SoTL Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)?

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is the synthesis of teaching, learning, and research in higher education. It applies a scholarly lens to what happens in the classroom, lab, online learning environment, or any other educational setting. Two unique features of SoTL set it apart from other fields of study:

  1. classroom instructors study what is happening in their own classrooms as opposed to outside researchers who lack sufficient knowledge of the context, discipline, or student populations researching teaching and learning to suit their (the researchers’) own purposes; and
  2. SoTL participants publish their work and results in an effort to contribute to the academic field of teaching and learning in post-secondary education.
What is the incentive for participating in SoTL?

In order to conduct research in the context of SoTL and make substantial changes to a class, a Durham Tech faculty member needs a considerable amount of time and a structure that scaffolds their success.

Full-time instructors who submit a successful application receive a mini-sabbatical in order to allow for the time the work would require. An approved SoTL project releases the instructor from up to eight credit hours (or one clinical assignment for HT faculty) with full pay. Additional option beginning summer 2017: 9-month full-time faculty can complete their first semester of SoTL over the summer for a stipend. Contact Lance Lee at for more information.

Part-time instructors who complete an approved SoTL project receive a stipend of $500.

What are some examples of SoTL projects at Durham Tech?

In the first round of SoTL, Lea Bingham, a full-time English instructor (now Assistant Dean for University Transfer), researched how to promote students’ transfer of writing and critical thinking skills from English courses into other courses. She developed curricula and assignments that encourages the transfer of skills. Daysha Lawrence, a part-time sociology instructor, overhauled her online SOC 210 course to include greater online student-instructor interactions and then researched the impact of those interactions on student performance.

In Round 2, Jonathan Cook, a full-time English instructor and coordinator,  researched strategies to prevent and address academic dishonesty. He considered cultural competency, the anonymity afforded by many online social interactions, and student understanding of the mechanics of higher education. Sheza Healey, a full-time developmental reading and English instructor, researched technology-based instructional strategies that support developmental learners and technology-based content that engages developmental learners.

In Round 3, Marina DelVecchio , a full-time English and women’s studies instructor, researched teaching methodologies the challenge students to confront their own biases in an effort to combat stereotypes/assumptions related to feminism and women’s issues. And Jason Moldoff, a full-time communications instructor, examined the connection between code switching and academic oral presentation assignments.

In Round 4, Danielle Johnson, a part-time early childhood education instructor, researched the impact of peer-led group work and academic success.

In Round 5, Lisa Blair, Instructor, French and Spanish, researched how to best implement interpersonal activities and speaking technologies in the online world languages classroom.

What are the goals of SoTL at Durham Tech?
  • To provide faculty with the time, incentive, and structure to make significant changes to their teaching practices
  • To support Durham Tech’s first strategic theme “Champion learning, success, completion, and transfer,” and specifically Goal #3: “Students will experience excellent, consistent teaching in a variety of learning environments.” SoTL aims to encourage and reward excellent teaching from the college’s faculty. SoTL supports faculty in developing new skills, knowledge, and abilities to provide even better teaching and learning.
  • To support Durham Tech’s third strategic theme “Position Durham Tech as a first choice,” and specifically Goal #9: “Employees will choose Durham Tech first because we create and sustain a great college working environment.” SoTL is designed to contribute to a great working environment by offering a structure through which instructors can refine their professional skills.
What are the criteria for participation?

Eligible participants are full-time faculty who have been continuously employed at Durham Tech for at least two years or part-time faculty who have been continuously employed at Durham Tech for at least two semesters. Faculty must not only submit an application but also have their supervisor submit a recommendation form indicating support for the applicant and the proposed SoTL project.

What is the application process?

Applications will be submitted online and will be due February 1 in spring semesters and September 1 in fall semesters (see the timeline below for more details). Successful applications will include the following required components:

  1. Purpose of the project, including
    • the benefits to students
    • the justification for a need for a mini-sabbatical to make the change
    • the justification for the need for the change
  2. Proposed Support Team, including
    • the TLC director
    • two other college employees who can support the work
  3. Plan for publication, including
    • REQUIRED – internal options to include an article in Learning Matters or a TLC presentation
    • ENCOURAGED – external options to include discipline-specific or North Carolina Community College System conferences

Applications will be reviewed and selected by the TLC director in consultation with the TLC advisory committee, academic deans, and the vice-president for Student Learning and Instructional Services. Final approval of the SoTL participants must be given by the instructional supervisor, dean, and vice president for Student Learning and Instruction.

Other important details:
  • SoTL mini sabbaticals provide a break from teaching only. Full-time instructors are still expected to fulfill other responsibilities, such as, committee work and advising.
  • SoTL participants who do not meet the expectations of the program (specifically, publishing their project) are denied further eligibility in the program.
  • Faculty are eligible to re-apply for SoTL after two years of continued employment after the SoTL project is complete. Selection priority will be given to faculty who have not previously participated in SoTL.
  • Collaborative SoTL teams are also encouraged to apply. Two full-time instructors could share a single teaching load during the mini-sabbatical semester. Or a FT instructor and a PT instructor could collaborate on the same project and be eligible for different incentives.
  • In each round, a maximum of two full-time instructors from each academic department (including Arts, Sciences, and University Transfer; Career and Technical Programs; Continuing Education; Health Technologies, and Student Engagement and Transitions) will be selected.
  • In each round, a maximum of two part-time instructors will be selected.