Planning professional development workshops – An interview with Dr. Beverlie Dietze

EDUC 830
Simon Fraser University – Faculty of Education
MEd Post-Secondary, VCC Cohort
Implementation of Educational Programs
Professor: Dr. Glenn Galy
Student: Kathryn Truant
Date: July 15, 2021

 “Program planning is program planning. There are key principles, and it doesn’t matter which audience: what you will tailor are the examples that you would use”
(B. Dietze, personal interview, June 15, 2021).

Introduction:

Dr. Beverlie Dietze, is the director of Learning and Applied Research (LAR) at Okanagan College (OC). I interviewed her on June 15, 2021 with the intention of learning about the professional development (PD) workshops that her department creates for OC’s educators. The interview was recorded, and is transcribed in its entirety below as per the consent given by Dr. Dietze (note: conversational adverbs are in parenthesis or have been removed for clearness of speech). Further, The Interview portion of this report (my pre-synthesis findings) focuses on the framework of questions outlined in the SFU EDUC 830 Summer 2021 Research Project (Parts 1, 2, and 3). It is a pragmatic preclude to my MEd goal of developing professional development workshops for my department (Certified Dental Assisting) at OC.

LAR’s vision statement is:

The Learning and Applied Research Unit will be the “go to” support service for Okanagan College employees who want to continuously improve their skills and knowledge about teaching, learning, programming, and applied research (Okanagan College, 2021).

Part One – The Interview:

Key: Dr. Dietze’s dialogue is in BLACK, and mine is in BLUE.
            The interview does not follow APA guidelines – it is not double-spaced; references and additional comments are in footnotes. Please note that the footnotes are intended to clarify, and further my own research into planning PD workshops.

Section One – History of LAR’s Professional Development Workshops

Question One:
What lead you to your current role as the director of Learning and Applied Research?
– I have a background in administration, and in teaching in the college system in Ontario. In 2011, I moved to the university system. I was the first director of learning and teaching in the Ontario system, and I spent a significant amount of time studying how adults learn and how curriculum should be developed, and how we take curriculum, and how that informs our program mapping, and how our program mapping supports our actual delivery.
– It’s been an evolutionary process from an educational to a workplace environment.
Do you have a favourite researcher? Was there someone that inspired you to pursue this?
Dr. Patricia Cranton[1] because she was very instrumental in bringing adult education forward, particularly from a Canadian perspective.

And Budd Hall[2], of course, out of UVic was very imperative to adult education.

When I look at researchers now, I certainly think that Glen Jones[3] has brought a significant story to adult education.

And for me, the major part of my career has been in the college system, the whole notion of a learner centred approach with Dr. Terry O’Banion[4] has certainly had a significant impact.

The work that we do, it is all based on the theories of Dewey[5], and Vygotsky, and others.


That’s interesting that you mention Vygotsky[6] because I did some background research on you, and you started out as an early childhood educator, so I can see that path. When I read your department’s mission statement, the word ‘development’ is mentioned often.
– When you look at the evolution of adult education, it started by looking at early childhood education, so that’s where we got into the notion.
– Early childhood is pedagogy. Adult education is andragogy. And then over the last ten years there’s been an amalgamation of andragogy and pedagogy. So, it began historically from early childhood and it’s based on experiential learning.
– Give them a bit of theory, and give them a bit of experience and then, individuals will move it to a curation, and then figure out how it informs their practice.

Question Two:
I am going to focus on LAR’s professional development workshops: Did you establish this program (or was it existing)?
– There had been a director of learning and teaching, and she had been there for two or three years. But it wasn’t established in the way that it is now where we, you know, have very specific workshops. We provide orientation for faculty instructors. We do consultations. That wasn’t the initial model.
It just seems very forward thinking and it’s almost as if you had a crystal ball, because I attended your orientation sessions my first couple years at OC, and it wasn’t until Covid hit that I started actively participating in the PD workshops. It’s like you had some sort of vision or some hindsight because LAR was so well established prior to the pandemic. It looks like you have a great team.
– [nods and smiles].

