The Scholarship of The Learner

By Denise McTighe

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content imageThe Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) founded on the work of Ernest Boyer past president of the Carnegie Foundation, is emerging as an international movement that reevaluates the importance of teaching and learning in our universities. It strives to challenge us to analyze our higher educational infrastructures, and the impact our own teaching has on student learning and academic growth.

On February 14, Dr. Hughes was at the University Learning Commons speaking on the importance of academic integrity and scholarship in our higher educational organizations.

Dr. Julia Christensen Hughes is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Management at the University of Guelph and Director of Teaching Support Services (TSS). She is also President of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

Drawing on the work of Boyer, and his philosophy of the benefits of bringing a scholarly approach into the teaching practices in our higher educational institutions, in a highly-engaging presentation, Hughes argued that academic refocusing is needed on developing faculty as teaching and learning scholars, and she spoke on the importance of “valuing and rewarding college and university teaching.”

According to Hughes, “To be fully engaged in a community of inquiry, one must be a scholar that includes being both teacher and learner.”

Hughes challenges faculty and administration to look at themselves and study their own disciplinary mechanisms: “We have forgotten that to be an academic is to be a scholar. Today much more than in the past, we are seeing what the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning can do to help people realize the impact their own teaching has on student learning.”

“We need to have a sense of integrated scholarship,” explains Hughes, an environment where university faculty interact and collaborate on matters of teaching and learning with their peers across campus, and potentially beyond. This would have the ability to heighten awareness and build community, where inter-disciplinary sharing and support helps to further achievement and understanding of teaching and learning.

Dr. Hughes believes strongly in the quality assessment of teaching, and student learning for the success and advancement of the educational sphere. She believes the teaching methods of faculty needs to be developed and we need to assess how “Increasingly narrowly focused faculty work has become and how teaching has become increasingly devalued.”

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning serves to have people analyze their own pedagogical principles, and how their teaching impacts their students, discipline, university and entire cultural make-up. It strives to deepen student learning and engagement in the educational process and return the academic environment back to one of scholarship, where the pursuit of truth and better understanding is a continuous quest that has no end in sight.

View “Support Academic Integrity” Presentation