Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Welcome to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) website! Here you'll find information about SoTL projects faculty members are conducting on our campus, details about upcoming SoTL events, and ways for you to become involved in SoTL. Check out the "SoTL Resources" section for additional links.


What is SoTL?

Our scholarship of teaching and learning program serves faculty who want to incorporate investigations of discipline-specific pedagogy into their scholarly agenda. Most Gustavus faculty already pursue scholarship of teaching and learning projects in the sense that they identify a particular problem in a course, explore various solutions, implement a solution, and observe the consequences. A SoTL project takes this process further by requiring a well-documented process that is shared with others. The college's SoTL initiative brings faculty together in regular discussion to explore common readings, discuss strategies for developing SoTL projects, and provide each other feedback as projects progress.

SoTL Grants

Excellent teaching is serious, scholarly work. In order to support the resources required to address student learning in a scholarly manner, The John S. Kendall Center for Engaged Learning is pleased to introduce Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) grants. The initiative provides support for faculty to develop, implement and assess a pedagogical approach intended to address a specific challenge to student learning.  You are more than welcome to discuss ideas and plans with Alisa Rosenthal (x7437).

How do I get started on a SoTL project?

There are many resources on campus to help jump start your SoTL project. If you’re just getting started, you might consider skimming SoTL literature to gain a scope of the scholarship being conducted.  A recommended source is The International Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Your discipline may also have a journal or other publications that are fully or partly dedicated to teaching and learning in your field. 

There are plenty of opportunities to network with others on campus who have completed or are conducting SoTL projects.  Consult the list of projects at the bottom of the page to see experienced SoTL participants on our campus.  Attend one of the SoTL Lunches to hear about projects and meet others who are interested in SoTL. 

SoTL Resources

The following is a partial list of useful SoTL links, including links to SoTL literature and resources. 

On Campus Resources

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Moodle site:
Includes information about upcoming SoTL events and several SoTL articles

Institutional Review Board:
Information about conducting research on human subjects, including application instructions

Other Resources

Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CASTL):
A major initiative of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  The website also provides access to articles and presentations.

International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL):
Provides information about the society, as well as numerous links to SoTL publications and conferences



SoTL at Gustavus:

Several faculty members at Gustavus have pursued SoTL projects in the past few years. The following list represents some of the SoTL research conducted on campus recently.


Margaret Bloch-Qazi


Using writing assignments to help students in an intermediate-level Zoology course think critically and use discipline-specific vocabulary appropriately.

Leila Brammer Communication Studies Studied the possibilities of service-learning in Persuasion and Applied Communication Research courses; designed new courses to integrate service learning and developed assessment tools.
Leila Brammer & Sarah Wolter Communication Studies Public Discourse as impetus for civic engagement: The introductory communication course as transformative dialogue
Scott Bur Chemistry Lecture versus group problem solving
Kyle Chambers Psychology Learning developmental psychology by designing museum exhibits for the Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota. Chambers, K. E., Olson, P., & Rao, A. (2011, April). Learning developmental psychology through museum exhibit design.  Poster presented to the Developmental Science Teaching Institute at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Montreal, QC, CAN.  Click here for a pdf of the poster.
Denis Crnkovic Modern Languages and Cultures Studies the effectiveness of introducing “real texts” (texts that are unaltered from the original) of various types to students in the third and fourth semesters of language study.
Casey Elledge Religion Getting to Know Students as Readers: Promoting ‘Close Reading’ Methods in a Biblical Studies Course. This project focuses on two related tasks designed to help improve the quality of students’ critical reading skills in a Bible survey course: 1) gathering data on student reading skills; 2) using this data to promote three basic, yet valuable reading methods.
Patricia English and Mariangela Maguire Communication Studies Collaborating on "Interpersonal Communication as Practical Reasoning". The project emerged from the central question, "Do students leave Interpersonal Communication with the sense that they have the tools (in the form of course concepts and theories) to exert greater influence on their interpersonal relationships?" The project incorporates practical reasoning exercises to accompany course readings; Maguire and English also analyzed student writing. The project helped students to understand that technical terms could enhance their relationships rather than take the magic out of them.
Barbara Fister Library Using Student Writing Samples to Assess Information Literacy Practices
Rebecca T. Fremo English Working on a book project titled Toward a Rhetoric of Reading that considers the ways that teachers read student-authored texts. Interviewed several groups of former students in order to study their expectations of her as a reader.
Mary Gaebler Religion Working to engage students more deeply at the outset of the Business Ethics course; uses role-playing to encourage a better understanding of the human cost when ethically dubious business choices are made. Students will be asked to assume the identities (and to justify the choices) of real persons presently caught up in the Merck/Vioxx case.
Julie Gilbert Library Exploring the impact of library instruction on the information literacy skills of first years students; an article that grew out of the study can be viewed here.
Anna Hulseberg, Amy Gratz, Sarah monson, Julie Gilbert Library Conducted a large ethnographic study investigating library attitudes and use (both physical and virtual) among students, initial results can be viewed here.
Colleen Jacks Biology Interfering RNAs to Medicago truncatula genes: An undergraduate laboratory in gene cloning and analysis
María Isabel Kalbermatten Spanish Becoming an Independent and Effective Writer in Spanish: The Writing Process in Spanish Courses
Greg Kaster History Working with think-aloud methods in the gateway course, Thinking Historically, in order to study the ways that students come to read and understand historical documents; this project involves a longitudinal study.
Brenda Kelly Chemistry/Biology Development of inquiry-based biochemistry laboratory curriculum using modern equipment and fundamental techniques. The labs develop quantitative skills and allow students to communicate experimental results in oral and written formats.
Pam Kittelson Biology Seeking to improve the conceptual understanding of students in laboratory courses as they transition from rote memorization to critical thinking and independent analysis through two activities:  1) Hawaiian adaptive radiation - analyzing published research, summarizing, condensing existing material and presenting to peers.  2) Microevolution case problems - analyzing data, applying concepts in small groups (low stakes). Reinforced on exam questions (high stakes). Other major methods to enhance a transition to critical thinking and analysis include a 5 page literature review, weekly discussions of primary research articles, and a multi-week independent research project (presented in written and oral formats).

Kate Knutson, Chris Gilbert, & Julie Gilbert

Political Science & Library

Investigate the impact of a semester-long library lab component within the political science methods course on the research skills and habits of political science students; Gilbert & Gilbert published “Assessing Integrated Library Components to Enhance Information Literacy in Political Science” in Collaborative Information Literacy Assessments. Eds. Thomas Mackey and Trudi Jacobson. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2010.  Gilbert, Knutson & Gilbert have also written a manuscript geared toward political scientists.

Mary R. McHugh


Assessing the role of prompt feedback in second-semester Beginning Greek. Implementing higher-order assignments in Greek Art & Archaeology lecture class

Carolyn O’Grady Education Exploring the role of teacher expectations in student performance.
Matt Panciera Classics Investigates active learning techniques in order to alter the dynamic in Roman History course; seeking to engage students more fully and actively.
Michele Rusinko Theater and Dance Revising Studies in Dance History course to include more critical thinking, integration, and synthesis; recreated course by considering historical periods through the lenses of race, class, and gender; currently devising assessment strategy.
Brandy Russell Chemistry Fostering Independence in Advanced Laboratory Classes