Research News

Study from UW-Madison's Hora, Smolarek published in Journal of Higher Education

March 19, 2018

UW-Madison's Matt Hora and Bailey Smolarek published a new research paper in the Journal of Higher Education titled, "Examining Faculty Reflective Practice: A Call for Critical Awareness and Institutional Support." 

The paper hones in on an often-forgotten key process of data-driven decision-making in education: teachers' reflective practice.

Smolarek and Hora
Bailey Smolarek (left) and ​Matt Hora
In the paper's abstract, Hora and Smolarek write that: "This interview-based study explores the nature of reflective practice among postsecondary faculty by examining the types of teaching-related data faculty use during their reflection, their reflective practice process, and the contextual factors that influence that process. Our findings indicate faculty drew on both numeric and non-numeric data forms to engage in reflective practice which complicates the current imagination of “data” within the Data-Driven Decision Making (DDDM) movement."

The paper adds: "Our findings also showed three distinct types of faculty reflection -- instrumental, structural-critical, and social-critical -- which demonstrate the varied functions and forms reflection can take. Finally, we demonstrate that although faculty consistently engaged in reflective practice, the outcomes of this reflection were severely limited by both individual bias and institutional constraints."

Hora is an assistant professor of adult and higher education in the Department of Liberal Arts and Applied Studies at UW–Madison, and is an affiliate with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. Hora is also a research scientist with WCER, and the director of UW-Madison’s Center for College-Workforce Transitions (CCWT), which is housed within WCER.

Smolarek is a researcher with the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, and earned her Ph.D. from the School of Education's No. 1-ranked Department of Curriculum and Instruction.