The power of social networks: A model for weaving the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning into institutional culture


  • Andrea L. Williams University of Toronto
  • Roselynn Verwoord University of British Columbia
  • Theresa A. Beery University of Cincinnati
  • Helen Dalton University of Sydney
  • James McKinnon Victoria University of Wellington
  • Karen Strickland Edinburgh Napier University
  • Jessica Pace McMaster University
  • Gary Poole University of British Columbia



model for integrating SoTL, SoTL and institutional culture, social networks in higher education, change in higher education


This paper offers a guide for those seeking to integrate the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) into higher education institutions to improve the quality of student learning. The authors posit that weaving SoTL into institutional cultures requires the coordinated actions of individuals working in linked social networks rather than individuals acting in isolation. Analyzing both the barriers and potential pathways to integrating SoTL into institutional cultures, the authors provide a conceptual model along with examples of practical strategies for overcoming resistance to change within institutions. The paper provides examples from a variety of different international contexts to show how incentives and other non-coercive measures can motivate faculty and administrators to weave SoTL into institutional fabrics.

Drawing on social network theory and the concept of communities of practice, the paper presents a model with attendant strategies for disseminating SoTL values and practices across all three levels of postsecondary institutions: the micro, the meso, and the macro. The authors argue that for SoTL to take root in organizational cultures, there must be 1) effective communication and dissemination of SoTL activity across all levels, 2) well established social networks and links between these levels (nodes), and 3) sustained support by senior administration. The authors conclude by suggesting ways their model could be tested.


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Author Biographies

Andrea L. Williams, University of Toronto

Andrea L. Williams is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Toronto where she directs a Writing Across the Curriculum program.

Roselynn Verwoord, University of British Columbia

Roselynn Verwoord is a PhD Student in Educational Studies and the Evaluation and Research Coordinator at the Centre for Teaching Learning and Technology, University of British Columbia.

Theresa A. Beery, University of Cincinnati

Theresa A. Beery, PhD, RN, ACNP-BC, CNE is a Professor and Director of the Center for Educational Research, Scholarship, and Innovation at the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing.

Helen Dalton, University of Sydney

Helen Dalton is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Business at the University of Sydney and a Higher Education Learning and Teaching Consultant

James McKinnon, Victoria University of Wellington

James McKinnon is a Lecturer in the Theatre Programme at Victoria University of Wellington.

Karen Strickland, Edinburgh Napier University

Karen Strickland is a Senior Lecturer and Senior Teaching Fellow in the Academic Practice team in the Office of the Vice Principal (Academic) at Edinburgh Napier University.

Jessica Pace, McMaster University

Jessica Pace is a PhD Student in the Department of Anthropology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Gary Poole, University of British Columbia

Gary Poole is the Associate Director of the School of Population and Public Health and Senior Scholar in the Centre for Health Education Scholarship at the University of British Columbia.


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How to Cite

Williams, Andrea L., Roselynn Verwoord, Theresa A. Beery, Helen Dalton, James McKinnon, Karen Strickland, Jessica Pace, and Gary Poole. 2013. “The Power of Social Networks: A Model for Weaving the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning into Institutional Culture”. Teaching and Learning Inquiry 1 (2):49-62.



Articles: International Perspectives on the Practice of SoTL