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Scholarship of Teaching and Learning guide

Starting a SoTL project

"When you start reading SoTL literature in a field that interests you, it is difficult to stop following a trail of papers and texts. Give into it. Your teaching practice as well as your SoTL research will be the richer for it."

Julia Savage - SoTL academic Deakin University (2023)

1. How to begin 

Research design (or some prefer project design) for SoTL researchers involves refining the research question. This means considering the various layers and components that shape the research process. This is a critical process that leads to thoughtful decisions about methodology, selecting appropriate methods for data collection, establishing a framework for analysing data and then interpreting the collected data.  


The single most influential research activity is reading the SoTL literature related to your research question. 

You are looking for existing research that will inform your research project. In your literature review, or as part of your Introduction, or part of your discussion, you will be referring to existing studies on your research topic. Reading existing research might also help with the methodology, methods and data analysis techniques you might use. 

All of the theorists and research referenced in this guide have been collated in a reading list (add talis list url here) for you to use as a starting point.

What T&L practices are supported by research?  

To extend your scholarly teaching and research you might like to explore the MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) Contemporary Approaches to University Teaching and Learning. The course is hosted by the Council of Australasian University Leaders in Learning and Teaching (CAULLT) and is led by A/Prof Agnes Bosanquet and A/Prof Marina Harvey.  

This free resource can be explored synchronously as a social course at different points throughout the year or asynchronously as a self-directed module series. To find out more contact 

2. SoTL is a social activity

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is intrinsically a social activity as it revolves around the communal exploration of teaching practices and student learning. Rooted in collaboration, SoTL thrives on educators coming together to share, reflect upon, and critically discuss their classroom experiences and pedagogical strategies. Furthermore, it emphasizes the dissemination of findings within and beyond academic communities, ensuring that insights and innovations in teaching benefit a wider audience. The very nature of SoTL, with its focus on collective knowledge-building and responsive engagement with both peers and students, underscores its character as an endeavour deeply embedded in social interactions and communal advancement. 

Below are some ways you can actively and socially engage in SoTL: 

  • If you are new to SoTL, pair up with a colleague to explore a particular theme or teaching and learning problem.  
  • See what SoTL support exists in your faculty.  
  • Access the university’s teaching and learning central unit or the Deakin Teaching and Learning Academy.  
  • See what professional development is available or if there are academic developers available to help you on your way.  
  • Start up a SoTL reading group. 
  • Communities of Practice work well in the SoTL space and there is likely to be an existing one in your faculty or university. Or engage with this Reflections on University Teaching CoP led by A/Prof. Beth Beckmann. 

3. Writing about SoTL  

Healey, Matthews and Cook-Sather's “Writing scholarship of teaching and learning articles for peer-reviewed journals” (2019) article provides insight to the various ways you can write about SoTL. 

As Healy and others made clear, 'there is no one way to write about teaching and learning or to be a “SoTL writer”’(2019). In this paper, the authors focus on four types of SoTL-focused writing for peer reviewed journals: empirical research articles, conceptual articles, reflective essays and opinion pieces. The intention is to show how to find your scholarly voice as a new Teaching and Learning researcher. 

The authors acknowledge there are many ways to ‘go public’ with research outcomes. These may include, for example, in house publications, blogs, podcasts, and conference presentations. The intended audience of the Healy et al. paper is, however, those who are aiming to publish in peer-reviewed journals. These are the three questions the authors’ address: 

  • How can you use writing in SoTL? 
  • What opportunities does SoTL writing afford you? 
  • How might you embrace the potential of SoTL writing?  

Reading this paper provides interesting insights from three educators who come from different Disciplines within a university.

You and SoTL


Your SoTL journey is not a solo one.


There is no quick way to complete a SoTL project. Often, this is a source of frustration for busy teaching academics. You need time to immerse yourself in the language, literature and scholarly practices of SoTL. Similarly, you need time to identify, read and reflect on the specific, published work on your area of research interest. Importantly, scholarly practice and scholarly research are finding places to flourish in universities, so your SoTL journey is not a solo one.

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