Research Ethics Board User Guide on the

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Research

Use the guide below:

About the guide

The user guide is designed to help instructors interested in conducting SoTL research. By adopting an interactive approach, the user guide helps instructors navigate complex ethical issues by addressing key questions they may encounter while designing their research project.

Users can easily navigate through the guide by selecting different sections and chapters on the sidebar. Throughout the guide, the reader will be asked questions about their research plans, and given a series of answers to choose. By selecting next and back you can easily navigate between each question.

The user guide is divided into 5 sections. Section 1 introduces the challenge of identifying whether your project constitutes research, program evaluation or quality improvement. Section 2 describes the key ethical issues that researchers should consider when developing SoTL research. Section 3 guides the instructor’s consideration of the ethical implications of SoTL research, including how to ensure students are fully informed and can voluntarily consent to research participation, developing appropriate recruitment tools, and deciding who is in the best situation to work with student research participants. Section 4 helps instructors navigate the process of collecting, managing and using student data. This includes questions about collecting data in class versus online, the use of secondary data and the process for de-identifying student data. Section 5 provides instructors with additional resources they can consult for information and assistance.


The Research Ethics Board Working Group on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) was tasked with creating recommendations to help guide researchers in the application of research ethics principles. These principles are meant to guide scholarly investigation of the effectiveness of pedagogical innovation and practice related to course-based interventions.

What is the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning?

The Scholarship of Learning and Teaching is defined as the ‘the process of exploring, researching, developing, refining, reflecting upon, and communicating better ways and means of producing, promoting, and enhancing scholarly learning and teaching in ways that are ethically reasoned and inclusive’ (Healey et al., 2013: 24). At its core, the SoTL is a reflective practice that aims to enhance and enrich teaching and learning. It is a mechanism that enables the profession to reflect on high-level questions about student learning (Hutchings & Shulman, 1999).

This approach to understanding pedagogy is still relatively new, but has become a valuable tool that can enhance teaching and learning outcomes of students, instructors and institutions. The SoTL helps instructors become more conscious about their teaching practice (Ottenhoff, 2011), increases their awareness of how students learn (Lyons, 2003), and sheds light on how different teaching medias and learning mechanism can impact the learning process (Dorman, 2004; Horspool & Lange, 2012). It can further improve instructors’ understanding of where students are having difficulties and enables a pathway to address these challenges (Chanock, 2005; Draeger 2013). These interventions have centred on the reflective activities of the instructor, but have also been shown to have important benefits for learners (Brew & Ginns, 2008). As such, the SoTL challenges the status quo in favour of a more reflective and potentially transformational approach to teaching and learning (Lyons, 2003; Cranton, 2011; Atkinson, 2001).

Policies and Guidelines

All those conducting research with human participants, biological material or data must follow Dalhousie's policy on the ethical conduct of research involving humans as well as the Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS): Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans.

All those conducting SoTL research must also follow Dalhousie University Research Ethics Board Guidelines on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. This user guide was designed to help instructors apply these guidelines but the user guide should not be used as an alternative. It is advised that you consult Dalhousie University Research Ethics Board Guidelines on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning before viewing the user guide.


SoTL Consent Form Template