Introduction: Unlocking SoTL’s Potential for Transformative Education
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xi Introduction: Unlocking SoTL’s Potential for Transformative Education Delores D. Liston and Regina Rahimi The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) represents a movement in higher education to revolutionize scholarship in relationship to teaching. Many scholars enter academia because they want to conduct cutting-edge research in their fields. So they become experts in their particular fields, and then, once they’ve obtained the coveted terminal degree and landed a tenure-track position at a college or university, they discover that in addition to researching and writing about their area of expertise, they must teach undergraduate or graduate students or both. For these faculty members, research is primary and teaching is secondary. Teaching is often viewed as a hindrance to their real work as scholars, which involves presenting and publishing their research findings. For others, obtaining the terminal degree is a means to the ends of entering a teaching profession at the collegiate level. Members of this group might have started as K-12 teachers, but their goal is to teach in higher education (generally for less pay than they earned in public schools, but that is a story for another day). For these faculty members, teaching is primary and research is secondary. Researching becomes a task they must do in order to remain in their teaching post at the college or university. At this point, I’m sure there are some readers wondering about the “third leg” of the academic stool: service. For most college and university faculty, the service component (service to the profession and service to the institution) remains tertiary. Although I’m sure there are some who enter the realm of college teaching in order to serve on various institutional, departmental, and even professional committees, this cadre is fewer in number. Further, this cadre also moves quickly into administrative positions within the university, places where teaching and scholarship become xii | Introduction secondary to the business of managing the institution. Therefore, for the most part, the service component of academic life is outside the scope of this volume. Activities of teaching and learning, on the other hand, are central to the discourse of this text and form the basis of SoTL. Whether teaching or research is primary for an individual faculty member, a tension between these two aspects of being a college professor undoubtedly exists. For the former group, teaching is an activity that pulls the researcher away from the primary task at hand and interrupts the flow of the research and scholarship process. For the latter group, researching and scholarship are drudgery, activities that must be completed to justify their continuation in the academy. SoTL has emerged as a vehicle with the potential to resolve, or perhaps better stated dissolve, the tension between research and teaching that has plagued academia. Seemingly simple, the idea behind SoTL is that teaching is a scholarly activity (Boyer, 1990; Menges & Weimer, 1996). Therefore, scholars ought to recognize that their teaching and their research need not be at odds with one another, but rather scholarship should support teaching and teaching should support scholarship. The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning has great potential as a vehicle to elevate the work of teaching, improve classroom engagement practices, and enable us to learn more about pedagogy, classroom management, and most importantly our students . This opportunity to explore our personal interactions with our students, the sociology behind teaching, and the diverse perspectives explored through a teaching and learning relationship is perhaps the most powerful promise of SoTL. Examination of social justice and opportunity for equity in the work of SoTL is what the contributions of this text hope to provide. What Is SoTL? As noted earlier, SoTL is a movement within higher education that seeks to revolutionize scholarship in relation to teaching. As Gilpin and Liston (2009) noted in an earlier publication, SoTL seeks a transformation in the academy through its threefold agenda: 1) recognizing teaching as inquiry relevant to research; 2) recognizing the act of teaching as a public rather than private endeavor, and thus related to the formation of community or commons; and 3) recognizing teaching as a scholarly endeavor, and thus subject to peer review and evaluation (McKinney, 2007; Huber & Hutchings, 2005; Huber & Morreale, 2002; Shulman, 2002; Bender & Gray, 1999; and Bass, 1999). We see this transformative aspect of SoTL as potentially manifesting in two significant ways: 1) turning teaching into scholarship to be used for tenure and promotion in order to increase the emphasis and importance of pedagogy throughout the university...


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