The Stellenbosch University Teaching and Learning Policy (2018) describes reflective practitioners, 'progressing' towards becoming scholarly teachers, teaching scholars and ultimately, leaderly teaching scholars. Such leaderly scholars are described as those who 'contribute to the body of teaching and learning knowledge through publication, and provide leadership in the field of teaching practice institutionally, nationally and internationally'. The University has created growth opportunities to support this progression, including the annual Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Conference, the SU Teaching Excellence Awards, and the Teaching Fellowships, amongst many others. In so doing, SU is following international trends that call for the professionalisation of the teaching role in higher education.
However, SoTL, as a field, is contested, complex and even critiqued. There is also lack of consensus about the term 'scholarship' itself, rendering definitional clarity elusive. In this Auxin, we will explore these terms in depth and revisit SoTL as an area of endeavour. Our discussion will be informed by work conducted previously at SU (Adendorff 2011; Van Schalkwyk, Cilliers, Adendorff, Cattell & Herman, 2013), and a more recent study that has attempted to establish a contemporary definition of scholarship (Cleland, Jamieson, Kursurkar, Ramani, Wilkinson & Van Schalkwyk, in press). We will consider the relationship between scholarly teaching, SoTL and scholarship in the context of the current higher education landscape. Ultimately, we will reflect on the Policy's call to scholarly endeavour - the implications the call holds and the responsibility that it brings - as we seek to enhance teaching and learning at SU.
Susan van Schalkwyk, M Phil, PhD., is Professor in Health Professions Education and Director of the Centre for Health Professions Education in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Stellenbosch University. Research interests cover a range of topics related to learning and teaching in the health professions, with a specific focus on strengthening postgraduate studies and academic writing. Much of her work is informed by the principles of transformative learning theory, with current projects intentionally looking to adopt a social justice agenda. Susan is an SU Teaching Fellow and a Fellow of the international Association of Medical Educationalists (AMEE). She has authored or co-authored more than 80 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters.
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