What teaching practices have the greatest impact on post-secondary students? How effective are new educational technologies in supporting learning? What are the benefits of service learning, or undergraduate student research? And how do we know?
The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) gives us insight into these, and other, questions. In SoTL, instructors, librarians and others engage in examining student learning in higher education, with the ultimate goal of understanding and enhancing how students learn. This inquiry takes many forms – for example, at the University of Toronto, educators have explored community engagement in the city through service learning, how multi-disciplinary courses can broaden horizons for both humanities and STEM students, and how best to gear medical education to create the most effective physicians for the future.
For educators, SoTL provides an inquiry-oriented stance that can lead to more effective practices in teaching and learning. At the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation (CTSI) at the University of Toronto, we help our community engage in this type of research. The CTSI team also undertakes SoTL research that informs our understanding of teaching and provides guidance on the many ways that educators can be supported at the University of Toronto. A recent report, for example, highlights the literature, models and practices that can result in more effective faculty mentoring for teaching.
To support these projects, CTSI recently launched an online publication, Re:THINK, which showcases innovative and effective teaching and learning practices from across our three campuses, including those that are grounded in educational research. On the site, we talk about community engaged learning, new and emerging academic technologies, exciting multi-disciplinary courses, graduate student development and much more. We post profiles of courses, instructors and students, sharing stories to inspire and challenge our community – and beyond.
By sharing stories of teaching and learning research, they become real and meaningful, inspiring faculty and students alike to reimagine how learning can happen in higher education.