The term 'Scholarship of teaching and learning,' otherwise known as SoTL, was popularised largely by the work of prominent teaching scholar Ernest Boyer in the 1990s.

While there is no single definition, generally the term refers to a sustained inquiry into teaching and learning approaches and outcomes.

Implied in this definition is a reciprocal relationship between the research and practice of teaching. This definition also necessarily includes an accompanying body of published SoTL research.

Scholarship in teaching

Boyer (1990) argued there are four scholarships:

  • of discovery: basic or ‘pure’ research, the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake
  • of integration: “making connections across the disciplines, placing the specialties in larger contexts, illuminating data in a revealing way, often educating non-specialists, too”  (p.18)
  • of application: applying what we know through theory as well as practice to solve complex problems
  • of teaching.

The study that underpins good teaching is understood to include not just knowledge of good principles within a discipline, but also the latest ideas about teaching and learning. Teachers are reflecting on their teaching in ways that can be shared with a wider community of educators, and, using a variety of evidence-gathering and documentation strategies, making their students’ learning more visible.

Scholars of teaching and learning:

  • treat their classrooms and programs as a source of interesting questions about learning;
  • find ways to explore and shed light on these questions;
  • use this evidence in designing and refining new activities, assignments, and assessments; and
  • share what they have found with colleagues who can comment, critique, and build on new insights
  • disseminate their findings.


  • Murray, R 2008, The Scholarship Of Teaching And Learning In Higher Education, Maidenhead, Berkshire, England: McGraw-Hill Education. 
  • Boyer, EL 1990, Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities Of The Professoriate, n.p.: Princeton, N.J.: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
  • Lee, S 2000, 'From Minsk To Pinsk: Why A Scholarship of Teaching and Learning?', The Journal Of Scholarship Of Teaching And Learning, 1, p. 48.