Professional Development Statement


My research interests are directly related to the experiences I have had as a full-time Instructional Designer in UGA's Office of Online Learning. As a Ph.D. student in the Learning, Design, and Technology Program, I have focused my projects on instructional design practices in higher education. In my first year, I've worked to find a theoretical basis for my interests in the analysis of practices of instructional designers, and how those practices impact the longevity and sustainability of collaborative instructional design projects. I found the Foundations of LDT course immeasurably helpful for orienting my interests to the existing field of literature. The case analysis activities in Educational Research in Instructional Technology have been powerful experiences that have helped me understand the importance of choosing the correct research design and analysis methods, and explaining the justification for using those methods in my research. Those case study presentations also helped me find many empirical studies from reputable journals relevant to my research interest.

I am planning to complete a qualitative exploratory study to describe issues that relate to the maintenance and sustainability of instructional design projects in higher education. There is very little existing literature on this topic, so I will be drawing on definitions of maintenance and sustainability from other fields, and applying it to instructional design. I'll also need to look into other environments, and apply that knowledge to the context of higher education. Upon completing this research, I'll offer recommendations for the collaborative instructional design process in higher education and considerations for supporting the maintenance and sustainabilty of instructional design projects.


Stefaniak, J. & Gilstrap, S. (under review). Enacting Change: Examining the Instructional Designer’s Role in Higher Education through a Coaching Lens. Journal of Applied Instructional Design.
Proposal accepted and manuscript submitted for a forthcoming special issue focused on understanding instructional design collaboration planned for publication in August of 2023.


Stefaniak, J., & Gilstrap, S. (under review). Enacting Change: Examining the Instructional Designer’s Role in Higher Education through a Coaching Lens
Submitted for concurrent session at AECT 2023 International Convention, Orlando, Florida.

  • This session will build upon the idea of an instructional designer in higher education settings as a change agent. We will explore the instructional designer’s role enacting change through a coaching lens using Passmore’s (2007) Integrative Coaching Model. Heuristics will be offered to support instructional designers’ abilities to approach their working relationships with faculty.

Yang, F., Stefaniak, J., & Gilstrap, S. (under review). The Prevalence of Help-Seeking in Instructional Design Practice in Higher Education.
Submitted for concurrent session at AECT 2023 International Convention, Orlando, Florida.

  • This session presents findings of a study surveying the literature on the knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes expected of instructional designers as they relate to supporting help-seeking in the instructional design process. We will emphasize that in order to become effective help-givers, instructional designers should incorporate evidence-based help-seeking strategies into their current pool of competencies and processes.

Bagdy, L., Stefaniak, J., Witowski, M., & Gilstrap, S. (under review). Informal Learning and Decision-Making Practices of Leadership Coachees.
Submitted as a work in progress session at AECT 2023 International Convention, Orlando, Florida.

  • This session will discuss a planned study that will examine how coachees use informal learning to supplement leadership development coaching. Leadership coaching is gaining momentum but empirical research has not kept up with this phenomenon. This study will explore the informal learning practices of leadership coachees and the decision-making processes that guides thier informal learning practices. The results of this study will inform both leadership coaches and consulting firms to fill the gaps in leadership coaching and address the needs of coachees.

Nyland, R., Gilstrap, S., Stauffer, E., Bremen, J., & Kessler, A. (under review). Supporting Alt-Academic Careers in AECT.
Submitted for panel session at AECT 2023 International Convention, Orlando, Florida.

  • In this panel, mid-career members of the AECT community will share their experiences working in alt-ac or alternative academic careers, which Bethman and Longstreet (2013) define as “an umbrella term to refer to full-time non-teaching and non-research positions within higher education.” The panel will discuss the benefits and challenges of an alt-academic position, how individuals in alt-academic positions can find opportunities to connect to research, and how AECT can support alt-academic professionals.

Related Teaching Experience

Facilitator, FALO: Facilitating Adult Learning Online, Summer/Fall 2022
FALO is an orientation-style course for faculty who are new to designing and teaching online courses. This course was offered to instructors that will be teaching in the Online MBA from the Terry College of Business. I am also working to help establish a Community of Practice for the program faculty to support their ability to share expertise and experiences with each other.

Related Work Experience

In the fall semester of 2022, I began collaborating with Terry College of Business as the lead instructional designer for a new Online Master's of Business Administration program. The program is currently accepting applications and the first classes will launch in the fall of 2023. I utilize the Design Sprint method when I begin working on a new online course. In the fall of 2022 I completed six design sprints for courses in Organizational Behavior & Leadership, Economic Analysis for Business Leaders, Financial Accounting & Reporting, Information Technology & Strategy, Managerial Finance, and Marketing Management. I also meet with the program coordinator bi-weekly to discuss the program design progression and update development benchmarks.

Professional Memberships

Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT), Member

American Educational Resource Association (AERA), Member

UGA Instructional Designer Community of Practice, Member


Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT), Conference Proposal Reviewer, 2023

UGA Instructional Design Community Of Practice, Co-Presenter (March 2023)

Instructional Technology Students Association (ITSA), Professional Development Coordinator Elect


Bethman, B., & Longstreet, C. S., (2013, May 23). Defining Terms. Inside Higher Ed.

Passmore, J. (2007). An integrative model for executive coaching. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 59(1), 68-78.