Matthew T. Hora

Matthew T. Hora
University of Wisconsin–Madison | UW · Department of Liberal Arts and Applied Studies

PhD Learning Sciences, Educational Psychology UW-Madison

About

57
Publications
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Introduction
My research is situated in the fields of applied anthropology, the learning sciences, and education policy. In my current work I am addressing three questions: (1) What is the purpose of higher education in the early 21st century? (2) How can we best design learning environments that facilitate the acquisition of disciplinary content and transferable skills? and (3) How can insights about how adults learn be applied to instructional design? For more information see: http://www.matthewhora.com

Publications

Publications (57)
Article
Full-text available
One of the problematic features of the “skills discourse” is the view that skills are decontextualized bits of knowledge and disposition. Instead, how skills such as communication are defined and used are shaped by cultural, political, and situational factors. In this article, we integrate theory from communication studies, critical discourse analy...
Article
In this research article, Ross J. Benbow and Matthew T. Hora explore the employability narrative, a view that focuses on whether colleges and universities provide students with the skills they need to be productively employed after graduation. Using sociocultural theory to problematize this narrative and qualitative methods to fore-ground the exper...
Article
Purpose: Community and technical college student employability is a pressing concern in the United States and China. Policy makers focus on developing students’ human capital in the form of credentials and cognitive skills. However, the focus on completion overlooks the role that noncognitive skills and contextual factors may play in student employ...
Article
While researchers have examined how disciplinary and departmental cultures influence instructional practices in higher education, there has yet to be an examination of this relationship at the embodied level of culture. In this article we utilize cultural models theory to examine the theories of student learning and teaching practice espoused and e...
Article
Industry experience is widely viewed as an important requirement for community college teachers, as it may provide instructors with insights on how to teach important workplace “soft” skills. In this chapter, we discuss a study exploring this issue and why industry experience alone is insufficient preparation for effective skills-focused teaching.
Article
Many white-collar workplaces have changed substantially because of the pandemic. This paper examines how the rise of technology-based distributed work arrangements impacts on the knowledge, skills and competencies that higher education graduates must possess to be successful in post-pandemic white-collar work environments. In addition, this paper e...
Article
Background Postsecondary institutions are expected to provide students with skills such as communication that are considered essential for success in school, work, and society. However, faculty are rarely trained to design courses that emphasize complex, cultural skills like communication, highlighting the need for professional development that ado...
Article
In the field of network administration and programming, mastery of technical skills as well as non-technical or soft skills, such as teamwork, problem-solving, self-regulated learning, and communication, are increasingly emphasized both in practice and research. While little research exists concerning the instructional practices of such skills with...
Article
While educators and policymakers increasingly link the ‘21st-century’ skills of communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and self-directed learning to graduate success in important high-technology industries, few studies look at how technological college faculty – who are expected to help instil these important skills in students – learn to better...
Article
Full-text available
Internships are widely promoted as a "high-impact" practice, yet the literature is limited by insufficient attention to the impacts of program format on student outcomes. In this mixed-methods study survey (n=1,129) and focus group (n=57) data from students in three U.S. colleges were analyzed using inductive thematic analysis, chi-square, and hier...
Article
Full-text available
With the rising price of college and anxiety about graduates’ job prospects, the employability of graduates is a dominant narrative shaping postsecondary policy and practice around the world. Yet, completion and the acquisition of a credential alone do not guarantee employment, and research on hiring reveals its subjective aspects, particularly whe...
Article
Full-text available
At a time when colleges and universities are anxious to prove that their graduates are employable, internships are being increasingly touted as valuable ‘high-impact’ practices. However, how students themselves conceptualise internships is poorly understood, which inhibits the inclusion of their voices in the employability discourse and considerati...
Article
Purpose Campus career services are increasingly scrutinized as the primary career development resource for undergraduates. The purpose of this paper is to use Career Construction Theory to examine all sources of career information used by undergraduate business students and their contributions toward career exploration and development. Design/meth...
Technical Report
This report includes preliminary findings from the first round of data collection for The College Internship Study, which is a mixed-methods longitudinal study of internship programs at Claflin University. This report concludes with recommendations for specific steps that students, faculty and staff at Claflin University, and employers who supervis...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Existing research on the effectiveness of college career services centers (CSCs) has primarily focused on students’ rates of utilization and their satisfaction with the programs and services offered. Based on survey (n = 372) and focus group data (n = 35) from undergraduate business students, we found that participants were most satisfied with the...
