By Jim Biros
SUPERIOR, Wis. – University of Wisconsin-Superior faculty Joshua Stangle and Jennifer Vogler are among the University of Wisconsin System 2023–2024 Wisconsin Teaching Fellows & Scholars.
The Wisconsin Teaching Fellows & Scholars is one of three signature programs offered by the UW System’s Office of Professional and Instructional Development (OPID). OPID supports UW System's 13 Centers for Teaching and Learning in fostering a culture of teaching and learning excellence in Wisconsin. Together they offer professional development programs that ensure student learning in face-to-face, online, and blended learning environments. Fay Akindes is OPID Director.
“It is truly an honor to be participating in the UW System’s 2023-2024 Wisconsin Teaching Fellows & Scholars program,” said Vogler, Department of Education assistant professor. “I am thankful for the opportunity to represent the University of Wisconsin-Superior.”
This year’s program participants come from the UW System’s 11 comprehensive universities and UW-Milwaukee. Wisconsin Teaching Fellows & Scholars must demonstrate excellent teaching skills and have a curiosity about student learning to be nominated by provosts.
“One of the things I love about UW-Superior – and the UW System for that matter – is the commitment to Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL),” said Stangle, Math and Computer Science Department assistant professor. “Here at UWS, we have a yearly program for SoTL scholars, in which I've participated twice in 2019 and 2021. To be recognized as a Wisconsin Teaching Scholar means the UW System is investing in my vision for the future of teaching and learning in Wisconsin, and that they believe in the work I have already done. I appreciate the time, funding, and trust they are giving me to design and follow-through on a project within my own classroom. So, not only does it feel like recognition of my past work here at UWS, but also my potential for pushing our university and system forward.
The yearlong program begins in mid-June and will culminate with a research presentation at the annual Spring Conference on Teaching and Learning in Madison.
“I am looking forward to learning more about the teaching approaches and practices that impact student learning at the higher education level through my research proposal,” said Vogler. “Working with recipients from other University of Wisconsin systems in the state has been a pleasure. I am planning to conduct research on what structures most impact a sense of belonging in an asynchronous online learning environment with a specific focus on discussion question formats in the graduate level courses I teach.”
The program provides UW faculty and teaching academic staff a unique opportunity to collaborate with other exceptional teachers from across the UW System and from various disciplines. In addition to discussing influential literature, participants are guided through systematic research focused on improving student learning through a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) project, the 23rd year of using this format.
“I believe the research I am proposing will contribute to enhancing the sense of belonging in the courses I instruct,” said Vogler. “I will learn what instructional strategies, in addition to what personal interactions I have with students, develop a sense of belonging within an online learning environment for them. I will focus on the discussion question formats conducted in these asynchronous classes. I am hopeful that the information learned will contribute to an increase in pedagogy methods used in the discussion question format in these master’s level courses. The results of these findings will provide information on patterns, which could be perceived as inequity in student outcomes in this instructional component of the online course/s. The time taken to examine the opportunity for providing equity in this context of the master’s program and courses will contribute to the transformations needed to enhance these learning environments, which will help meet the needs of students in these courses.”
“UWS really values SoTL,” said Stangle. “I have been consistently impressed with how much value the university sees in our own investigation of our teaching methodology. This is not standard across all institutions, and it makes UWS a really special place to be a faculty member. Being at a small school has its difficulties, but I wouldn't trade anything for the clear and repeated support for SoTL as honest-to-goodness scholarship by UWS administration.”