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Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Mankato

Theories and Concepts

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SoTL Theories

Why should we care about the theories or conceptual frameworks that underlie research on teaching and learning? Think about this: Will we upgrade our houses without understanding their current conditions? Wouldn’t we look to the existing models, materials, mechanics, as well as our budget, to form more specific ideas about the house upgrade? Similarly, for the SoTL research, we would like to look at the current theories and studies to develop more specific ideas about the research questions and research design. By reviewing the literature, we will understand the questions to ask, the variables to consider, and the types of data to gather.

There are many theories and conceptual framework in the SoTL field. Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (1999) described the How People Learn (HPL) model, which became a very well-known meta-framework for teaching and learning. This framework identifies four areas that instruction should include to maximize learning. These are Student, Knowledge, Assessment, and Community.

Virtually all versions of SoTL theories are associated with one or more of the above areas. It is helpful to consider this framework to identify the associated theories when designing the SoTL research. The graph below presents a few examples of SoTL theories using the How People Learn framework.

Framework for SoTL theories

(Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999)

Below you will find the specific theories and/or conceptual frameworks which have been applied to the iSALT projects:

Theories and/or Conceptual Frameworks
Associated iSALT Projects
[PDF] Social Presence Theory (184 KiB)
[PDF] Flow Theory (418 KiB)
[PDF] Social Cognitive Theory (127 KiB)
Student Engagement (forthcoming)
Regulatory Focus Theory (forthcoming)