Article
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 form...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The employability of college students is one of postsecondary education’s most pressing concerns in the United States and China, especially when it comes to the possible over-production of bachelor’s trained students and “skills gaps” where jobs go unfilled due to inadequately prepared graduates. In response, policymakers are focusing on developing...
Article
Full-text available
BackgroundA growing body of research in cognitive psychology and education research is illuminating which study strategies are effective for optimal learning, but little descriptive research focuses on how undergraduate students in STEM courses actually study in real-world settings. Using a practice-based approach informed by situated cognition the...
Book
For a recent Q&A see: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/10/26/authors-discuss-new-book-challenging-narrative-about-colleges-and-skills-gap How can educators ensure that young people who attain a postsecondary credential are adequately prepared for the future? Matthew T. Hora and his colleagues explain that the answer is not simply that stud...
Article
Full-text available
Despite an increasing focus on the quality of teaching in postsecondary institutions, little research exists that examines how faculty actually plan their courses in real-world settings. In this study the idea of the “problem space” from cognitive science is used to examine how faculty construct mental representations for the task of planning under...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The nature of the “skills gap” in Wisconsin was examined through interviews with 141 employers and educators. Results highlight the importance of both technical and non-cognitive competencies for success in the workplace. To ensure students and workers acquire needed skills, policymakers should support high-quality teaching and training; recognize...
Article
Detailed accounts of teaching can shed light on the nature and prevalence of active learning, yet common approaches reduce teaching to unidimensional descriptors or binary categorizations. In this paper, I use the instructional systems-of-practice framework and the Teaching Dimensions Observation Protocol (TDOP) to advance an approach to thinking a...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Policymakers and educators are increasingly expressing concerns that the U.S. is lagging behind other countries in educating the next generation of mathematicians and scientists. In response, the federal government, private foundations, and many institutions of higher education (IHEs) are encouraging STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math...
Article
https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2015/03/16/essay-criticizes-focus-vocational-training-higher-education-policies-president
Article
Full-text available
Background The field of STEM education is increasingly focusing on processes of individual, cultural, and organization-level change in postsecondary institutions, yet current approaches tend to focus on individual leverage points isolated from other factors and the broader institutional context. Research on reform implementation highlights how ind...
Article
Full-text available
While researchers have examined how disciplinary and departmental cultures influence instructional practices in higher education, there has yet to be an examination of this relationship at the embodied level of culture. In this article we utilize cultural models theory to examine the theories of student learning and teaching practice espoused and e...
Article
Full-text available
This study utilizes theory from situated cognition to investigate faculty beliefs about student learning and their influence on teaching decisions. Results of interviews with and observations of 56 science and math faculty found that the two most common beliefs are: (a) students learn best through repeated practice, and (b) students have different...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Given the considerable challenges with implementing data driven decision-making systems, researchers focus on describing data practices in real-world settings. Yet, little is known about how postsecondary faculty think about and utilize data as part of their instructional practice. In this qualitative field-based study, we interviewed 59 faculty an...
Article
Full-text available
Freeman et al. (1) make a valuable contribution to the field of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in their meta-analysis. However, instead of ceasing to include lecturing as an experimental condition because of its proven inadequacy, I argue that lecturing as it is currently conceptualized be discontinued because it...
Article
Analyses of postsecondary teaching are limited by overly blunt measures that focus on regularly used teaching methods (e.g., lecturing) while ignoring other important dimensions of classroom practice. This is important because these flawed measures of teaching are being used as a central feature of the national discourse on science and math educat...
Technical Report
Full-text available
KEY FINDINGS: 1. Estimates of STEM jobs in the United States vary from 5.4 million to 26 million, depending on which occupations are included under the STEM umbrella and how occupations are defined. This results in wildly disparate projections for jobs, wages, and required education for what may appear to be a single cluster of occupations (i.e., S...
Article
Instructional technology plays a key role in many teaching reform efforts at the postsecondary level, yet evidence suggests that faculty adopt these technology-based innovations in a slow and inconsistent fashion. A key to improving these efforts is to understand local practice and use these insights to design more locally attuned interventions. Th...
