Teaching as Research

What is Teaching as Research and the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning?

Teaching as research (TAR) is an effort to integrate research, teaching, and learning. The Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) explains it as the “deliberate, systematic, and reflective use of research methods... to develop and implement teaching practices that advance the learning experiences and outcomes of both students and teachers.”

In teaching-as-research, faculty collect information about student learning in their own classrooms, just as they do research in their own disciplines. The data may be qualitative (interpretive methods, interviews, participant observation, focus groups) or quantitative (surveys, control groups, pre- and post-tests, learning analytics). The focus here really is on your own students and classroom space. (In the pre-k-12 classroom this is referred to as ‘teacher-action research’).

The idea is to take your research skills and apply them to your teaching in order to improve student learning.

Chances are, you are already doing this, at least informally. Great teachers are always observing their students, doing formative assessments, collecting all sorts of data, and then using that information to improve their teaching methods. Teaching as research is just an effort to make this more systematic and explicit, rooting the data and analysis in student learning outcomes.

The Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (SoTL) is a broader designation and refers to a whole body of literature on the science of learning. Your own TAR project, combined with this broader literature, could be written up as an article for publication, either within a higher education and teaching journal or in your own disciplinary journals. Please see our Faculty Fellows program if this interests you!

Many of our faculty have published in this area:

If you’d like to discuss a TAR or SoTL project idea further, please just contact TLI. If you already have an article in the works, see the list of SoTL journals for placing your work.