Theory in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) is the conceptual basis for the practice of SoTL—or, more precisely, the conceptual bases for the practices of SoTL—as well as the bodies of knowledge, methodological assumptions, and explanations of phenomena that are deployed (explicitly or implicitly) from a range of contexts within SoTL. Put another way, theory is thinking on a meta level, a metacognitive move in which practitioners become aware, critical, and intentional of how and why they are doing their practice. It involves taking stock of the existing conversations to move beyond definitions, to critically evaluate gaps and limitations, and to maintain forward momentum in the field.
Chick, Nancy L. (2019). "Theory and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Inquiry and Practice with Intention." In Mallon, Melissa, Lauren Hays, Cara Bradley, Rhonda Huisman, and Jackie Belanger (eds), The Grounded Instruction Librarian: Participating in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Atlanta, GA: ALA. Pages 55-64.
The Grounded Instruction Librarian: Participating in The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning