Methods for Doing SOTL
Maryellen Weimer is only one of many faculty who have shifted the focus of their research from their original discipline to a more general study of the scholarship of teaching and learning.
The CTL's on-line bibliography, as well as the library in the office of the Center for Teaching and Learning, contain numerous books and articles concerning all aspects of SOTL.
Among the methods that have been adopted and adapted by SOTL researchers:
- Case Study: An in-depth description and analysis that might employ a variety of quantitative and qualitative approaches in the study of a single case.
- Classroom Ethnography: Applies ethnographic, socio-linguistic and/or discourse analytic research methods to study the behavior, interactions, and "culture" of a classroom; "emphasizes the socio-cultural nature of teaching and learning processes, incorporates participants' perspectives on their own behavior, and offers a holistic analysis sensitive to levels of context in which interactions and classrooms are situated."
- Discourse Analysis/Textual Analysis: Investigates language use as a reflection of social practices and systems; for example, student texts could be used as evidence of learning or as examples of the cultural narratives constructed within a particular classroom context.
- Experimental Design: The researcher deliberately changes one or more "process" variables in order to observe or measure the effect of that change on one or more "response" variables; the goal is to rule out other possible variables in order to identify the actual variable that causes the effect.
- Grounded Theory Research: A qualitative approach from the social sciences which works inductively to derive meaning from data; seeks to develop theories that are "grounded" in data.
- Longitudinal Research Study: An observational method that consists of gathering data at different points in time either from the same group of people or from a sample group from a particular community.
- Participatory Action Research: A method by which researchers and those they study enter into a partnership to identify the best way to study a problem and make sure that the results of the research make a difference to those who were studied.
- Quasi-Experimental Design: Less strictly controlled than a traditional experimental method; makes a comparison between two groups in which one variable is different.
- Self-Study or Autoethnography: In-depth reflections on one's practices as an educator.
- Survey Research: Any method that involves asking questions of respondents; it can range from short paper-and-pencil questionnaires to in-depth one-on-one interviews.
This list is far from comprehensive; for a more detailed look at the case study method and participatory action research, as well as Stonehill faculty presentations on arts-based research, survey design, and basic statistics for beginners, see the SOTL Research Methods Series.