Support for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

What is SoTL?

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is scholarly activity in which instructors pose questions related to student learning and teaching practice, systematically gather and analyze empirical evidence, draw conclusions based on that evidence, and share the findings publicly so that they may be critically reviewed and contribute to the body of pedagogical knowledge. Most SoTL studies are conducted by instructors who are investigating their own classroom practices.

Overview of the SoTL Process

The process for conducting and sharing results of a SoTL study mirrors that of research processes in many disciplines. The steps are often recursive as the study becomes more defined, and findings often generate further questions for future research:

  1. Identifying the problem and querying the research literature
  2. Defining the research question and designing the study
  3. Getting IRB approval
  4. Collecting and analyzing data
  5. Presenting and publishing findings

SoTL Discussion Group at UMBC

The FDC sponsors a SoTL discussion group that meets regularly during the academic year and summer. The group is open to anyone interested in learning about and discussing SoTL and the evidence base for scholarly teaching. Meetings can have various structures including reading from texts that describe the SoTL research process, discussion of empirical research articles, or a presentation by a faculty member who is working on SoTL research and seeking feedback from a supportive, scholarly community. A repository of articles discussed at past meetings can be found on Box. If you are interested in attending a SoTL discussion group meeting, please check the FDC homepage for a list of upcoming program dates and register for the session you wish to attend.

Additional Support and Funding for Pedagogical Research

Through the individual colleges and the Hrabowski fund, UMBC offers a range of other forms of support for those interested in SoTL research. The following collaboration and grant opportunities exist at UMBC:

Hrabowski Innovation Fund (HIF)

College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Grants for Pedagogy and Teaching (CAHSS PAT) – Look under the “Teaching” heading.

College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences Science Education Research Unit (CNMS SERU)

College of Engineering and Information Technology Engineering and Computing Education Program (COEIT ECEP)

Division of Information Technology Learning Analytics Mini-Grants (DoIT LA Mini-Grants)

Systemwide IRB for SoTL

UMBC has signed on to a new effort by the USM Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation to streamline the IRB process for UMBC faculty proposing SoTL research projects that pose minimal risk to participants. The Kirwan Center has partnered with the Human Research Protection Program in the UMCP Division of Research to develop a systemwide standing SoTL IRB protocol that has been approved by UMCP’s Institutional Review Board. Under an agreement signed by UMBC and UMCP, UMBC faculty can now use a simple protocol amendment form to propose SoTL projects to go to the UMCP IRB for expedited review.

For the purposes of the protocol, SoTL is defined as the systematic investigation of student learning, instruction, and/or teaching innovations and the dissemination of findings so as to contribute to a broader knowledge community. SoTL projects at their essence aim to improve student success by providing an evidence base to help inform course design and instructional decisions undertaken by faculty and programs.

For general information on the project, visit the Kirwan Center’s Systemwide IRB for SoTL project page. If you are a UMBC faculty member interested in submitting a SoTL study for IRB review under the protocol, visit UMCP’s Investigator Support and Resources page and go to the “Systemwide IRB – Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (SoTL) Resources” section to review the process and complete your amendment form. Faculty may contact the Faculty Development Center ( or the Office of Research Protections and Compliance ( in navigating the process.

Questions on the UMCP’s Institutional Review Board review procedures may be directed to

Did you find what you were looking for today?