Presentation Details

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Eleventh International Literacy and Education Research Network Conference on Learning

Instructional Development as "Community" Programming: Using Activity Theory to Examine Departmental Culture

Mary Jae Paul.

Rapid changes in staff needs or circumstances, limited resources, and low attendance can undermine the effects of faculty development initiatives upon overall improvement of teaching quality. Further, since academic environments often vary between institutions as well as departments, transfer of successful programs can often be difficult. Thus, a program that works extremely well in one environment may not thrive at all in another. In this session, I will describe how a conceptual framework called activity theory was used to examine the professional culture and values of a group of instructors for writing-intensive courses within a single department at a large research university. I explore how instructors’ cultural values and professional climate may interact with their perceptions about the aims and purposes of writing instruction. A discussion about the benefits and challenges of using activity theory to examine professional climate will follow, including how activity theory might be used to help create more effective and adaptable instructional development programs.


Mary Jae Paul  (United States)
Continuing and Vocational Education
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Mary Jae Paul is a dissertator in the Continuing and Vocational Education Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research interests lie in understanding what motivates faculty members to pursue teaching development opportunities and finding new ways to enhance the quality of education professors can offer their undergraduates.

  • Activity Theory
  • Instructional Development
  • Departmental Community
  • Academic Culture

(30 min Conference Paper, English)