Question Three:
On the LAR webpage, you talk about piloting a model of developing workshops; was there an event that acted as a catalyst to initiate or expand the program? Obviously, OC recruited you for a reason. But, there must have been some spark or something that indicated to yourself and, also to our institution, that you were going to take LAR to a greater level.
– Right. I think it’s because of my background in teaching and learning, because I had been at other institutions, and I had been a campus principle and a strong advocate for student success. And when you put all those things together, then you know from an institutional perspective they were looking for someone that had both the theory and the theory of the application, the policy elements and they wanted to move the college forward to (really) look at learning-centred student success practices.

Section Two – Current Strategies

Question Four:
Your department offers many engaging workshops – It seems very collaborative – how do you decide which workshops to offer?What is your needs assessment strategy?
– Just to understand how we work as a team, we meet every morning for 30-45 minutes and we’ve been doing this for a year and a half now. So, it is a very, as you identified, a very collaborative team, a team approach, and we collectively look at what are some of the key questions that faculty and instructors are asking. What are some of the key areas that require further development from the perspective of Moodle sites, from the perspective of curriculum? And then we plan the workshops (according to) those elements, so we’re always doing a daily needs analysis in reality.
– We also meet with the deans. I’m at the dean’s table every Thursday, so I hear some of the key pieces that they’re looking at when we think of student success. Again, we’re examining how we are tying universal design[7] principles into our courses. What are we doing as a unit to support educators in looking at universal design?


You know, we’re looking at curriculum design methodology, we are focusing on the backward design[8]. What does it look like? How do we move forward? So, it’s a combination of always examining the research on how individuals learn. Is this the value statement of the college and the unit? What is it we need to do to move forward to support those elements?
– Our needs assessment is looking at the types of requests that we get into the unit from instructors and faculty and using that as one of our ways in which it informs our decisions on the workshops.
– To answer your question, I do have the final say.
I like the ‘backward design’: let’s look at the end and then create how to get there.

Question Five:
Your department has a taxonomy in the programs it develops: Emerging, Evolving, and Mastery. How did you develop these assumptions when considering curriculum? Do you use this taxonomy as a mentorship (follow-up) tool?
– We looked at Lillian Katz[9]. Lilian Katz is a researcher in early childhood education, but what she has contributed to the literature is the actual stages of development of educators. And in those stages, she calls one survival, one is consolidation, one is renewal, and one is maturity, and it’s about a five to seven year span when you look at her stages of development. So, then we looked at those stages of development to say, what does that mean from an adult education perspective? And then we move forward with the three that we have articulated [emerging, evolving, mastery]. Our decisions are always based on research. And always based on, ‘here’s what one researcher said.’ How does this fit with our community? How does this fit with our organization and our overall strategic direction?
I notice when you talk about your stages and the educator’s development, it is a cycle as well. You could be in a comfortable stage, and then suddenly something like the pandemic hits and then you’re right back to being an emerging educator.

Question Six:
How important is learner assessment in the planning process of a workshop?
– If you look at the workshops, the first thing that will happen, or soon into the workshop, the learning outcome[s] will be articulated. So, during this hour, we’re going to talk about this and this and this, and then generally, particularly if I’m facilitating the workshop, the last part of the workshop, I bring up the learning outcomes again, and I say, tell me about whatever the three or four learning outcomes are, and then if the group is able to articulate those, we know that, yes, information has been clarified, and that there has been that opportunity for individuals to curate that and figure out as to how it transfers to their practice.
– The other key piece as a presenter if you’re doing a workshop, you’re presenting the theoretical framework, and then you’re going to ask those core questions. So [for example], if this is what experiential learning means, then how does this play out in a course about child development? Or, how does this play out in putting these chemicals together? Or, how does it play out in placing a filling? Whatever it is that you’re assessing, how are the individuals (actually) taking the information that’s being shared and thinking about it in their realm.

Question Seven:
This semester, I have been studying three approaches to program planning:Conventional, Pragmatic, Radical[10]
Conventional: Grounded in tradition – steps that do not necessarily take evolution into account.
Pragmatic: Practical, real-world, change is a process and the process is fluid – aligns with industry expectations and standards.
Radical: Focus on social activism, democratic principles, and transformation.
Do you consider cultural approaches when you’re planning a workshop; do you have to take any of these approaches into consideration?

