Meet Dr. Gretchen Wilbur…

Gretchen Wilbur is the School for New Learning’s Director of Assessment, an Associate Professor, and an upcoming Faculty Mentor for the MA in Educating Adults (MAEA) program. We asked her if she would share her background and experiences with current and future SNL students.

wordpressWhere are you from and what is your educational background?

I grew up in North Carolina and have lived and worked in England, Tennessee, Michigan, Missouri, and Kansas. I attended North Carolina State University in Raleigh for my B.A. in Psychology and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN for my Ed.D. in Educational Leadership. Currently my home is in Chicago, where I have worked for DePaul for 6 years.           

What is your Area of Expertise/Scope of Work?

My areas of expertise are in Multicultural Education, Reflective Practice, and Assessment. I am especially curious about building cultures of learning in classrooms and organizations. My roles include facilitating the learning of undergraduate and graduate students through teaching, mentoring, and assessment. I also direct the assessment activities at SNL. This includes a variety of things, such as leading the college assessment system, facilitating ongoing improvement, and advocating alternative ways to assess competences and outcomes. I have previously held positions as Professor and Chair of Education Departments, Executive Director of Curriculum for Kansas City, MO School District, and Director of a Regional Equity Center.

Are there any current consulting projects you are working on?

I am a part of several projects that connect my areas of expertise and practice. I work with the Center for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) in prior learning assessment and competence-based education. I also work with universities in Jamaica, Kenya, Italy, and Ireland to implement instructional approaches that promote equity outcomes, integrate technology, and promote intercultural competence-based learning. I have the opportunity to use these experiences to facilitate systems approaches for higher education change and improvement.

Have you received any Distinctions/Awards while at DePaul?

While at DePaul I have received the following:

Spirit of Assessment Award Nominee, DePaul University, 2015

Women of Spirit and Action Honoree, DePaul University, 2013

University Research Council Grant Award, 2011

What do you like about teaching at DePaul?

I really like the diversity at DePaul as well as the opportunities to work internationally. There are people from all over the world with many different life experiences and I find this very enriching. I especially enjoy the diversity of my students—age, ethnicity, work settings, and life experiences. Students bring varied and rich perspectives to the topics and issues about which we inquire. This deepens everyone’s learning and expands all of our perspectives—I learn as much from my students as they learn from me; we all learn from each other.

What do you like about the MAEA program?

Several things! I like the way that it brings together my passions, scholarly interests, and my experience facilitating learning. I am stimulated by working with adults who can immediately apply their new learning in their practice settings. I also find the reflective component of the program powerful because we get to examine ourselves as learners in relation to facilitating the learning of others. As part of the program we can integrate experiences across life, work, and school and this makes the formal curriculum relevant and meaningful.

Who would you say is the most influential person in your life?

Oh my goodness, this is a difficult question that I try to avoid. The most? There are many people that have had a significant impact on my worldview, scholarly interests and life passions and there will be many more, I know. I am drawn to authentic people who practice what they preach and these include scholars, colleagues, and soul mates. But since you make me pick ‘the most’ then I will say Rodney. Rodney was a 10 year old in my class of students labeled “emotionally disturbed” and he lived in the projects where I also started a summer art camp. Rodney was reflective, insightful, and contemplative. Rodney didn’t do his schoolwork and hardly talked at all. He stayed on the sidelines, watching me set up classroom learning and art camp activities, and he eventually came to participate. Rodney taught me that students have many gifts and incredible intelligences, which are rarely recognized or valued in formal education. Unknowingly or maybe knowingly, he taught me that trust, respect, and listening with your heart are the qualities that are most important for learning and teaching. And he taught me that education must change!

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