University of Minnesota
Office of Human Resources

Ilene Alexander

Ilene Alexander

Education Specialist


  • Ph.D. University of Iowa, American Studies
  • M.A. Mankato State University, Women's Studies
  • M.A. Mankato State University, English
  • B.S. Mankato State University, Political Science and Journalism

Professional Expertise & Interests

My professional work and interests revolve around wanting to provoke and provide more learning for more students across more classrooms so that teaching and learning are more rewarding for students and for teachers.

Specific areas of expertise and consultation interests, therefore, include:

  • Course (re)design for undergraduate general education
  • Integrating active learning into majors across the curriculum
  • Developing grading practices that are efficient and effective and include multiple measures of student learning
  • Multicultural teaching and learning as an everyday course design principle
  • Supervising/building courses with TAs, especially addressing teaching roles and professional development in large courses
  • Career planning for graduate/professional students & post-doctoral fellows
  • Pedagogies and practices for developing graduate courses
  • Graduate level writing intensive courses with frameworks supporting peer/faculty feedback from day one of graduate school to dissertation completion

Teaching Expertise & Pedagogical Interests

I’ve been teaching for 25 years – primarily in undergraduate classrooms focusing on first year writing courses with US Civil Rights Movements as the content focus, but also my teaching has included advanced expository writing courses, topics courses in women’s studies, and US literatures courses. Now I teach primarily as a member of the Preparing Future Faculty Program (PFF) focusing on “Teaching in Higher Education” and an assortment of topics-in-higher-education courses. I continue with “regular” classroom teaching through course assignments from the Writing Studies and Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies departments.

During my career, I’ve taught at a community college, a small liberal arts college, a comprehensive university and two very different research institutions – a background that serves my PFF students quite well.

Teaching-Learning interests include:

  • Anything & everything having to do with teaching & learning in higher education
  • Multicultural teaching and learning across the disciplines
  • Active pedagogies – interactive lecturing, discussion-based teaching, writing to learn, integrating writing and speaking components
  • Pedagogies for graduate-level courses
  • Pedagogies for first year undergraduate courses
  • Gathering, analyzing and making wise use of student feedback on teaching-learning

Research Expertise & Interests

My current research is a return to my dissertation interest in the life, work and pedagogical principles of Myles Horton (Highlander Folk School), Septima Clark (Citizenship Schools) and Robert P. Moses (Algebra Project) who collaborated in the 1960s to craft educational practices rooted in multiple, collaborative philosophies of social justice and practices of local leadership, teacher community engagement and student learning. I link these frameworks – and the adult learning framework offered by Stephen Brookfield and ally thinking embedded in work by Combahee River Collective, Ricky Sherover-Marcuse and Carolyn Shrewsbury – to exploring the overarching question:

What might allow future faculty to develop “practical theories” for teaching and learning that encompass multicultural teaching and learning practices and pedagogies as an everyday practice and philosophy, whatever their personal, professional, pedagogical locations?

Scholarship of Teaching & Learning: Select Work

  • Presentation (completed) & Proceedings Article (under consideration). “Preparing Future Faculty for Multicultural Teaching and Learning.” At Education in a Changing Environment Conference: Is the Student Really at the Heart of Higher Education? Critical Voices, Critical Times. University of Salford, UK. 16 September 2009.
  • Presentation. “Future Faculty ‘Take On’ Multicultural Teaching & Learning as an Everyday Strategy.” London Scholarship of Teaching and Learning International Conference. 16 May 2008.
  • Article. “Multicultural Teaching and Learning Resources for Preparing Future Faculty in ‘Teaching in Higher Education’ Courses, A Review Essay.” In New Directions for Teaching and Learning, edited by Matthew Kaplan and AT Miller. Special Issue on Scholarship of Multicultural Teaching and Learning. Issue 111 (Autumn 2007): 27-33.
  • Workshop. “Hiding Right in Front of Us: Undisclosed Student Learning Challenges.” POD Network [Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education] Annual Conference: Purpose, Periphery, and Priorities. Pittsburgh, PA. 26 October 2007.
  • Presentation. "Multicultural Teaching and Learning Fellowships: Successful Strategies for Individual and Departmental Change." Keeping Our Faculties IV. With Carol Chomsky. Minneapolis, MN. April 2007.
  • Editor & Contributor. “Issues and Insights” web resources on multicultural teaching & learning; author of "Multicultural Teaching: A Rich Resource for Learning." Both at
  • Presentation. “Graduate Student Writing: Resources and Approaches for Preparing Students to Write Their Dissertations.” University of Minnesota Graduate School Policy and Review Council Assembly.Fall 2006.
  • Co-Editor. Women’s Studies Quarterly special issue on “Women and Literacy: Moving to Power and Participation.” With Mev Miller. 32: 1 & 2 (Spring/Summer 2004).
  • Article. “Building Literacy into Courses: Syllabus & Pedagogical Considerations (with sample syllabi by Jenny Horsman and Suzanne Smythe).” Women’s Studies Quarterly 32: 1 & 2 (Spring/Summer 2004).