– It depends on what the topic is and what the audience is or who the audience is. Like anything, we always first need to identify who the workshop is for. Who do we envision will attend this workshop? We call it the locally appropriate curriculum approach.
– What I would do in the Computer Science program for delivery would not be conducive to your program, so always having to look at who is the audience, and then you pull from the pragmatic and the radical and you should incorporate some of those current pieces. It’s never this way, this way, or this way. For some, we do need to use conventional delivery and conventional approaches; there’s a place for all approaches. And primarily with a good facilitator, they would be drawing on all three approaches to (actually) meet the diversity of the learning community.
I can think of an example when I was at a workshop in the fall. It was an online workshop (of course). The facilitator did a good job reaching out to find what our individual backgrounds were and our reasons for being there. My reasons were different than another educator, and we just had to be patient with our questions. But, in turn, I learned things that I hadn’t considered before from the other educators.

Question Eight:
Collaboration seems to be instrumental in your program planning. How do you consider the ideas and strategies of those individuals in your department that you are overseeing? In other words, how do you model your goals and expectations?
– The other key piece in our [daily unit] meetings, is that we look at new material, and we look at what other institutions are doing. We are always examining the horizon to see what is coming and what to do, what we need to be prepared for, and what skill sets do we need as a team to be able to prepare the institution for what is required.
– For example, if we know that Moodle 3.9[11] is coming, we’re spending a lot of time to determine what kind of training instructors and faculty will need on 3.9. What are the intricacies of 3.9 in comparison to what we have now? It’s a very continuous learning approach. I guess that’s the best way to articulate it.

Question Nine:
How successful have your PD workshops been? Prior to COVID? During the pandemic?
– We didn’t do as many workshops prior to the pandemic; we were building the team, but since the pandemic, or a lot over the last year and a half, we have had more than 800 people participate in the workshops. It’s a very significant number. And we do many consultations with individual educators and departments.
It’s a very robust department now, with very few resources. The team works extremely hard to support faculty and instructors.

Question Ten:
Do you tailor your workshops when considering the educators at OC: ‘Vocational’ vs ‘Academic’? (this question is an iteration of Question 7)
– Again, it depends on what the topic is. Program planning is program planning. There are key principles, and it doesn’t matter which audience: what you will tailor are the examples that you would use. So, if I were working with a group of instructors with trades, I would be using examples conducive to trades. If it’s a combination of trades or maybe it’s Science and Technology, then again, I would be tailoring it for there. What is key, is always look at your learning outcomes. Your learning outcomes drive your content, your delivery, and your assessment.

Section Three – What’s in Store in the Future?

Question Eleven:
Are there plans to re-implement face to face components in LAR’s PD workshops?
– We will always follow public health and depend on what Dr. Henry identifies, then we will move forward and act accordingly. We are very hopeful that in August our annual Planting the Seeds[12] two-day event will be face to face, but if not, we will do it virtually [again].
– We also know that many instructors and faculty like the blended learning approach. We will reach out to the constituents to say: What is it? How is it? Why is it you want to learn in this (particular) way? And, how can we support that happening?
Aside from the Zoom fatigue, students will also complain about sitting in the classroom too long face to face.
– Exactly, it’s all dependent on how the facilitator articulates the curriculum and offers that experiential learning, whether it’s face to face or online.

Question Twelve:
In your opinion, how, or could the PD workshops be improved?
– There’s always room for improvement.
– We look at our teaching and learning strategies. We look at our topics. We look at what is coming next.
– We need to think about the length of the workshops. Is that correct? Is it not correct?
– Why do we attract some instructors and faculty and not others? What is the gap? Why aren’t we having 50 people at a workshop versus 10?
– We also look at how many people we want at a workshop, and why is it better to have 10 rather than 50?[13]
– These are all core questions that we ask, and we evaluate on an ongoing basis.
So, improvement is part of your department’s program planning, and that just all goes back into the meetings and the collaboration and the communication.
– [nods and smiles].

