(CS EdX Sessions) Clarke, Deborah

Title: Building New scholars’ Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Capacity in a Community of Practice: our perspectives and voices on innovative practice

Presenter: A/Prof Deborah Clarke (Assoc. Professor Curriculum)

Co-presenter(s): Jacquie Tinkler, Jessica Sears, Stacey Jones

Faculty / Division: FoAE

School / Unit: Education

Session Type: Paper

When: Thursday, 18 November 2021 @ 12:15pm – 1:15pm

Where: https://charlessturt.zoom.us/j/61677406600



The Australian government is employing policy strategies to improve the quality of teaching in higher education institutions. One aspect of this quality agenda, the Higher Education Standards Framework, calls for academics to ensure currency of their discipline and pedagogical knowledge through engagement in scholarship. To illustrate the breadth of ‘approved’ scholarship activities and define the term, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) published the Guidance Note: Scholarship (2018). Further, in this guidance note, engagement in scholarship was deemed to be both an individual’s and an higher education provider’s institutional responsibility.

While TEQSA views scholarship as including an array of scholarly activities, for academics the reality of engaging in scholarship is for career progression, and recognition, and is most often directly linked to scholarship of teaching and learning publication (SoTL) (Vardi & Quin, 2011; Register & King, 2018).

For academics recruited from the professions; those who have been employed for their expertise in, and currency of industry knowledge, responding to this scholarship requirement has the potential to present challenges and create anxiety. As these new scholars complete doctoral studies, or undertake discipline research, their minimal understanding of the different voice and investigative approach to undertaking SoTL has the potential to impact on their confidence, academic identity and subsequently their SoTL engagement.

Outline of initiative or practice

In a rural NSW University that is badged as a ‘University for the Professions’ and employs a significant percentage of experienced mid- to late-career academics from high-profile industry positions, the need to raise awareness of and build capacity in scholarship has become a significant professional learning priority (CSU, 2020). For these academics, new to the roles of both teacher and researcher in a higher education context, engaging in SoTL has been promoted as a means of aligning the components of their work function, and fulfilling TEQSA’s university accreditation requirements.

Method(s) of evaluative data collection and analysis

This study’s sample comprised four academics (the researchers) in the Faculty of Arts and Education: a senior academic with expertise in SoTL and three new scholars. The experienced scholar designed and facilitated weekly online meetings using an innovative resource: Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia’s (HERDSA) SoTL Modules. The modules were employed to raise awareness of and build new scholars’ capacity to engage in the design and dissemination of SoTL.

Informed by autoethnography, the academics drew on their reflective journals and meeting recordings as qualitative data to describe their experiences of engaging with the SoTL initiative and identify the enabling characteristics of the professional learning opportunity. Data were analysed using document analysis (Bowen, 2009) and triangulated with Lave and Wenger’s (1991) three tenets of communities of practice (CoPs).  

Evidence of effectiveness

This presentation showcases the nature and efficacy of this facilitated online initiative as a relational and pedagogical space for building new scholars’ SoTL capacity, and evidences the importance of sustained, facilitated engagement in a safe, learning context informed by the concepts of a community of practice.


Bowen, G.A. (2009). Document Analysis as a Qualitative Research Method.  Qualitative Research

Journal. 9(2), 27-40. https://doi.org/10.3316/QRJ0902027

CSU Division of Learning and Teaching. (2020). Scholarly Activity Framework.


Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge

University Press.

Register, S. J., & King, K. M.  (2018). Promotion and Tenure: Application of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, and Scholarship of Engagement Criteria to Health Professions Education. Health Professions Education, 4(1), 39-47. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hpe.2017.02.002

Tertiary Education Quality Assurance Agency. (2018). Guidance note: Scholarship.


Vardi, I., & Quin, R. (2011). Promotion and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Higher Education Research and Development, 30(1), 39-49. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2011.536971