Climbing Mount Confidence: Scaling the Cliffs of Impostor Syndrome

Concurrent Session 10

Brief Abstract

We've all had times where we've felt like we just don't fit. Like others are so much better than we are at what we do, like we'd love to ask our peers questions, but gosh we don't want to bother them - they must be too busy to talk to us, right? Wrong. As our tongue-in-cheek title suggests, we're a pretty fun and open group. Join us for an honest, vulnerable, and heartfelt conversation about impostor syndrome and how higher education leaders can recognize it, manage it, and rewrite their own “impostor” dialogue.


Mad scientist specializing in faculty support, student focus, digital spaces and human experience As the interim Senior Manager of Instructional Technology and Development for MSU Information Technology I lead a talented team of staff and postdoctoral scholars to support faculty and academic staff in creating quality, caring, and exemplary digital experiences at Michigan State University. We're builders, tinkerers, researchers, collaborators, fixers, and figurers. Mister Rogers told us to look for the helpers. We took that to heart, and work to be the helpers partnering with you to leverage academic technologies to build the best digital learning experiences for MSU students. I have worked in information technology since 1998, spanning the private and academic sectors. I live in Lansing with my pretty amazing partner Ryan and has spent more perfectly good hours playing video games than I am comfortable admitting in polite company. All that aside, I love thinking, reading, volunteering, rolling around on things with wheels, gardening, tinkering, and learning new things.
Tina Rettler-Pagel is a Faculty member and Chief Online Learning Officer at Madison College, in Madison, Wisconsin. Tina holds a B.S in Education with an emphasis on Emotional Disabilities from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an M.S. in Administrative Leadership from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is currently working on a Student Affairs Administration Doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Tina has completed an Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Teaching Certificate, as well as participated in OLC’s Institute for Engaged Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL) in 2017. Her research interests include retention and persistence in the online classroom, women in higher education leadership and governance, digital equity, and community college approaches to teaching and learning. When consulting with faculty, and in her own practice, Tina shares three important lessons: start small, engage at all costs, and never underestimate the power of kindness and inclusion in the classroom. Tina's hashtags? #Mom #Partner #CommunityCollegeProud #OnWisconsin #OnceABadgerAlwaysABadger #A11yAdvocate #OnlineTeaching #DoctoralStudent #Includer #Kindness #Connector #OnlineLearning #TechNerd #Resilience #StrongGirlsStrongWomen #Hockey #Fishing #AnythingSummer #JamMaker #Perseverance #SayYesToNewAdventures #ComeAsYouAre #CrossFit #FarmRaised #StartWhereYouAre #OldSchoolCookingAndBaking #ImpostorPhenomemon #Access #DoctoralCandidate
Angela Gunder serves as Director of Instructional Design and Curriculum Development for the Office of Digital Learning at The University of Arizona. Angela came into instructional design rather circuitously, helming large-scale site designs as webmaster for The City College of New York, the honors college at ASU, and Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA).  Her over fifteen year career as a designer for higher education informs her instructional design practice, where she leverages her expertise in usability, visual communication, programming, and standards-based online learning. Angela holds a B.S. in Computer Science and Fine Art from Fordham University, and a M.Ed. in Education Technology from Arizona State University.  Prior to her position at UA, she was a member of NOVA’s instructional design team, supporting over 23,000 students in 550 unique courses.   Angela is an Associate Editor for the Teacher Education Board of MERLOT, and a Quality Matters certified peer reviewer and online facilitator.  Her research interests include technology for second language acquisition, open educational resources, and emerging technology to promote digital literacy. A voracious culinary nerd, Angela spends her free time composing, cooking and photographing original recipes for her food blog.
Gary Chinn is Assistant Dean & Director of the Office of Digital Learning at Penn State University. He has served as eLearning Initiative Project Manager at the Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education in the College of Engineering. He previously served as instructional designer for Penn State's Blended Learning Initiative, Baruch College at the City University of New York, and Teachers College at Columbia University. During his time with the eLearning Institute, Gary oversaw the design and development of Penn State's first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), titled 'Introduction to Art: Concepts and Techniques.' He is currently pursuing online projects in collaboration with the School of Visual Arts and the School of Music. Gary holds a B.S. in radio-television-film from the University of Texas at Austin and an M.S. in instructional systems technology from Indiana University at Bloomington. His professional association memberships include Educause, the Sloan Consortium, the eLearning Guild, and the American Society for Training and Development.

Extended Abstract

At times, we all have rockstar moments of confidence, where we could move mountains if needed. Other times, our confidence blows in wind, feeling as if an avalanche is about to bury us as an “impostor”.  Studies show that superstars like Jodie Foster, Albert Einstein, and Maya Angelou hold feelings of self-doubt in regard to their talents. Further, we've read a number of articles and publications that show up to 70% of people hold feelings of self-doubt or being “found out.” Look around the room. Calculate 70% of the people you see. They may be doubting themselves right now. Sometimes we believe hard-earned circumstances is really just luck. Coined “impostor syndrome," higher education and online learning experts, leaders, and visionaries are not immune to this mind trap.

Join us as we explore and share in spaces surrounding the following guiding questions:

  • How does imposter syndrome manifest for you? Where are the anxiety points?
  • What are common situations where you face impostor syndrome experiences?
  • What strategies have worked for recognizing and managing “impostor feelings?"
  • What are some examples of instances (such as connecting to a group of colleagues) has helped diminish impostor syndrome experiences? How has this been beneficial to your professional network, career, and future opportunities?
  • Conferences like OLC can sometimes unintentionally encourage and support impostor syndrome feelings, especially for new attendees or those new to careers related to online learning.  How do we overcome that perception and those possible experiences?

Participants in this session will:

  • Identify at least one strategy they can use to build confidence in their professional lives
  • Identify at least one person they will actively build a network with to further support and mentor one another within the structure and format that best supports their professional and academic goals.
  • Find a like-minded support system of individuals to connect with beyond the conference event