Hora, M., Lee, C. (2023). Cultural Scripts for Teaching Transferable Skills: Exploring the Role of Industry Experience and Pedagogical Situations on Skills-Focused Instruction in College Classrooms. Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions. University of Wisconsin–Madison, Division of Continuing Studies.
Abstract: Why do postsecondary faculty teach the way they do, and what predicts their use of particular teaching methods and student engagement strategies in the classroom? Based on research over the last 40 years in both K-12 and postsecondary settings, consensus exists that no single predictor of instructional practice exists, but that a myriad of forces (e.g., individual, socio-cultural, and contextual) interact to shape how an instructor plans and teaches their classes (Shavelson & Stern, 1981; Lattuca & Stark, 2011; Posselt et al., 2020).
In this paper, we address this question by examining the potential role of a specific type of instructor attribute – that of prior experience in non-academic workplaces (hereafter called industry experience) – that is theorized to be associated with students’ acquisition of skills known variously as “soft,” “non-cognitive” or “transferable” (Deming, 2017; Pellegrino & Hilton, 2002). We address how culture is conceptualized in higher education in general, and in studies of faculty teaching in particular, especially the unit of analysis wherein cultural elements reside and then change (or not) over time (Välimaa, 1998). Following a brief exposition of the theoretical and empirical foundations of this approach, we then report findings from an exploratory mixed-methods study where these ideas were explored in the context of teaching in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medical (STEMM) fields. We conclude the paper with an analysis of the implications of these data for faculty development, but also concerns that cultural scripts can encode ideologies and norms antithetical to a liberal, democratic, and equity-oriented education (Cronon, 1988; Harris & Patton, 2019; Urciuoli, 2008).