Have you thought about finding a more systematic way of measuring what is happening in your courses and if what you are doing with your teaching is effective? If so, you are thinking about inquiry in the area of scholarship of teaching and learning.

What is the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning?

The scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) focuses on systematic inquiry into students’ learning. As a multidisciplinary, international, scholarly practice, SoTL involves asking research questions about learning and teaching practices using a range of qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate those questions, and then disseminating those outcomes.

Interested in seeing more videos on this topic. See the Elon University, Center for Engaged Learning video library.


Defining a SoTL problem

In teaching a problem is something you need to fix. But in research a problem is the heart of the investigative process (Bass, 1999). Changing the framing of the problem from “terminal remediation” to “ongoing investigation” is an important part of the SoTL process.

Kinds of SoTL questions

As you begin to identify your problem and the subsequent research questions you want to investigate, think about the type of question you really want to answer. There are essential three types of questions you might ask: What is? What works? and What could be? (Hutchings, et al., 2000). For more advanced research, you might also find yourself building a theory. This is referred to in SoTL research as Division Based Educational Research (DBER).

Conducting human subjects research

SoTL is a form of human subject research. This means there are some additional precautions that need to be taken to assure your subjects (students) aren’t harmed in the process. This involves first completing necessary training on how to conduct human subject research and then obtaining an approval from the UMSL Internal Review Board (IRB).

The CITI training is required for anyone conducting human subject research and should be done during the planning phase of your research if not earlier. 

  1. You should log into CITI  https://www.citiprogram.org/?pageID=668 
  2. Select “add a course”. 
  3. Once there, you will have to answer a series of questions.  Question 3 is where you will select the Basic Course that you want to enroll in – Social and Behavioral Research Investigators.

The UMSL Internal Review Board (IRB) utilizes a system called IRBNet for management of proposals and all supporting documentation. 

For IRB assistance or a preliminary review of your proposal contact Danielle Hunter (danielle.hunter@umsl.edu; (314-516-5972) in the Office of Research Administration.
It is recommended you reach out to Danielle Hunter (danielle.hunter@umsl.edu; 314-516-5972) in the Office of Research Administration who can review your proposal before submission and provide guidance and feedback. Also review the human subjects research website for helpful guidance.

All submissions must be made electronically through IRBNet.

IRB Meetings

The UMSL IRB meets the 3rd Thursday of each month. Protocols are due 10 days prior to the meeting. 

Application for IRB Review

Applications for FULL committee review must be received by the Office of Research Administration 10 days before the scheduled meeting of the respective month (no exceptions).

See Office of Research Administration FAQs for more information on the review process or reach out to Danielle Hunter (danielle.hunter@umsl.edu; 314-516-5972).


Bass, R. (1999). The scholarship of teaching: What's the problem? Inventio: Creative Thinking about Learning and Teaching, 1(1).
Hutchings, P., Ed, & Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Princeton, NJ. (2000). Opening lines: Approaches to the scholarship of teaching and learning. Carnegie Publications, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.