Research on Teaching and Learning

Research on teaching, or the Scholarship for Teaching and Learning (SoTL), is a growing movement in post-secondary education that seeks to understand or improve student learning and the teaching approaches and practices that affect student learning. SoTL is a scholarly activity in which an instructor engages in careful planning, evaluation, and dissemination of their study in order to inform their own teaching and also to influence practice beyond their own classroom. It is practiced across all disciplines in higher education and thus employs a wide range of lenses and methods. The principles of best practice in SoTL (Felten 2013) are that an inquiry is:

  • Focused on student learning
  • Grounded in context (both in the literature and in a teaching-learning context)
  • Conducted using sound methodology
  • Conducted in partnership with students (ethics approval, at a minimum)
  • Disseminated to contribute to both knowledge and practice

CTL provides resources, workshops, grants, and consultations to support and conduct SoTL research and to connect scholars across the institution.

About SoTL

Getting Started:


Multidisciplinary SoTL Journals:

We are working towards building a database of UAlberta scholarship on teaching and learning. In the meantime, this page provides summaries of research and links to research conducted by faculty across the University. If you are an instructor at the University who has published research on teaching and learning in the last 10 years, email us at with the citation and link and we'll add your work to our collection.

CELT Collected Essays on Learning and Teaching

Collected Essays on Learning and Teaching (CELT) publishes peer-reviewed scholarly and practice-based articles associated with the annual conference of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE). The intent is to challenge conference presenters to convert the essence of their peer-reviewed sessions into essay form for a wide readership interested in teaching improvement practices in higher education.

Current volume: Volume 8 (2015) Transforming our Learning Experiences 
Journal website: Collected Essays on Learning and Teaching

Faulty of Arts

Roger Graves

  • Parker, A., Marcynuk, K, and Graves, R. “Attribute 7 and Assessing Written Communication Skills in Engineering.” Proceedings of the 2014 Canadian Engineering Education Association. Canmore: CEEA14. 
  • Andre, J. and Graves, R. (2013). “Writing requirements across Nursing programs in Canada.” Journal of Nursing Education, 52.2, 91-97.

David Kahane

  • Kahane, D. (2012). Learning about Obligation, Compassion, and Global Justice: the Place of Contemplative Pedagogy. In Oleg Gunnlaugson (Ed.), Contemplative Approaches to Learning and Inquiry across Disciplines. New York: Albany, NY: SUNY Press. (Revision and reprint of “Learning about Obligation, Compassion, and Global Justice: the Place of Contemplative Pedagogy,” New Directions for Teaching and Learning (2009): 49-60).
  • Kahane, D. (2011). Mindfulness and Presence in Teaching and Learning. Learning with the World’s Great Teachers, p. 17-22.
  • Kahane, D., von Lieres, B. (2010). Teaching and learning democracy: Collaborative development of courses on citizenship. Institute for Development Studies Practice Paper 2011, 7, 1-51.

Faculty of Physical Education, Recreation and Leisure Studies

David Chorney

  • Chorney, & D., Stecyk, R. (2015). Increasing Student Engagement in Physical Education. Georgia Association for Health, Physical Education Recreation and Dance,47(1), p. 15-20.

Billy Strean

  • Cassidy, A., Wright, A., Strean, W. B., Watson, G. (2015). The interplay of space, place and identity Transforming our learning experiences in an outdoor setting. Collected Essays on Learning and Teaching.

In this paper, we use a day-long professional development workshop for higher education faculty conducted in an outdoor setting for an examination of the value of such activities. We explore the potential benefits, in terms of learning and holistic well-being, of educational activities designed to provide participants with sessions either in the natural environment or the built (urban) environment beyond the four walls of the traditional classroom. 

  • Strean, W. B. (2012). Exhilarated learning and the scholarship of engagement: From here (the university) to the horizon (the community). Collected Essays on Learning and Teaching, 5, 179-183.

