Faculty Spotlight: Brian Dashew

Dr. Brian Dashew has recently joined the GSE faculty and has already begun to make an impact on the field of education. Dashew is a Professor of Practice in the Adult and Continuing Education program where he teaches an introductory course for understanding adult learners and learning theory, as well as a capstone course on applied research in adult learning.

Throughout his education, Dashew studied organizational learning and instructional design with a focus in adult learning. His research concentrates on addressing the gap between what we know about how people learn and the ways in which we think about and design learning for them. Dashew’s focus revolves around online course discussion forums and finding a way to bridge the difficult gap between these social learning platforms and the highly individualized needs of learners.

In addition to his research in online discussion forums, Dashew has collaborated on refining the use of “imaged dialogue” as a technique to help individuals engage with society and help people to get in touch with other perspectives as well as their own. This work, which earned the Jack Mezirow Living Theory Award at the 2019 International Transformative Learning Conference, encourages participants to write scripts or narratives that force them to embody themselves as a character and to also embody the people with whom their character interacts. “In doing so,” suggests Dashew, “they have to not only think about the next thing that a person would say, but they have to think about the motivation for the character to say each line. This helps them to appreciate there are perspectives and habits of mind that drive the way we act in our interactions with others.” Dashew and his colleagues have suggested this technique can be helpful in addressing a range of social issues by giving people greater awareness of their own perspective and putting them in touch with perspectives that are different from their own. “There is a great quote by Bob Kegan about how we tend to say things we are familiar with are correct and that those we cannot understand are automatically incorrect. Becoming free of this way of thinking his critical to our ability to function in a diverse society.”

Prior to joining the GSE, Dashew had a career in program development for adult and continuing education. He was most recently at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies where he served as Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs. In his work at Columbia and in prior positions at Marist College and eCornell, Dashew led course and program development efforts, designed faculty development initiatives, and managed teams responsible for educational technology design and support. As a new faculty member, Dashew is grateful for the position he has assumed, and he is excited that the GSE has provided an opportunity for him to bring his practice into the classroom.

Dashew has a vision for his own progress as he plans to further his research on discussion and online learning. Regarding this Dashew states, “I would like to make sure that the tools and knowledge are available for developing social learning activities for an adult learning population and available to anyone who needs them.”

Dashew lives in Jersey City with his family.