Expanding the disciplines through SoTL

Parker, Janet (2010). Expanding the disciplines through SoTL. In: Fanghanel, Joëlle; Bernstein, Dan; Huber, Mary; Berthiaume, Denis; Warren, Digby; Roxa, Torgny and Colet, Nicole Rege eds. Proceedings of the 8th International Conference of the London Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. London SoTL International Conference (5). London: University of West London, pp. 113–119.

URL: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/EvidenceNet/sotl...


The panel - pro and anti disciplinary SoTL - that this paper contributed to - sought to debate whether disciplines inhibit or build up SoTL. Torgny Roxa argued persuasively, as ever! that disciplines exert a structural and epistemological control such that SoTL cannot find a place to operate or be as effective as it should be.

This paper seeks to take an opposite position. This is not to deny several of the ‘anti’ points: including that disciplinary hierarchies and research agendas can act in the inhibiting way he described. Indeed, it is precisely because I agree with the potentially vitiating and stultifying nature of the discipline as a tightly bounded research community that I feel so strongly that disciplinary SoTL is vital and vitalising. For the essence of SoTL - the exploration by the teacher of some problem that has puzzled her and the ownership and publication of that exploration – I argue here can, rather, make disciplinary development swift and teaching-centred. It is precisely because of the separating off of research structures - research leave, research grants, research CVs all accounted for differently from teaching - that disciplinary SoTL has a space to develop and to affect and effect. And, whereas the disciplinary agenda has traditionally followed that of the research community, with at best ‘research-informed teaching’, SoTL gives teachers in their own right, as teacher-scholars, an arena and a base from which to transform their discipline.

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