The Importance of Scholarly Teaching
“Scholarly teaching is what every one of us should be engaged in every day that we are in a classroom, in our office with students, tutoring, lecturing, conducting discussions, all the roles we play pedagogically. Our work as teachers should meet the highest scholarly standards of groundedness, of openness, of clarity and complexity. But it is only when we step back and reflect systematically on the teaching we have done, in a form that can be publicly reviewed and built upon by our peers, that we have moved from scholarly teaching to the scholarship of teaching.” (Shulman 2004, p. 166).
The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is an important area of academic practice which underpins teaching excellence and development at RMIT. Broadly defined, SoTL involves the sustained inquiry into teaching and learning which improves student learning and is shared publicly.
The activities of SoTL – research design, data analysis, dissemination and publication – are very time consuming and not all of us have time to engage with it as fully as we might want. How and when you engage with SoTL is up to you. It can be useful when you first start teaching, as you broaden your profile as an early career academic and as you move towards promotion to more senior roles. There may be times in your career journey when you are more (and less) engaged in different dimensions of SoTL.
Even if you are not involved in the full ‘research’ aspects of SoTL, it is important that your teaching is scholarly.
All of our teachers in Science, Engineering and Health should be engaged in scholarly teaching. This means actively participating in the following activities:
- Learning about theories of teaching and learning, in the context of higher education. Keeping abreast of new innovations and examples of good practice from other disciplines/universities.
- Applying this knowledge when designing (and delivering) learning activities, courses and assessments.
- Systematically reflecting on the successes (and failures) of teaching and learning approaches and making informed plans for changes to practice.
By engaging in these activities together, we can ensure that our students benefit from the very best learning opportunities and experiences.
You will find that you are expected to provide evidence of scholarly teaching in your annual reviews, promotions applications and Teaching Awards submissions.
Engaging more fully in SoTL activities
There are many different ways to get more involved in SoTL activities. The College has a SoTL Adviser (see About Us) and there are many different resources, events and opportunities to help you develop your knowledge and skills throughout the year. There are three key areas of development which help you to navigate your way through the information: Develop, Share and Be Recognised.
Much of the work on ‘fundamentals’ in Learning and Teaching are delivered and supported by the college’s Learning Enhancement Team. Check their site SISTER for regular updates on training, resources and knowledge development opportunities.
The SoTL development programme focuses on two key areas of practise: Research Training (design, methods, analysis) and Reflective Practice.
For many staff, the challenge of writing up their work (for conferences, publications or Awards) is daunting! As with all disciplines, there are styles and conventions to be followed and these can feel ‘alien’, especially to those working in STEM disciplines. We support you to share your stories and write up your work, whatever your previous experience. A lot of what we offer is informal, collaborative and creative in approach, so don’t be afraid to get involved!
A key part of our SoTL work is supporting individuals through Reward and Recognition processes. Throughout the year we run programmes to support applications for Awards, Promotions and HEA fellowship.