Article
Full-text available
An oft-cited maxim in higher education is that “faculty teach the way they were taught” because they receive little formal training in teaching before entering the classroom. However, little is known about the origins of faculty knowledge about teaching or the role their prior experiences play in the development of their teaching practices. In this...
Article
Descriptions of faculty practice that illuminate nuances of how course planning and classroom instruction occur in specific contexts are important to inform pedagogical interventions. The study reported in this article draws on systems-of-practice theory to focus on the dynamic interplay among actors, artifacts, and tasks that constrains activities...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Classroom observation is a method of directly observing teaching practice as it unfolds in real time, with the observer or analyst taking notes and/or coding instructional behaviors in the classroom or from videoed lessons. In postsecondary settings, instruments for conducting classroom observations are typically less well developed in terms of psy...
Article
Full-text available
Given the limited adoption of research-based teaching methods at the postsecondary level, research is necessary that examines why faculty choose to teach the way they do. In this article, I draw on insights from research on teacher cognition and naturalistic decision-making research to identify how perceptions of organizational factors influence in...
Article
Full-text available
Normative expectations for acceptable behaviors related to undergraduate instruction are known to exist within academic settings. Yet few studies have examined disciplinary variation in norms for interactive teaching, and their relationship to teaching practice, particularly from a cognitive perspective. This study examines these problems using sur...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The antecedents of faculty self-efficacy beliefs for teaching undergraduates are examined using thematic analysis of interview data (n=56) and structural equation modeling of survey data (n=436). Results indicate that many instructors have ambiguous self-efficacy beliefs, and that pedagogical reflection is a significant antecedent to these beliefs...
Technical Report
This qualitative case study reports on processes and outcomes of the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded System-Wide Change for All Learners and Educators (SCALE) project at the California State University, Northridge (CSUN). It addresses a critical challenge in studying systemic reform in complex organizations: the lack of methodologies that...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This qualitative case study reports on processes and outcomes of the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded System-Wide Change for All Learners and Educators (SCALE) project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison). It addresses a critical challenge in studying systemic reform in complex organizations: the lack of methodologies that in...
Technical Report
This report of the National Science Foundation-funded SCALE Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) Case Studies line of work provides preliminary findings about SCALE activities at the California State University, Northridge (CSUN). This interview-based study (N = 19) includes a descriptive analysis of SCALE activities and an exploratory analysis o...
Article
This article is the result of a project conducted during my tenure with the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). Before my hire, the director of EFNEP had hired a geographic information system (GIS) technician to create a GIS to spatially depict EFNEP clients' accessibility to food resources. By visually representing the relations...
Article
Full-text available
Food and nutrition are public health issues with almost daily media coverage of the latest research breakthrough, diet fad, or epidemic. A particularly pressing issue is the dramatic increase in obesity, with responses ranging from an emphasis on personal responsibility and food labeling in restaurants to the re-location of supermarkets in low-inco...

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Projects (3)
Archived project
Exploring Multiple Postsecondary Opportunities through Workforce and Education Research, or the EMPOWER Project, a 4-year NSF-funded study that will provide a path forward for educators and employers hoping to foster a more proficient and adaptable 21st century workforce. This project explored the degree to which communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and self-directed learning are valued and cultivated in community colleges, universities, and the private sector. http://empower.wceruw.org/#/
Project
The goal of this 4-year collaborative study between UW-Madison and RIT is to document how faculty and workplace trainers think about and teach/train four critical 21st century competencies—communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and self-directed learning—and the socio-technical systems within colleges, universities and companies that shape teaching, training and learning. (http://www.empowerstem.com/#/)
Project
I'm currently in China collecting data for a pilot study on the relationship between their higher education sector's goals and practices, and the needs of local businesses. In Qingdao I'll be visiting a technical college and area businesses interviewing teachers and HR directors, doing classroom observations, and visiting factories. This pilot study is the first step in a comparative research program that will include China, Japan, and South Korea, all with a focus on the STEM disciplines. Other areas of focus include the role of general education/liberal arts training, classroom teaching (i.e., active learning), and the role of culture and politics in shaping these dynamics.