Scholarly Teaching and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
According to the American Educational Research Association (AERA), educational research is the “scientific field of study that examines education and learning processes and the human attributes, interactions, organizations, and institutions that shape educational outcomes.” Educational research may be used to address teaching and learning challenges, sharpen one’s teaching skills, and inform teaching practices.
There are numerous ways you might engage with educational research:
Scholarly Teaching describes the intentional practice of reading, analyzing, and applying scholarly literature on teaching and learning to one’s practice in order to improve student outcomes. This activity can also include consulting with other educators.
Action research is a form of scholarly activity used by educators in higher education as a way to efficiently 1) investigate one’s own teaching and facilitation practice, with the dual purpose of 2) contributing to theoretical knowledge to the benefit of student learning. Action research is worthwhile for ATSU educators interested in enhancing their instructional skills, at the same time furthering their own research productivity. Action research is a broad term incorporating many different research approaches and methods. For instance, Teaching as Research (TAR) involves applying a research-based approach to one’s teaching practice. The TAR process includes developing a hypothesis for a practice that seeks to improve an aspect of the teaching and learning experience in one’s classroom, implementing that practice, analyzing learning outcomes, and finally reflecting and iterating. Generally, TAR projects are small-scale and exploratory, seeking to identify what can improve student learning in a given course rather than creating widely generalizable knowledge. As such, TAR projects are often not designed with the intention of producing peer-reviewed outputs, but rather to continually improve one’s own teaching.
Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) seeks to answer the what and the how about teaching and learning through full, formal, systematic research studies that produce generalizable knowledge intended to be disseminated to a public audience (through means such as peer-reviewed manuscripts or conference presentations). In SoTL, the primary researchers are often instructors and the inquiry may include qualitative and/or quantitative approaches.
Discipline-Based Educational Research (DBER) is often considered a subset of SoTL that focuses on testing theories and exploring teaching and learning within a given discipline, typically STEM and related fields. In DBER researchers ask questions about how students learn concepts and develop expertise in a field of study with the goal of generating knowledge that is applicable to diverse instructional contexts and courses. Like SoTL, DBER is often disseminated to the public through a range of scholarly works.
Scholarly teaching and action research are great places to get started:
Scholarly Teaching: reading articles related to practices you are considering using in your teaching (e.g. MedEdPortal, BMC Medical Education, Journal of Dental Education, Journal of Physical Therapy Education), joining an educational research journal club, or attending a conference on educational in your discipline.
Action research/TAR: hypothesizing that a new technique will enhance student learning outcomes in your class, using that in practice, and then examining data like test scores and student feedback to see if the practice was effective.