Higher Education Pedagogy: a Faculty Initiative

A Faculty Initiative

Higher Education Pedagogy

Pedagogy is praxis so it looks to the larger philosophical implications of teaching but starts at the level of practice in the smallest maneuvers — the smallest gestures. How does the first thing we do in a classroom, the first words of our syllabus, the landing page of our course sites, shape the learning environment we’ll work within? Where does the work of pedagogy, the work of teaching and learning, to quote bell hooks, “most deeply and intimately begin”?

Pedagogy is fractal, contained at once in something as large as a course or program and also in something as small as a tweet or the first sentence of a syllabus. The work of teaching well demands our pedagogies be reflective and flexible, not predetermined entirely in advance. Learning can not be reduced to or packaged as a series of static, self-contained content. Rather, learning happens in tangents, diversions, interruptions — in a series of clauses (and parentheticals) … and gaps.

The tools we use for learning, the ones that have become so ubiquitous, each influence what, where, and how we learn — and, even more, how we think about learning. Books. Trackpads. Keyboards. E-books. Databases. Digital archives. Learning management systems. None of these have what we value most about education coded into them in advance. The best digital tools inspire us, often to use them in ways the designer couldn’t anticipate. The worst digital tools attempt to dictate our pedagogies, determining what we can do with them and for whom.

The discussion of digital pedagogy needs to include a critical examination of our tools, what they afford, who they exclude, how they’re monetized, and what pedagogies they might have already baked in. But this examination requires we also begin with a consideration of what we value, the kinds of relationships we want to develop with students, why we gather together in places like universities, and how humans learn.

These are the things this initiative will be about.


A series of discussions about higher education pedagogy, digital and otherwise

What Else

A peer-driven community focused on inventing and developing teaching practices


Open to all interested faculty and staff who consider themselves educators


Sessions will be held every other week throughout Fall 2018 and Spring 2019

$1000 stipend for participation

A $1000 stipend to recognize the value of your time and contributions to our peer-driven faculty development community

• Attend cohort meetings throughout Fall 2018 and Spring 2019
• Partner with our faculty development team to develop a new pedagogical project
• Write a 750-word blog post for our blog about pedagogy, design, and/or implementation of a new teaching project
• Attend or participate on faculty/staff panel in late Spring 2019

Cohort Leaders

Photo of Jesse Stommel, Executive Director of DTLT

Jesse Stommel

Executive Director
Martha Burtis, Director of the Digital Knowledge Center

Martha Burtis

Director of the Digital Knowledge Center
Photo of Sean Michael Morris, Director of Digital Pedagogy Lab

Sean Michael Morris

Director of Digital Learning

Where does the work of pedagogy, the work of teaching and learning, to quote bell hooks, “most deeply and intimately begin”?

A Community of Practice

In Fall 2018 and Spring 2019, the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies will gather together 12 – 15 UMW faculty and staff members for a series of discussions and practical labs to read, watch, and discuss historical, theoretical, and pedagogical foundations for our work in higher education. Our syllabus will be a sort of “desert island discs,” including non-fiction, documentary films, even comics, and ranging from classics (John Dewey, bell hooks, Seymour Papert) to curiosities (Virginia Woolf, Henry David Thoreau) to more contemporary choices (Sara Goldrick Rab, Rafranz Davis, Cathy N. Davidson).

We will meet every other week for two hours throughout the academic year. The trajectory of our conversation will emerge organically. And we’ll continue to co-construct our syllabus as we go. Special guests will join us from time to time, including (fingers crossed) some of the authors we’ll be reading together!

A Continuing Cohort

Open to all faculty and staff at UMW who consider themselves educators — or who are interested in learning and thinking about higher education pedagogy, digital and otherwise. Few higher education faculty receive specific training in pedagogy during their graduate education. This program is, in part, designed to fill that gap, so we particularly invite and encourage newer faculty to join us. However, mentoring and collaboration is so crucial to the work we do at a liberal arts institution like University of Mary Washington, and we rarely get to guard time as teachers to just talk about what we do and why. So, we also strongly encourage more experienced teachers to join us. Our conversations will unearth lots of perspectives, and the deep knowledge of each participant will help us all find new ways forward.

Cohort members will also be encouraged to work closely with the faculty development team in the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies, with support from the re-emerging Center for Teaching and Learning. Together, we will work to connect our cohort with other relevant collaborators across campus. At times we will also invite students working in the Digital Knowledge Center to join our conversations and bring their perspectives, input, and knowledge. We will host a panel in late Spring 2019 to share the fruits of our work together.


Fall 2018

August 27, 2-3:30pm: Introduction
September 10, 2-3:30pm:
November 5, 2-3:30pm
Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, “Introduction,” “Preface,” “Chapter 1,” “Chapter 2”
November 19, 2-3:30pm
Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, “Chapter 3″
Elizabeth Hayes Alvarez, Chronicle of Higher Education, “Fostering Open Communication in a Culturally Diverse Classroom
December 3, 2-3:30pm
Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, “Chapter 4″

Spring 2019

January 16, 2-3:30pm:
Joshua Eyler, How Humans Learn, “Introduction” and “Curiosity”
January 30, 2-3:30pm
Joshua Eyler, How Humans Learn, “Sociality” and “Emotion”
February 13, 2-3:30pm
Joshua Eyler, How Humans Learn, “Authenticity”
February 27, 2-3:30pm
Joshua Eyler, How Humans Learn, “Failure”

March 13, 2-3:30pm

“Critical, Instructional, Design?” by Leslie Madsen
“‘I nevertheless am a historian’: Digital Historical Practice and Malpractice Around Black Confederate Soldiers” by Leslie Madsen
“Universal Design and Its Discontents” by Rick Godden and Jonathan Hsy 

March 27, 2-3:30pm
Henry A. Giroux, “Thinking Dangerously: The Role of Higher Education in Authoritarian Times”
Mitchell, Leachman, and Masterson,“A Lost Decade in Higher Education Funding”
Matthew T. Hora, “Beyond the Skills Gap: How the Vocationalist Framing of Higher Education Undermines Student, Employer, and Societal Interests” 

April 10, 2-3:30pm


April 24, 2-3:30pm


Bethany Thomas, Graphic and Media Designer

Bethany Thomas

Higher Education Fellow

Steve Greenlaw

Higher Education Fellow

Elizabeth Johnson-Young

Higher Education Fellow

Marcel P. Rotter

Higher Education Fellow

Stefanie Chae

Higher Education Fellow

Suzie Kim

Higher Education Fellow

Jerry Slezak

Higher Education Fellow

Jennifer Barry

Higher Education Fellow

Laura Bylenok

Higher Education Fellow

Martha Burtis

Higher Education Fellow

Cartland Berge

Higher Education Fellow

Melissa Wells

Higher Education Fellow
Photo of Jesse Stommel, Executive Director of DTLT

Jesse Stommel

Executive Director