For example, 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 in a course?

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?

From this perspective, teaching can be approached as a form of scholarly work, providing a setting 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.” (Hutchings and Shulman).

Where do I begin?

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.

How can CTL help?

We 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.

Where can I publish or present my SoTL projects?



 How are UW instructors engaging in SoTL?

At the UW, instructors are engaging in SoTL as a way to address questions they might have about a particular method, approach, or strategy related to student learning.

  • Annual UW Teaching and Learning Symposium (takes place each Spring):
    The Symposium brings together UW faculty, staff, and students from all three UW campuses to build conversation and community around teaching, learning, and related research; highlight research and practices that advance student learning; and spark and sustain interest in the SoTL at UW. The Symposium includes poster sessions and keynote panels and speakers. For more information contact
  • Biology Education Research Group (BERG):
    Several faculty in the department of Biology founded the Biology Education Research Group (BERG) in 2005 to conduct research on classroom teaching methods and efficacy. Their mission is to improve students’ comprehension of course material, thereby enabling them to earn better grades. BERG Learning Community (BERG-LC) meets weekly.
  • Consortium to Promote Reflection in Engineering Education (CPREE).
    CPREE’s goal is to improve engineering teaching across a wide range of student populations by targeting an essential but frequently neglected component for effective learning: reflection.  CPREE is funded by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and engages engineering faculty from UW and 11 partner campuses around the country.
  • Office for the Advancement of Engineering Teaching & Learning (ET&L)
    Faculty and graduate students working with the ET&L are engaged in a number of research projects examining how students best learn engineering. ET&L also provides services for the College of Engineering faculty members and teaching assistants to support them in their teaching.
  • Physics Education Research Group
    The Physics Education Group at the University of Washington conducts a coordinated program of research, curriculum development and instruction to improve student learning in physics and physical science from kindergarten through graduate school.  The work of the group is guided by ongoing discipline-based research. 

If you would like us to list your program on this page please send a link and short blurb to