Supporting SoTL Development through Communities of Practice


  • Anne M. Tierney Heriot-Watt University
  • Dorothy Aidulis STEM Scotland
  • Julian Park University of Reading
  • Katherine Clark University of Reading



SoTL, communities of practice, scholarship, professional development, life sciences


Increasingly, academics are engaging with the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). However, within United Kingdom higher education, the definition of and activities that constitute SoTL remain open to debate. In this article, we explore SoTL through four career histories that give insight into how SoTL has developed and played a role in the careers of four life sciences-based, teaching-focused academics in UK universities at different points in their careers. The recurring themes in the career histories include collaboration; professional development; sharing and dissemination; and funding. The career histories also highlight aspects of and the importance of communities of practice. We reflect on the role of communities of practice in supporting SoTL and discuss how communities of practice external to one’s home institution can play a role in developing SoTL and teaching practice. Internationally there is a growing focus on SoTL, and although the four career histories presented here are authored by academics based in UK institutions and focused on the UK context, the themes they reveal are widely applicable.


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Author Biographies

Anne M. Tierney, Heriot-Watt University

Anne M. Tierney is an Assistant Professor in the Learning and Teaching Academy at Heriot-Watt University (GBR). Her interests are in SoTL and Communities of Practice.

Dorothy Aidulis, STEM Scotland

Dorothy Aidulis is the Founder and Director of STEM Scotland Ltd, a small company supporting skills development in science and education ( Dorothy is a former university lecturer and secondary science teacher, and is a member of the British Pharmacological Society and the Association for Science Education. (GBR).

Julian Park, University of Reading

Julian Park, a professor in the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development at the University of Reading (GBR), is a National Teaching Fellow with particular pedagogic interests in assessment and feedback, tech-enhanced learning, and fieldwork education.

Katherine Clark, University of Reading

Katherine Clark is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Reading (GBR). Her work focuses on teaching and learning and SoTL in the biological and agricultural sciences.


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How to Cite

Tierney, Anne M., Dorothy Aidulis, Julian Park, and Katherine Clark. 2020. “Supporting SoTL Development through Communities of Practice”. Teaching and Learning Inquiry 8 (2):32-52.