In this paper, I explain the components of “exhilarated learning,” a model for effective classroom environments, and then show how this model can be applied to the broader context of community–university engagement. I describe the three dimensions of human connection, whole body engagement, and linking content to context. I then explore the association of this model with the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and Scholarship of Engagement.

  • Strean, W. B. (2011). Creating student engagement? HMM: Teaching and learning with Humor, Music, and Movement. Creative Education, 2, (3), 189-192.

With growing concerns about student engagement, the theme of creative teaching and learning provides an excellent catalyst to consider methods that enhance students’ classroom experiences. Good teaching is akin to weaving a fabric of connectedness between student, teacher, and subject (Palmer, 2007). Teacher-student connection and student engagement are the two most important ingredients in teaching (Lowman, 1995). This paper explores three effective methods of weaving the fabric and engaging students in higher education. Examples of how to use humor, music, and movement to deepen learning while adding energy, engagement, and interaction are offered. A review of research supporting the methods explored in this paper is included.

  • Strean, W. B. (2010). Moving (literally) to engage students: Putting the (physically) active in active learning. Collected Essays on Learning and Teaching, 3, 33-37.

This paper explores a variety of practices and classroom activities thatsomatic perspective (from “soma” meaning the body in its wholeness – the integration of thinking, feeling, and acting), the discussion shows how students canmovement, music, and interaction. 

  • Strean, W. B. (2009). Remembering instructors: Play, pain, and pedagogy. Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, 1, 210-220.

This study was undertaken to examine how coaches and teachers can contribute to making sport and physical education more fun for children. Twenty-four retrospective accounts resulted in five major themes: (1) personal characteristics of instructors/coaches, (2) learning environments, (3) peak moments in low organised activities, (4) social aspects, and (5) lessons from negative experiences. Results are discussed in relation to fun, enjoyment and happiness in youth sport and physical education. 

  • Strean, W. B. (2008). Evolving toward laughter in learning. Collected Essays on Learning and Teaching, 1, 165-171.

Lowman (1995) described the relationship between teacher and student and connection (Berk, 1998) and engages students in the learning process. The bond between student and teacher is essential for learning, satisfaction, and retention. Humour helps students to learn better, remember more, improve problem-solving, absorb and retain information more quickly, and reduce their anxiety about subjects like math and science. Humour also reduces classroom management problems. This essay reviews research findings that support the use of humour in teaching and it provides strategies that teachers can use to bring more humour into their classrooms

  • Strean, W. B. & Henderson, B. (2007). Mining our experiences: Reflecting on the subtle interpersonal dimension of teaching and learning. MountainRise, 4(1), 1-11.

Although the past decade has seen increased attention directed to technology and technical aspects of instruction, we focus here on suggestions related to interpersonal dimensions of teaching and learning. In the form of a relational checklist, thirteen specific points are raised. These tips can be used to help instructors to attend to the often subtle human components of professional practice. The suggestions raised include (a) exposing your own learning needs, (b) offering responsibility to students, (c) seeking out positive humor, (d) delighting in your own contradictions, (e) revisiting stories, and (f) sharing the whys of the various teaching strategies that you use.

Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

  • Cor, M. K., & Peeters, M. J. (2015). Using generalizability theory for reliable learning assessments in pharmacy education. Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning, 7, 332-341. 

This paper may be of value to people interested in learning how to evaluate the reliability and make design decisions for performance assessments that employ rubrics as scoring tools. The application is to performance assessments used in pharmacy but the principles apply to any learning assessment activity that uses a rubric scoring tool e.g. essays, projects, or other performance based tasks. 

  • Banh, H. L., & Cor, K. (2014). Evaluation of an Injection Training and Certification Program for Pharmacy Students. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 78(4). 

This paper demonstrates a pre-post method for evaluating the impact of a new educational technique on student confidence, perceived skill, and actual skill. The paper provides a methodological model in the context of pharmacy for people interested in evaluating the impact of a new educational intervention on targeted outcomes.