Just Like Pastrami NPR’s “I Believe” Essay Series. Educational psychologist Lee Shulman is president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in Stanford, Calif. For nearly 20 years he was on the faculty of Michigan State University and founded its Institute for Research on Teaching. Visit NPR’s website to listen!

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning as Social Science Situated Studies of Teaching and Learning: The New Mainstream There is a tendency to view situated research such as SOTL as an attenuated or diminished (degenerate in the language of linguists) form of scholarship when contrasted with the mainstream kinds of research published in social science or educational research journals.  Traditional research aims to contribute to theory, to achieve generalized findings and principles that are not limited to the particulars of setting, participants, place and time.  Situated research is always reported with its full particulars and seeks to describe, explain and evaluate the relationships among intentions, actions and consequences in a carefully recounted local situation.  It is therefore seen as contributing less to “knowledge.” I shall argue that the search for generalizations and principles that transcend participants and contexts is a vain quest.  Lee Cronbach observed that “generalizations decay.”  Jerome Kagan recently called generalization, in both the social and life sciences, “insidious.”  Even the gold standard, experimental studies such as clinical trials with randomly assigned treatment and control groups, are often of little value at the level of generalization, but potentially useful when analyzed in their particulars.   Situated studies of teaching and learning will emerge as the new mainstream, the gold standard for educational scholarship.  SOTL is not at the margins, but at the center.


  • Tapping the Affordances of the Web for SoTL: Crowd Sourcing Peer Review

  • Lee Shulman on Evidence 1, 2, and 3

  • The Evolution of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

  • Value of Contextualized Work and Aggregated SoTL Data


  • ISSOTL 2013   – October, 2013


  • Teaching Excellence in a Research University – George Washington University, October 2012

  • PCK Summit Keynote – Oregon State University

  • Inside The Academy: Lee Shulman – Arizona State University


  • Challenges and Opportunities for Liberal Education in Faith-based Universities – Baylor University, March 2011

  • Improving the Quality of Instruction in U.S. Schools  – Stanford University, October 2011

  • A Perspective on Teaching, The Past and Present – Stanford University, October 2011

  • Preparing and Retaining High-Quality Teachers – Mandel Center Brandeis, November 2011

  • On Teaching – University of Virginia, April 2011


  • Commencement Address – Penn State University, May 2008