University of Wisconsin-Platteville Assistant Professor of art Dr. Tyler Ostergaard is grateful for the opportunity to participate in the 2021-22 Wisconsin Teaching Fellows and Scholars Program after being postponed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ostergaard is one of three UW-Platteville faculty members chosen as teaching fellows. The program supports outstanding educators from across the UW System in pursuing teaching and learning questions emerging from the classroom.
“I’m excited for this fellowship as an opportunity to meet fellow educators across the state and to hear what people are doing in their classes,” said Ostergaard. “[To learn] about things that are and are not working and things instructors are thinking about implementing in their courses to try and improve student learning.”
Throughout the program, participants are guided through the process of completing a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning project. Ostergaard’s project is focused on students’ discussions of scholarly articles.
“It’s something I have incorporated in many of my classes in the past, but always felt there was room for improvement,” he said. “Currently, I’m looking at how student perception of scholarly articles differs from online discussions versus in-class discussions and what can be done to hopefully improve that. I’m trying to ascertain why there is a difference.”
Ostergaard said although the majority of the fellows program is taking place virtually, he’s been pleased by how well things have been going.
“People have been engaged and forthright in their discussions. We’re able to do some things we wouldn’t have been able to do in an in-person conversation,” he said. “I have been reminded of how easy it is to get distracted and tune out during a Zoom.” However, he continued, “When you do engage you are able to get a lot out of it.”
As Ostergaard embarks on his project this summer, he acknowledges how beneficial it is to have in-depth conversations with instructors in various disciplines about how they structure their courses, what choices they’re making and what issues they’re finding. He emphasizes the value of seeing how different classes can be.
“In terms of my own research, it’s helpful thinking about the students I’m talking to because many of my students are gen ed students,” said Ostergaard. “They are coming from other classes and other sets of expectations. I may not be aware of what all their other classes are and those are shaping their expectations of my class. It gives me a better perspective on the student learning environment and what expectations and assumptions they are bringing to class and what assumptions I’m bringing to the courses.”
As Ostergaard continues collaborating with his cohort of teaching fellows, he said it’s important to participate in professional and instructional development opportunities.
“It’s a point to connect us with other educators and is important for UW-Platteville because the vast majority of our faculty are primarily teaching faculty, not research faculty,” said Ostergaard. “It reminds us our teaching is constantly an evolving process, and rather than changing something to see how it goes, we should change something with a delivered purpose and try to measure what we are changing, always with that goal of improving student learning.”
Ostergaard will be recognized at the UW-Platteville faculty and staff convocation on Thursday, Aug. 26.