Question Thirteen:
Is there a succession plan in your department, and how do you build sustainability into your PD workshops (I am referring to your department’s vision statement, re: ‘continuous improvement’)?
It sounds like you’re a great leader. With great leaders, even when they’re not there, the “place doesn’t fall apart” (Galy, personal email, June 4, 2021), because they’ve created a legacy. Is that something that you thought about when you built this team?
– One of the key pieces that most people don’t understand with LAR, is that I am the only full-time staff member in that department. [The others] are in seconded positions, so when we look at that, you know it’s a risk factor.
– From a succession planning perspective, yes, I think about it every day. And that’s what keeps me up at night. Because if we don’t have a succession plan and life changes, and we never know when life is going to redefine itself for any of us, then what happens?
Especially all this work? And all this change and all this evolution, and you want to make sure that our institution recognizes it. How do you create a continuum of those efforts?
– There are many places across the college that probably have that same question. What is the succession plan and why is it important? There are some (absolutely) fabulous leaders, and up and coming leaders that would do an amazing job with LAR. I think internally, there are some great people to tap on the shoulder, and we like that they’re involved, so if there is a need for succession planning, the college has some people to choose from.
[END OF INTERVIEW]

Part Two – Analysis & Synthesis:

I highlight several critically important conceptual aspects that emerged during the interview that relate to program implementation and change management. I will focus on these concepts to assist me as an aspiring professional development workshop planner as I decipher and customize Caffarella & Daffron’s “Checklist for Planning Programs” (2021, pp. 447-449). One important question that I neglected to ask Dr. Dietze regarding the LAR department is whether it (the department itself) or the workshops and programs are formally evaluated. The fact that the courses are well-attended is a measure of success, but I am curious to know if a formal internal or external evaluation is carried out, and if so, how often. The weekly dean’s meeting indicates that LAR answers to the institution. I will follow up with Dr. Dietze regarding formal evaluation. Here are my findings:
– Dr. Dietze’s leadership approach focuses on a collaborative team. There is shared decision making on every level. Her leadership style reminds me of Phillip’s Gruner’s[14] (2021) because:
– She is a task-oriented leader: This approach is conventional & pragmatic and employs SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-based (Galy, 2021).
– She is a transformational leader: This approach is pragmatic and radical (conventional methods are applied when required). She inspires and intrinsically motivates her team to innovate and create change to advance the organization’s future, she is future focused, has strong communication skills, and has a clear vision that aligns with LAR’s mission statement (Galy, 2021).
– Like Phillip Gruner (2021), Dr. Dietze has the final say, and her team responds accordingly.
– The team meets every day to check-in, brainstorm, discuss what worked/didn’t work, look at current research, look at what is ‘on the horizon’. It is literally a daily needs analysis. For example, the LAR unit discovered that since the pandemic, many instructors and faculty like the blended learning approach.
– Instructional strategies are important but always consider outcomes first, and plan your program backwards from there. Your learning outcomes drive your content, your delivery, and your assessment. Incorporating assessment into every workshop – a transfer of learning (TOL) plan (Gibbons-Smyth, Propp & Truant, 2021) – ensures that the workshops outcome’s transfers to their practice.
– Context is defined as “the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed” (OED, 2021). It is apparent that the LAR unit considers and intertwines culture and context: who are the constituents (stakeholders), and what is the gap (required knowledge skills and attitudes)? How does this fit with our community? How does this fit with our organization and our overall strategic direction?

– Dalya Israel[15] argues the there are three aspects of contextual program planning – consistency, communication, and transparency, but most important: a program must meet the community it serves “where they are at” (2021). It is also crucial to develop a strategic cultural framework that learners identify with and recognize (Ali, Jefford & Pierre, 2021). Dr Dietze’s team calls it the locally appropriate curriculum approach.
– Effective program implementation is possible even with limited (financial) resources. It can be robust provided there is good leadership and a collaborative and talented team. It’s a very robust department now, with very few resources. McCalman, Paton, and Siebert argue that “technology has played a major role in ensuring that a coherent business approach and managerial performance can be maintained from a reduced resource base . . . maximizing the return [a department] receive[s] from their accumulated knowledge base – their human capital” (2016, p. 18). In Dalya Israel’s words, “come up with an idea of how to improve services, then research how to resource it” (2021). Phillip Gruner emphasizes the need to run any program “like a business” (2021). Desmarais, Smith, and Zelitt summarize that group success guarantors depends on shared “perception, commitment, and involvement” (2021).

