Conflicts and configurations in a liminal space: SoTL scholars’ identity development


  • Nicola Simmons Brock University
  • Earle Abrahamson East London University
  • Jessica M. Deshler West Virginia University
  • Barbara Kensington-Miller University of Auckland
  • Karen Manarin Mount Royal University
  • Sue Morón-García University of Birmingham
  • Carolyn Oliver University of British Columbia
  • Joanna Renc-Roe Central European University



academic identity, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), liminality, troublesome knowledge


Although academic identity has received attention in the literature, there have been few attempts to understand the influence on identity from engagement with the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). In this aper, we (a group of eight scholars from five different countries) describe how our interactions with SoTL have impacted the shaping of our academic identities. We have struggled to define the value, purpose, outcomes, and meanings of being a disciplined SoTL scholar, sometimes in addition to and sometimes in opposition to being a disciplinary scholar. Through analysis of our own 100-word reflective narratives, we identify common conflicts and configurations around our experiences of developing a SoTL identity. We describe how navigating among conflicting identities can lead us into a troublesome but deeply reflective liminal space, prompting profound realizations and the reconstruction of academic identity. Drawing on this notion of liminality helps us to understand our journeys as moving through a necessary and important transformational landscape, and allows us to suggest ways to support those engaging with SoTL to develop an integrative SoTL identity.


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Author Biographies

Nicola Simmons, Brock University

Nicola Simmons is a faculty member in Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education at Brock University.

Earle Abrahamson, East London University

Earle Abrahamson is an educational and quality assurance consultant currently working at the University of East London.

Jessica M. Deshler, West Virginia University

Jessica Deshler is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at West Virginia University where she serves as the Graduate Teaching Assistant Coordinator.

Barbara Kensington-Miller, University of Auckland

Barbara Kensington-Miller is a senior lecturer in academic development, working in the Centre for Learning and Research in Higher Education at Auckland University.

Karen Manarin, Mount Royal University

Karen Manarin is Associate Professor in the Departments of English and General Education at Mount Royal University.

Sue Morón-García, University of Birmingham

Sue Morón-García is an academic developer who supports engagement with SoTL through a post-graduate certificate in academic practice, University of Birmingham, UK.

Carolyn Oliver, University of British Columbia

Carolyn Oliver is a PhD candidate at the School of Social Work, University of British Columbia.

Joanna Renc-Roe, Central European University

Joanna Renc-Roe is a lecturer at the Center For Teaching and Learning at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary.


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How to Cite

Simmons, Nicola, Earle Abrahamson, Jessica M. Deshler, Barbara Kensington-Miller, Karen Manarin, Sue Morón-García, Carolyn Oliver, and Joanna Renc-Roe. 2013. “Conflicts and Configurations in a Liminal Space: SoTL scholars’ Identity Development”. Teaching and Learning Inquiry 1 (2):9-21.



Articles: International Perspectives on the Practice of SoTL