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Centre for Teaching & Learning

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Centre for Teaching & Learning

Research & Pedagogy

What is Pedagogical Research?

Pedagogical research “is systematic and sustained enquiry, planned and self-critical, which is subjected to public criticism and to empirical tests where these are appropriate. […] Research is educational to the extent that it can be related to the practice of education” (Stenhouse, 1985, pp. 18-19). There are many forms of pedagogical research including the Scholarship of Teaching and learning (SoTL) and Action Research (AR).

Here is a useful tip sheet on pedagogical research from Nottingham University: https://www4.ntu.ac.uk/adq/document_uploads/teaching/137780.pdf 

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is now developing as an established, worldwide, scholarly discourse around: the theory and practice of learning and teaching; what we mean by excellence in those practices; and how we develop and share that good practice with colleagues.

For more information about SoTL, visit:

Annotated bibliography resource curated by one of our former Distinguished Visiting Teaching Scholars, Dr. Nicola Simmons. You will find several examples of SoTL and Action Research: https://sotlannotations.com/

The Vanderbilt Center for Teaching's Guide to SoTL: https://my.vanderbilt.edu/sotl/

A Higher Education Academy study into SoTL: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/defining-and-supporting-scholarship-teaching-and-learning-sotl-sector-wide-study

SoTL work here at Trent is active in many forms, including the Scholars’ Table and through one-to-one consultations with the CTL.


Action Research

In the Higher Education Academy Research Tool Kit (https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/pedagogic-research-tool-kit.pdf), the authors define action research as “a form of self-reflective enquiry undertaken by participants in social situations in order to improve the rationality and justice of their own practices, their understanding of these practices, and the situations in which the practices are carried out” (Carr and Kemmis, 1986, p. 162)”

Here is a helpful starter guide produced by Plymouth University.

Here you will find the seven steps to pedagogical research. https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/uploads/production/document/path/2/2392/7_Steps_to_Pedagogic_Research.pdf

Samples of Pedagogical Research from Trent University

Mathematics Classroom Collaborator (MC2): Technology for Democratizing the Classroom (Pollanen & Cater, 2018)    

Study of the first year academic experience at a growing liberal arts institution (Hanley-Dafoe & Bruce, 2018) 

Student engagement within a forensic science course (Illes, Bruce, Stotesbury, Hanley-Dafoe, 2018)

Novel Technological Approaches for Pedagogy in Forensic Science A Case Study in Bloodstain Pattern Analysis (illes, Bruce, Stotesbury, Hanley-Dafoe, 2016) 

Increasing nursing students' understanding and accuracy with medical dose calculations: A collaborative approach (Mackie & Bruce) 

Case studies in a flipped classroom: An approach to support nursing learning in pharmacology and pathophysiology (Mackie & Bruce)

For more information about pedagogic research including SoTL and Action Research, please contact Robyne Hanley-Dafoe at robynehanley@trentu.ca