The University of Iowa

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL): What is it?

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is the scholarly inquiry into teaching and student learning through evidence-based practices supported by data.

The Office of Teaching, Learning & Technology has opened a SoTL umbrella IRB to instructors in any discipline. The SoTL Umbrella IRB provides instructors a simpler process of IRB application and broader latitude for research design options. Under the SoTL Umbrella application, IRB approval takes about two to four weeks depending on the HSO review process. To start the process please follow the steps below.

Step One: Preparing to Apply

CITI Certification:

All investigators conducting human subject’s research at the University of Iowa  are required to complete an education program and become "certified" in human subject protections through the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative program (CITI).

To become CITI certified, go to the CITI website and scroll to University of Iowa. Then, follow these steps:

  • Use your Hawk ID to log in.
  • Select Course B and follow onscreen prompts to complete the course.  

Things to consider and prepare before submitting your application:

  • If you would like to conduct a study on a current semester course for which you are the instructor, then you will need a research team member to assist you in recruiting and collecting data until final grades have been submitted in order to avoid any conflicts of interest. Your team member will also need to have completed CITI TRAINING and be listed on the following paperwork.
  • What are your research questions and hypotheses? 
  • Who is your research cohort? 
  • Determine which consent form you will need. There are 4 approved consent form options (below), or you can create your own (which will need to be approved by the IRB):
    • IRB approved SoTL Consent Letter without signature.   GET TEMPLATE
    • IRB approved SoTL Consent Letter with extra credit.  GET TEMPLATE
    • IRB approved SoTL Consent letter with gift cards.  GET TEMPLATE
    • IRB approved SoTL Consent Letter without extra credit.  GET TEMPLATE
  • Determine which of the following types of data you will be using for your study:
    • Surveys: one to five times using IRB approved survey questions.
    • Class observations: one or more times during the semester.
    • Students’ exam, assignment scores, work samples from the course.
    • Students’ records from the Office of Registrar (such as gender, ethnicity, generational status, etc.). 
    • Students’ interaction data of the instructional technologies used in the course.
    • Focus group interviews.
    • Class observations with video or audio recording.
  • Think about how you will recruit participants:
  • Prepare study materials, for example: 
    • Surveys or focus group interview questions.
    • Alternative assignment EXAMPLE (only if you provide extra credits to research participants): This is to ensure fairness to students who would like to earn the same amount of extra credit without participating in your research.
    • Any other materials that pertain to the study that participants may be given/shown.

We will help you with research design/methods that are likely to answer your research questions/find evidences that you seek. Contact us at to discuss your research ideas further. 

Step Two: Applying

To apply, the following documents need to be completed and submitted to the Research & Analytics team at

  • Abstract.
  • Consent form. 
  • Recruiting/study materials.
  • Alternative assignment if you provide extra credits to your participants.

After approval, if you would like to change any part of your study, you will need to submit a modification form to get the changes approved by IRB.

Step Three: Continuing Review (After your study is approved)

Each year the project continues, a continuing review will be submitted to the IRB, and you will need to gather or track the following for that review:

  • Progress to date: problems, delays, changes, and any significant participant experiences (benefits, adverse events/adverse reactions).
  • Total number of participants so far, separated by gender.
  • Participant complaints about the study.
  • Participant withdrawals.

The R&A team will send out a form to collect the above information for the continuing review.  

 Approved SoTL Projects:

For each Project, the following information is listed: title of the project, PI, and research questions.

  • Impact of Increased Lab Time in Computer Organization and Architecture, Brandon Myers.

Does increasing the amount of lab time relative to guided instruction in a Computer Organization course taught in an active learning classroom i) improve student learning outcomes and ii) improve gains in students’ self-efficacy in computer science iii) improve the exam scores of students with low persistence, iv) improve students’ perceptions of peer and instructor interactions, and v) improve students’ perception of value of Computer Architecture?

  • SOTL-TILE Constellation (Big Ideas) Exit Survey, Cornelia Lang.              

What impact do the Big Ideas courses have on the undergraduate academic experience at the University of Iowa?

  • Experiential Learning: Broader Impacts, Erin F. Barnes.

Discover the impact of experiential learning among undergraduate students on students’ experience with course content, and also on their professional development.

  • Process-oriented guided inquiry and learning as implemented in an upper division physical chemistry classroom, James Shepherd.

How does process-oriented guided inquiry and learning affect student learning outcomes in Physical Chemistry II?

  • Effectiveness of Peer Assessment, Jane Russell.

Do students’ writing skills improve through peer assessment?

How do students perceive peer assessment related to improvement of their writing and evaluating skills?

  • Course Activities and Student Perceptions about them in Undergraduate Human Physiology Courses: Effective Learning Tools or “Busy-Work”?, Jennifer Rogers.

Does the completion of carious course activities (online quizzes, online assignments, asynchronous discussion, experiential lab activities, self-reported independent study, office hours or SI session attendance) correlate with mastery of course content, as measured by exam performance?

What is student perception of the value (contribution to their understanding of course content) of different course activities?

Does course content master (i.e., exam performance) correlate with course delivery format: traditional lecture, online, hybrid courses? Does student perception of achievement vary based on course delivery format?

Are there different correlations between course activities and exam performance according to delivery format?

Do student perceptions of Instructor knowledge, concern for student learning, effectiveness, or gender correlate with their end-of-semester self-efficacy?