Teaching Excellence Scholars

"We are constantly curious about our teaching and our students' learning because we want to be better teachers"

Bishop-Clark & Dietz-Uhler, 2012, p. 4

Applications no longer being accepted for the 2023 Teaching Excellence Scholars

The Teaching Excellence Scholars program provide a small award (up to $1500) to support 3-5 individuals with a teaching role at USU to engage in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). Teaching Excellence Scholars are provided with funding for professional development and resources associated with conducting a SoTL project.

What is SoTL?

Simply stated, "SoTL aims to understand how student learning has been developed and to share that knowledge with other practitioners” (Bright, et al., 2016, p. 215). Those who engage in SoTL are not only engaging in evidence-based scholarly teaching, but take it a step further to evaluate teaching and student learning in the classroom in order to become better teachers and to contribute to the field.

Felten (2013) shares the following principles as key to effective SoTL:

  • Inquiry focused on student learning
  • Grounded in context
  • Methodologically sound
  • Conducted in partnership with students
  • Appropriately public

Want to learn more about SoTL? Take a deep-dive into SoTL with Drs. Peter Felten and Katie Linder by listening to episode 19 of the Research in Action podcast. In this episode they discuss Felten's five principles of good SoTL, they describe SoTL and its purpose, define Boyer's model, and discuss potential challenges of partnering with students on SoTL projects.

Teaching Excellence Scholar Program

Teaching Excellence Scholars will have access to current SoTL literature through Canvas course resources. They will also engage in an initial discussion and subsequent one-on-one meetings with SoTL mentors as needed. Scholars will gain knowledge of, and experience in, the various stages of conducting a SoTL project including the initial articulation of a classroom-based research question, determination of the appropriate research methods to answer this question, ethical considerations that are relevant to conducting classroom research and submitting to IRB, considerations of potential outcomes of the proposed study, and sharing results.

Participants can expect to achieve the following objectives:

  • Understand the process of developing, implementing, and disseminating a SoTL research project through the resources and peer feedback provided by ETE.
  • Collaborate with a community of SoTL scholars who use their research to improve their own teaching.
  • Contribute to SoTL through publication in academic journals or presentations at academic conferences about teaching and learning.

Program Eligibility & Requirements

To apply for the Scholars program you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be a current instructor at any USU campus, including tenure track faculty, VITAL (visiting, instructor, term, adjunct, lecturer) faculty, and graduate student instructors.
  • Teach a class at USU in the 2023-24 and/or 2024-25 academic years.
  • Be already engaged in improving your teaching practice.*
  • Be interested in conducting an inquiry project surrounding teaching and learning.
  • Be committed to improving student learning and student success at USU.

*Preference will be given to individuals enrolled in ETE10 , those who have earned a Teaching Scholar Certificate, and those who have previous experience developing and implementing SoTL research.

ETE Scholars are expected to:

  • Participate in an initial meeting during the fall semester after acceptance. Meetings will be determined by the availability of the participants and will be facilitated over Zoom
  • Follow the recommended project timeline
  • Present their SoTL project at the annual ETE Conference
  • Disseminate their results at a conference or in an academic journal related to teaching and learning

Funding Award Requirements

Funding for Scholars can be used for the following:

  • Professional development (books, course(s), or attend/present at a conference, etc) 
  • Technology to be used in teaching your class(es)
  • Funding graduate or undergraduate student(s) to collaborate on your SoTL project
  • Transcribing, captioning, copyediting or other services associated with your project
  • Other related spending associated with your SoTL project or disseminating results

Award funding from this program should not be used as a course buyout.

Three Steps to Get Started


Determine Eligibility

Review the eligibility requirements and the expectations for those who are enrolled in the program. This program takes commitment and a willingness to do the work of SoTL.


Apply to be a Scholar

Applications will be reviewed and Scholars will be notified if they have been accepted by the start of Fall semester. A cohort of 3-5 instructors will be selected by the ETE Faculty Committee to participate. 

Application Questions

Application Review Rubric


Become a Scholar

Scholars will meet with awardees for an initial meeting to discuss content from the Teaching Excellence Scholars Canvas course, and to plan and implement their SoTL project.

We're looking forward to collaborating on a SoTL project.


Bishop-Clark, C., & Dietz-Uhler, B. (2012). Engaging in the scholarship of teaching and learning: A guide to the process, and how to develop a project from start to finish. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Bright, J., Eliahoo, R., & Pokorny, H. (2016). Professional Development. In H. Pokorny & D. Warren (Eds.), Enhancing Teaching Practice in Higher Education (pp. 206-226). Sage.

Felten, Peter. (2013). Principles of good practice in SoTL. Teachng & Learning Inquiry: The ISSOTL Journal, 1(1), 121-125. Retrieved from 

Program Contact

Travis N Thurston, PhD
Director of Teaching Excellence
Office of the Provost and Chief Academic Officer

2020 Scholars

  • Jocelyn Cuthbert - "My SOTL project was a curriculum assessment of the ADVS department's biotechnology emphasis, with a focus on aligning perspectives from students, faculty, alumni, and potential employers in industry."
  • Julia Gossard -"Through interviews with students, I am researching how high-impact learning practices like Reacting to the Past impacted honors students’ perceptions of their learning and their later civic engagement (such as voting, political advocacy, etc) outside of class."
  • Karin deJonge-Kannan -"I'm investigating whether students who complete my course ‘Language and Religion’ feel better prepared for interreligious conversations than they did at the beginning of the semester."
  • Lianne Wappett -"My SoTL research seeks to understand the results of detailed rubrics that reduce instructor feedback fatigue while providing clear and specific areas for student improvement."
  • Shawn Miller - "I'm examining the effects of an online homework system on student self-efficacy when interpreting and drawing molecules."
  • Timothy Chenette -"I came in having published about teaching in my discipline, but have found the discussions of methods and learning theories have immensely enriched and strengthened the things I already knew."
  • Sarah Tulane- "I am expanding on past research to gain more information on specific elements in a social science research methods course that assist students with finding more relevance in research."