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

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2.2 The impact of SoTL on the practitioner

SoTL has a direct impact on the practice of an educator. SoTL brings the researcher mindset into teaching and provides the educator with research language and methodology for reflection and evidence-based exploration for improving student learning (Shaffer et al., 2019).

Weston and McAlpine (2001) proposed a three-phase continuum of growth and development of a SoTL practitioner.

  1. Growth in one’s own teaching, when educators begin to see teaching and reflective practice as an essential and engaging aspect of their role, rather than an interference with their disciplinary research.
  2. Growth in dialogue with others about teaching and learning in the discipline, which helps to create communities of educators who share their teaching experiences in their discipline. Educators are able to integrate knowledge of the subject matter with their knowledge of how to teach it. They start recognising the value of reflective academic practice and take increasing responsibility for enhancing the value of teaching within their departments and faculties.
  3. Growth in SoTL implies developing scholarly knowledge with substantial impact in both the disciplinary and institutional settings. In this phase, educators share their expertise and knowledge gained via SoTL to make an impact within the institution and the discipline.

This three-phase continuum reflects the growing maturity of a SoTL researcher and also the positioning and impact of SoTL within an institution. Although educators may move through this continuum of development on their own, support through mentoring, training, workload planning for SoTL and funding can enable them to move through the three-phase continuum.

Shaffer et al. (2019) reported that SoTL activity creates synergy between research and teaching and enables educators to move outside of traditional silos and into new communities that SoTL helps to create. Although maintaining both a SoTL and discipline-specific research agenda for educators could be demanding, the rewards could be transformative as SoTL can strengthen educators’ teaching and learning in their disciplines. The qualities of integrity, perseverance and courage of SoTL practitioners will help to grow and sustain SoTL practice (Glassick et al., 1997).