Going to LA? Don’t forget to sign up for CAA’s SoTL Bootcamp!

Effective pedagogy demands creativity, experimentation, and ongoing evaluation of teaching practice. Applying our scholarly skills to investigate these efforts can demonstrate the value of the time and energy we spend in the classroom.  

Learn to produce and publish scholarship on your questions of teaching and learning in art history, reflect on your pedagogical interests with peers and mentors, and build your network of new colleagues, collaborators, and friends!


In conjunction with this year’s CAA Annual Conference, the organization’s Education Committee has planned a one-day unconference on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). Scheduled for Saturday, February 24 at Taper Hall at the University of Southern California, this all-day “SoTL Bootcamp” is free, thanks to support from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the Association of Art Historians of Southern California, the University of Southern California, and CAA.  

Participation will be limited, so advanced registration is required.

Visit the  SoTL Bootcamp website for program details and to propose session topics.  

This professional development opportunity responds to a Kress-funded AHTR study in 2015 which found most art historians lack knowledge of SoTL methods and practice. Pedagogical discourse in the discipline has traditionally comprised brief notes, personal reflections, roundtable discussions, or descriptions of instructional techniques and assignments like those often seen on the AHTR Weekly. For SoTL to gain acceptance as a robust area of art historical inquiry, faculty must understand how to develop anecdotal sharing into strong evidence-based studies that address substantive problems of teaching and learning in the field.  (See this blog post on this subject)

Faculty must also have institutional support to engage in this important work, which CAA is glad to provide. This year’s SoTL Bootcamp is modeled on THATCampCAA, a series of pre-conference workshops held in conjunction with the Annual Conference from 2013-2015. THATCampCAA served to educate and support faculty interested in digital art history (DAH), and helped validate it as an emerging field in the discipline to the extent that DAH topics are now integrated within the primary programming of the Conference, and with the additional development of scholarly guidelines for DAH, CAA has helped ensure both rigorous DAH research practices and disciplinary recognition of the scholarly contribution of DAH. The Education Committee believes that this model might work similarly to promote SoTL among the membership.  

The goal of the SoTL Boot Camp is to provide faculty–art historians, as well as those in studio-based disciplines– a clear introduction to the field of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. This relatively new academic field was born in the 1990s at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. It encourages faculty to bring a scholarly lens to teaching in higher education by investigating questions about student learning and how it can be improved with the same curiosity and rigor they apply to other research topics in their discipline. SoTL encourages systematic analysis of evidence, often gathered through multiple qualitative and/or quantitative research methods.

While SoTL’s objectives center on improving student learning, its development responds to a broader call for greater accountability in higher education, and it can serve an important advocacy role by highlighting the value of discipline-based instruction, especially in art history which is often criticized as esoteric. Providing faculty this professional development thus supports effective pedagogy and rigorous scholarship in teaching and learning that can advance art and art history in the future.  virginia.spivey@gmail.com

For additional information, see the SoTL Bootcamp website, or contact virginia.spivey[at]gmail[dot]com.

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