Scholarship of learning and teaching

library books

At the Australian Catholic University, scholarly teaching seeks to enhance students’ learning experiences through improvements in the quality of teaching and learning experiences and outcomes. It involves reflective and scholarly evidence-based studies on students’ learning, leading to innovations, changes or enhancements in practice. The importance of peer-review, public dissemination and sharing within a global community of practice contributes to building collective disciplinary and inter-disciplinary knowledge and an understanding of current issues and debates in higher education.

A recently published report from the Higher Education Academy (HEA) 2015 Defining and supporting the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL): A sector–wide study provides a good overview of the literature and history of ideas around SoLT. The report highlights a move away from a focus on individual SoLT practices and definitions to a broader range of more sophisticated themes, which include peer-review of teaching, building communities of practice, and disciplinary and cross-disciplinary differences. The report also includes information on research-informed teaching, undergraduate research and institutional tools for strategically developing excellence. These all contribute to academic career planning, promotion and recognition.

ACU actively supports the development of SoLT through faculty and institutional teaching development grants and teaching awards, disciplinary based/project based writing groups, peer review of teaching programs, and activities embedded in ACU’s Graduate Certificate in Higher Education. Events such as the biennial ACU Learning and Teaching Conference and disciplinary learning and teaching seminars showcase academic inquiry into learning and teaching practice.

Useful resources

The Federal Department of Education and Training, through the Promotion of Excellence in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (PELTHE) program, awards the annual Australian Awards for University Teaching, These awards recognise sustained outstanding contributions to teaching excellence. More information can be found on the ACU Learning and Teaching webpages (

The Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA) promotes the development of higher education policy, practice and the study of teaching and learning. HERDSA has a highly rated journal (HERD), an annual conference, and other useful publications.

The Higher Education Academy (HEA) focuses on improving learning outcomes by raising the status and quality of teaching in higher education.

The International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (ISSOTL) is a useful place to find resources about teaching and learning. ISSOTL conferences are held each year.