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Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in STEM
Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in STEM

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1.1 Distinguishing SoTL from scholarly teaching

SoTL and scholarly teaching, although closely related, are activities that differ in intent and outcome.

Scholarly educators’ teaching is informed by the latest developments in their disciplines and also by research about pedagogical design and how students learn, either in general or in a discipline-specific way. Based on their scholarly pursuits, educators design the curriculum and assessment.

When educators do more than drawing on disciplinary and pedagogical underpinnings for scholarly teaching or carrying out self-reflection of their academic practices but seek to contribute to the knowledge base by carrying out research on the impact of their teaching interventions on student learning, then they are engaging in SoTL.

Scholarly teaching tends to be focused on effective teaching rather than on student learning. It may lead to presentations or publications, but these are based on individual reflection. SoTL is driven by the aim to understand how students learn effectively and how teaching influences this process. One of the essential differences between scholarly teaching and SoTL is the wider implications and possible impact of a SoTL inquiry (Geertsema, 2016; Gayle, 2018).

Deciding to use an online microscope to examine and explore minerals and microscopic features of rocks in the Earth Sciences curriculum is an example of ‘scholarly’ teaching. The educator’s aim is to broaden access to rock collections that are held in museums, universities and other institutions around the world.

If the educator of the Earth Sciences module conducts a systematic inquiry to determine the impact the use of virtual microscope has had on students’ learning of rocks and geology, and disseminates the outcomes for peer-review and uptake, then it is a SoTL inquiry.

Although all educators should strive for scholarly teaching, not all will engage with SoTL.

Activity 2 SoTL vs. scholarly teaching

Timing: Allow approximately 5 minutes

Watch the following Center for Engaged Learning video from start to 01:55, and consider the question: What is the distinction between SoTL and scholarly teaching?.

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Video 2 SoTL vs. Scholarly Teaching
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Scholarship of Teaching and Learning vs. Scholarly Teaching [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] video by Center for Engaged Learning, Elon University, licenses/ by-nc-nd/ 4.0/

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Scholarly teaching is informed by SoTL (consumption) while SoTL involves production of scholarship (research-led knowledge base) that a scholarly teacher consumes/uses.