In higher education academic staff are experts: disciplinary experts. They are often required to have significant research expertise, research degrees and a long track record of formal and experiential learning in their chosen specialist subject area. Then, after a long research apprenticeship, they finally get a teaching role. The UKPSF, Advance HE and even, to some extent, the Teaching Excellence Framework, all exist to professionalise teaching as a legitimate career in higher education but still, on appointment, most early career lecturers are subject experts but novice teachers.
There is a growing professional requirement for higher education academic staff to adopt a scholarly approach to learning and teaching practice, to gain professional recognition as teachers, and to undertake scholarship of teaching and learning as part of ongoing and continuing professional development. Whilst taking a scholarly approach to practice is an expectation of the UKPSF, and scholarly teaching practice is a characteristic of expertise in teaching, what role does SoTL play in professional development?
This article explores how a significant first foray into SoTL for early career statistics lecturers has resulted in unexpected learning for those who engaged in it. A study on how statistics anxiety may differ amongst different cohorts of students became a vehicle for deep learning about teaching, about students, about course design and pedagogy, and about SoTL. This led to a ‘critical awakening’ as scholarly teachers through the process of data collection, analysis, and reflection.
The aim of this article is to showcase the value not only of pedagogical evaluation as a scholarly output and source of publication, but also that the process of engaging in SoTL, whether it results in successful outputs or not, is of extreme value in becoming an expert scholarly teacher in higher education.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Michael McEwan, Eilidh Jack, Craig Alexander, Mitchum Bock