The scholarship of teaching and learning: its relevance in the current higher education context in England

Dobbins, Kerry (2013) The scholarship of teaching and learning: its relevance in the current higher education context in England. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.


Download (1MB)


In 1990 Boyer published his Scholarship reconsidered: priorities of the professoriate report, which laid the foundations for the development of the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). SoTL foregrounds research into teaching and learning and re-designates higher education (HE) teaching as a developmental activity requiring purposeful experimentation, investigation and exploration. SoTL aims to foster significant, long lasting learning for all students and to advance the practice and profession of HE teaching.

A paradox appears to exist within the SoTL literature that my research has sought to address: whilst some scholars view the dominating features of the HE system, e.g. more students and less resources, to necessitate and require SoTL-based investigations, those features and the current agendas shaping HE make it harder for academics to engage in SoTL activities. Further, critics argue that the HE sector in England is being fundamentally transformed by the most recent White Paper (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), 2011), which, along with introducing higher tuition fees, reinforced neo-liberal principles such as marketisation and consumerism, and continued to promote business and economic needs over educational values and priorities.

My research sought to examine the relevance of SoTL within this current HE context in England. Using a case study approach I conducted semi-structured interviews with 19 academics in one institution. My findings expand the existing knowledge about SoTL by indicating that SoTL appears both practically and ideologically threatened by the current English HE context. Perceived workload and management pressures make SoTL difficult for academics to engage in, and its central elements, i.e. researching and innovating teaching practices, seem virtually redundant in an environment where consumerist and utilitarian ideologies dominate. Additionally, my findings contribute to current literature-based arguments about SoTL supporting academics to critically investigate the wider HE context they work in. Importantly, SoTL scholars offer little guidance about how a critically-focused SoTL might be realised. My research addresses this limitation by identifying critical discourse analysis as the framework through which a critically-focused SoTL could develop.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
July 2013Completed
Subjects: CAH22 - education and teaching > CAH22-01 - education and teaching > CAH22-01-01 - education
Divisions: Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > School of Education and Social Work
Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Richard Birley
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2017 13:58
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 17:23

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


In this section...