So, how does Dr. Dietze put together a strong and committed team? Human capital is the unit’s greatest resource. Northouse explains that “by learning what constitutes excellent teams and applying these criteria to team performance, leaders [like Dr. Dietze, Dalya Israel, and Phillip Gruner] can learn how to better lead teams to the highest level of excellence” (2013, p. 305). Leaders who motivate, grant autonomy and trust at every level of an organization (Peacock, 2021), and recognize and foster strengths, will have teams rich in human capital. Jones, George, Haddad, and Rock call this “prosocially motivated behaviour” (2013, p. 218): where talented people who are intrinsically motivated because of their talent, and extrinsically motivated by their leader perform at the highest level. Daniel Pink believes that talented people thrive on autonomy: “for them it’s all about craftsmanship” (2009, p. 85), and the satisfaction of having the freedom to perform at their full capacity.

Recommendations:

Dr. Dietze’s leadership approach fosters future leaders – and builds a team of talented individuals, but there is no clear or formal sustainability plan. My recommendation for LAR would be to establish a formal sustainability plan. I do not think that it is enough to have a talented team. Human capital is important, however, without a plan for sustainability, talent may not be enough for effective continuum. Dr. Dietze herself, after my final question, identified sustainability as a risk factor in her department.

Conclusion:

Lacking a formal sustainability plan notwithstanding; under Dr. Beverlie Dietze’s leadership, the Learning and Applied Research department at Okanagan College aligns with the ‘critical’ components outlined in Caffarella & Daffron:

Although planners choose to use only selected components of the Interactive Model of Program Planning, there are some components that are essential to most planning processes. These critical components are: discerning the context,            identifying program ideas, developing clear program goals and objectives, designing instructional plans, devising transfer-of-learning plans, and formulating evaluation plans (2021, p. 40).

I argue that Dr. Beverlie Dietze is in Lillian Katz’s maturity stage of development as an educator (ECAP Collaborative, n. d.). Even through the pandemic, the LAR team maintained their vision[16], and continued to meet or exceed the needs of the community they serve.


Footnotes:

[1] Dr. Patricia Cranton (late) is a prominent voice in the field of adult education. As a scholar at leading universities across Canada and in the US, she wrote widely on transformative learning, a system that exposes students to alternative viewpoints, potentially shifting how they see the world. Her work led to the development of tools that help teachers tailor individual learning plans for a wide range of adult learners, from professionals to those seeking re-training. Dr. Cranton was awarded the Order of Canada in 2015 for her contributions to the field of Adult Education, as an authority on transformative learning who encourages critical and autonomous thinking. (Retrieved from The Governor General of Canada, 2021).

[2] Dr. Budd Hall currently works at the School of Public Administration at the University of Victoria. He is a  co-Chair in UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), and Chair in Community Based Research (CBR) and Social Responsibility in Higher Education. Dr. Hall does research in Sociological Theory, Adult Education and Higher Education (Retrieved from the University of Victoria, 2021).

[3] Dr. Glen Jones is a professor and Dean (Ontario Institute for Studies and Education – OISE) at the University of Toronto’s Leadership, Higher and Adult Education and Centre for the Study of Canadian and International Higher Education departments. His current research focuses on policy and politics of higher education in Canada (Retrieved from the University of Toronto, 2021).

[4] Dr. Terry O’Banion has worked in the community college field for six decades. He is an expert in the areas of leadership, innovation, learning and student success. Dr. O’Banion has authored 17 books and more than 200 articles, consulted at more than 1,000 community colleges and has been recognized by five national awards established in his name (Retrieved from Kent State University, 2020).

[5] Dr. John Dewey (late) is one of the primary figures associated with the philosophy of pragmatism (Retrieved from Wikipedia, 2021).

[6] Dr. Lev Vygotsky (late) is known for his concept of the zone of proximal development (ZPD): the distance between what a student (apprentice, new employee, etc.) can do on their own, and what they can accomplish with the support of someone more knowledgeable about the activity (Retrieved form Wikipedia, 2021).

