About Me

To address the fact that students face real difficulties not knowing how to deal with unfamiliar ideas and mental models, and SoTL lacks a model for lesson design, I developed “Decoding the Disciplines” along with David Pace, Leah Shopkow, and Arlene Diaz, from a framework, to a methodology, to a theory. I specialize in leading faculty groups to make disciplinary thinking more available. Decoding can uncover the mental moves that are so automatic to an expert that they are invisible and, and Bottleneck Design can show how to explicitly teach those mental moves to students. With Leah Shopkow, I published a practical guide to decoding: Overcoming Student Learning Bottlenecks (2018) and an exploration of the theories of SoTL (CAUTION! THEORIES AT PLAY: Threshold Concepts and Decoding the Disciplines, 2020). The History Learning Project (Diaz, Middendorf, Pace, and Shopkow) won the top research awards in the fields of research in teaching and learning (2009 McGraw-Hill–Magna Publications Award) and in educational development (2008 Menges Award). Outside of work, Joan likes to kayak, garden, and play games with her grandchildren.