Technical data

New research brief highlights ways Wisconsin tech colleges are pushing in the wake of the pandemic

September 28, 2022

Providing thoughtful, data-driven support services and continued flexibility for faculty, staff, and students will be keys to success for Wisconsin technical colleges as they emerge from the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. according to new UW-Madison research results.

The findings were presented in a new research note released this month Crisis as Catalyst for Change and Innovation (CCCI) Projecthosted at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER).

The analysis is drawn from nearly 80 interviews with educators in various roles in the Wisconsin technical college system, conducted from January to July 2022. It presents several recommendations for creating and sustaining “humanizing and equitable” technical education.

These recommendations include:

  • Maintain flexibilities such as online courses for students, remote work for faculty and staff, and release time for faculty involved in available DEI initiatives.
  • Recognize the challenges of recent years and provide faculty with spaces for conversation and connection about these challenges.
  • Collect data on student needs to make informed decisions about new service offerings.

The CCCI research project, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and is set to last until May 2024, is led by Xueli Wang. Wang is the Barbara and Glenn Thompson Endowed Professor in Educational Leadership and Professor of Graduate Education in the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (ELPA).

Turina Bakken and Mary Ellen Kraus of Madison College are co-principal investigators. Also part of the team are WCER researchers Kelly Wickersham, Amy Prevost and ELPA PhD students Xiwei Zhu, Ayse Okur, Peiwen Zheng, Nicole Contreras-Garcia and Maria Widmer.

Projects first research note, which was published last fall, described the ways in which technical colleges in Wisconsin adapted to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new dossier deepens the examination of these adaptations.

“We recognized that challenges persist as the pandemic continues to loom,” the new brief states. “To search for credible and promising solutions, we delved into the experiences of institutional leaders, administrators, faculty, and staff as they engage in adaptations and innovations.”

Some of these adaptations included creative use of technology, such as virtual reality for healthcare courses, and integrating technology training into courses to ensure students are able to use new tools needed for learning in remote environments.

Read the full research dossier here.