Ways of Knowing, Ways of Practice

Project Goals

Ways of Knowing and Ways of Practice is a professional development opportunity, an on-line, distance learning experience for faculty and instructional staff during the spring semester of 2003.

We will provide a professional development experience for faculty and in the process, help faculty
  • Engage in reflection and continuous improvement of learning, both their own and their students
  • Facilitate conversations about teaching and learning in the process of building a learning community
  • Facilitate a collaborative learning environment with faculty and peers
  • Build confidence in curriculum development including designing, guiding, and assessing learning
  • Learn with and about technology in the process of improving curriculum
  • Connect teaching and research and bridge the gap between theory and practice
  • Disseminate research and experience related to teaching and learning for adaptation in different contexts

Course Goals

During the experience, faculty will
  • Facilitate challenging conversation about and construct a richer understanding of teaching and learning
  • Use technology to share perspectives and pose provocative questions about issues of teaching and learning in higher education
  • Build an effective learning community
  • Articulate a personal teaching and learning philosophy
  • Propose and make progress on a teaching and learning project

Instructional Technologies

The primary technologies will be WebCT and WisLine Web.

WebCT features will provide asynchronous interactions, including bulletin boards and forums for small group projects, peer reviews, and an on-going dialogue. This Web-based platform will allow participants to interact with other faculty at convenient times. Together, they will discuss teacing and learning issues and share experiences, as well as a specific project.

WisLine Web conferencing will provide synchronous, real-time sessions on a weekly basis. This new medium uses a Web browser and a phone. It combines the ease of a WisLine audio conference call with the power of visually interactive Web-based materials. To participate in the course, faculty members will simply dial in to the phone conference call and point their browsers to the preassigned URL. Students will share results of their “classroom research” on issues such as active learning, misconceptions, teamwork, or service learning (http://www.uwex.edu/ics/wlweb).

Expected Outcomes

Expected outcomes parallel the project goals. Faculty will demonstrate their ability to
  • Reflect on and investigate teaching and learning issues
  • Collaborate, discuss issues, facilitate discussions, design curriculum and presentations
  • Gain confidence in all aspects of curriculum development: designing objectives, methods, and assessment strategies
  • Complete a project that could include conducting “classroom research” and, in so doing, contribute to the scholarship of teaching and learning
  • Bridge the gap between theory and practice; use research as a base for solving their self-identified, real-world teaching and learning issues
  • Learn with and about technology for teaching and learning


Formative Evaluation

The primary purpose of the formative evaluation will be to monitor the adaptation of the courses, so that improvements and adjustments can be made during the courses' development. Feedback from both students and instructors will be included, with ideas of how to better use WebCT and WiscLine Web to foster learning, integrate “classroom research,” and encourage faculty mentors. Data on the ease of use of the tools will be obtained; these data will be used to make modifications in the course. A variety of methods will be utilized, including focus groups of students and faculty, structured observations of the learning environment, and selected interviews with the faculty mentors.

The formative evaluation for the pilot will determine to what extent technology has affected previously identified strengths:

  • interdisciplinary and diverse students, faculty, and program
  • a strong sense of community
  • high-quality teaching and learning
  • contributions to their professional development

Summative Evaluation

The primary purpose of the summative evaluation will be to assess the effects of the use of technology in the courses on the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of the graduate students and faculty members involved in the program. We will build on the existing protocols and strategies and the Carnegie research cited above. We are particularly interested in examining outcomes as we assess the impact of the technology on teaching and learning. Research questions will include

  • How, if at all, technology enhanced student learning about curriculum design
  • How, if at all, technology enhanced faculty and peer mentoring relationships
  • How, if at all, technology enhanced the “classroom research” experience
  • What adaptations, if any, improved student learning
  • How, if at all, and why did instructors change their teaching strategies
  • What happened, intended or unintended, to influence student learning

We will analyze on-line discussions, videotaped microteaching experiences, and course artifacts, including traditional and electronic portfolios. We will also include on-line midsemester and end-of-semester surveys—titled Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALGains)—as a way to measure changes in learning.

Both formative and summative evaluations will provide data for continuous improvement and dissemination of practices for others wishing to replicate these experiences. We intend to use assessment tools we develop in the pilot as we later move from these adapted courses to an entire certificate program available “at a distance.”

Workshop leader

is director of the Engineering Learning Center and adjunct professor of technical communication in the Engineering Professional Development Department in the College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin Madison. An original member of the management team that has organized the Teaching Improvement Program and the New Educators’ Orientation professional development programs, she continues to serve on the local management team for the Foundation Coalition.



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