SoTL in the margins: Teaching-focused role case studies

Nicola Simmons, Brock University
Michelle J. Eady, University of Wollongong
Lauren Scharff, United States Air Force Academy
Diana Gregory, Kennesaw State University


The number of teaching-focused faculty (TFF) continues to increase, raising concerns about opportunities to engage in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) for academics who are hired to focus on teaching rather than research. Various names for these teaching-focused positions include, but are not limited to: Instructional, limited-term faculty; permanent, but not eligible for tenure; equivalent to tenure-track (eligible for tenure); and casual teaching-focused. Regardless of title, TFF face a unique challenge: Hired for excellence in teaching and committed to improving teaching and learning, they are often not granted support to engage in professional development or research related to teaching and learning. These and other challenges are associated with their academically marginalized positions. The authors are members of the Advocacy Committee of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL). This paper builds on a session we offered at the ISSOTL conference in Calgary in 2017 where we invited TFF to contribute narrative examples of institutional SoTL challenges and their strategies for overcoming them. We describe potential solutions to creating institutional cultures that are supportive of TFF engaging in SoTL. We finish by offering recommendations for creating a SoTL teaching-focused community within ISSOTL to provide social and professional support.