Among the methods that have been adopted and adapted by SOTL researchers:

  • Case Study: An in-depth description and analysis that might employ a variety of quantitative and qualitative approaches in the study of a single case.
  • Classroom Ethnography: Applies ethnographic, sociolinguistic and/or discourse analytic research methods to study the behavior, interactions, and "culture" of a classroom; "emphasizes the socio-cultural nature of teaching and learning processes, incorporates participants' perspectives on their own behavior, and offers a holistic analysis sensitive to levels of context in which interactions and classrooms are situated."
  • Discourse Analysis/Textual Analysis: Investigates language use as a reflection of social practices and systems; for example, student texts could be used as evidence of learning or as examples of the cultural narratives constructed within a particular classroom context.
  • Experimental Design: The researcher deliberately changes one or more "process" variables in order to observe or measure the effect of that change on one or more "response" variables; the goal is to rule out other possible variables in order to identify the actual variable that causes the effect.
  • Grounded Theory Research: A qualitative approach from the social sciences which works inductively to derive meaning from data; seeks to develop theories that are "grounded" in data.
  • Longitudinal Research Study: An observational method that consists of gathering data at different points in time either from the same group of people or from a sample group from a particular community.
  • Participatory Action Research: A method by which researchers and those they study enter into a partnership to identify the best way to study a problem and make sure that the results of the research make a difference to those who were studied.
  • Quasi-Experimental Design: Less strictly controlled than a traditional experimental method; makes a comparison between two groups in which one variable is different.
  • Self-Study or Auto-Ethnography: In-depth reflections on one's practices as an educator.
  • Survey Research: Any method that involves asking questions of respondents; it can range from short paper-and-pencil questionnaires to in-depth one-on-one interviews.

This list is far from comprehensive.  Please send additional methods to