[7] Universal design (UDL) is an educational framework based on research in the learning sciences that guides the development of flexible learning environments and learning spaces that can accommodate individual learning differences (Retrieved from UDL – Supporting Diversity in BC Schools, 2021).

[8] The backward design model, starts by identifying learning outcomes and assessment methods, rather than beginning the course development process by designing instructional strategies (Retrieved from Western Washington University, 2021).

[9] Dr. Lillian Katz is a professor emeritus of early childhood education at the University of Illinois. Part of her work focuses on the developmental stages of a teacher (Retrieved from ECAP Collaborative, n.d.).

[10] The 3 approaches of program planning: from Planning Programs for Adult Learners – A Practical Guide (Caffarella & Daffron, 2021).

[11] Moodle is OC’s Learning Management System (LMS). An LMS is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, automation, delivery, and assessment of educational courses, training programs, or learning and development programs. There are hundreds of LMS platforms discrete to each learning institution. For example, SFU’s LMS is Canvas.

[12] Planting the Seeds is an annual orientation event at OC for all new and returning staff, which takes place prior to the Fall semester.

[13] OC offers the same workshop multiple times to accommodate smaller sessions.

[14] Phillip Gruner is the CEO of Vernon Immigrant Services (VDICSS).

[15] Dalya Israel is the executive director of  WAVAW (Woman Against Violence Against Women). WAVAW’s primary purpose is a rape crisis centre – they provide support services to survivors of sexualized violence.

[16] Vision statement reiterated: The Learning and Applied Research Unit will be the “go to” support service for Okanagan College employees who want to continuously improve their skills and knowledge about teaching, learning, programming, and applied research.

References:

Ali, K., Jefford, K. Pierre, L. (2021, June 5). Weekend 2: EDUC830. Discerning Context [Class presentation]. Simon Fraser University. Faculty of Education. MEd Curriculum and Instruction Post-Secondary.

Daffron, S. R., & Caffarella, R. S. (2021). Planning programs for adult learners – A practical guide (4th ed.). Hoboken: Jossey-Bass.

Desmarais, A., Smith., K., Zelitt, S. (2021, June 19). Weekend 3: EDUC830. Group Success Guarantors [Class presentation]. Simon Fraser University. Faculty of Education. MEd Curriculum and Instruction Post-Secondary.

ECAP Collective. (n. d.). Lillian Katz. The University of Illinois. Retrieved from
http://ecap.crc.illinois.edu/pubs/katz-dev-stages/

Galy, G. (2021, May 19). Week 3: EDUC830 [Lecture videos]. Simon Fraser University. Faculty of Education. MEd Curriculum and Instruction Post-Secondary.

Gibbons-Smyth, J., Propp, T., Truant, K. (2021, June 5). Weekend 2: EDUC830. Transfer of Learning Plans [Class presentation]. Simon Fraser University. Faculty of Education. MEd Curriculum and Instruction Post-Secondary.

Gruner, P. (2021, June 12). Weekend 3: EDUC830. Welcome to a chat about change [Guest presentation]. Simon Fraser University. Faculty of Education. MEd Curriculum and Instruction Post-Secondary.

Israel, D. (2021, June 5). Weekend: 2 EDUC830 [Guest presentation]. Simon Fraser University. Faculty of Education. MEd Curriculum and Instruction Post-Secondary.

Jones, G. R., George, J. M., Haddad, J. W., & Rock, M. (2013). Essentials of contemporary management (4th Canadian ed.). Whitby: McGraw Hill Ryerson.

McCalman, J., Paton, R. A., & Siebert, S. (2016). Change management – A guide to effective implementation (4th ed.). Los Angeles: Sage.

Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership – Theory and practice (6th ed.). New Delhi: Sage.

Okanagan College. (2021). Learning and applied research. Okanagan College. Retrieved from
https://www.okanagan.bc.ca/learning-and-applied-research

OED. (2021). Context. Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press.

Peacock, A. (2021, July 3). Weekend 4: EDUC830. Beyond the conversation [Guest presentation]. Simon Fraser University. Faculty of Education. MEd Curriculum and Instruction Post-Secondary.

Pink, D. (2009). Drive – The surprising truth about what motivates us. New York: Riverhead.