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Striving for Excellence (a NISOD/Cengage Partnership Series)
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How Imposter Syndrome Can Interfere with Innovative Instruction
Valued Contributor

How often do we pause to consider and explore our hesitancy to implement educational technology in our courses or examine why we don’t apply the new innovative instructional strategy we learned about at the last conference we attended (and made notes about it that are still in our folder)?


If we’re honest, could it possibly be we’re suffering from ‘imposter syndrome’


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Mary Poffenroth, adjunct faculty member at San Jose University, explains the negative impact imposter syndrome can have on us as faculty and our students, and some strategies we can use to recognize and counteract that damaging internal dialogue.   





Mary uses a Kudos folder to reflect on past accomplishments and appreciative comments from former students when she realizes she may be inclined to sub-consciously self-sabotage. She practices cognitive reframing, focusing on the positive attributes, both her own and the positive aspects of the situation, what she and her students will gain.



She suggests some questions we can ask ourselves to identify the negative interference from imposter syndrome that may hinder our willingness to accept new responsibilities or experiment with innovation in our instruction:


  • Is it a lack of experience that is making me uncomfortable, and if so, then can I learn through this while gaining the experience I need?
  • Will this opportunity advance my personal and professional development?
  • Who in my circle can support me as I strive to reach this new ‘stretch’ goal?

The next time we may be feeling uneasy or inadequate at the thought of trying something new, we should understand it’s probably because we’re challenging ourselves and striving to meet new goals. That means we’ll develop skills in the process and engage in what we encourage our students to pursue- lifelong learning.


When you reflect back to the last time you were offered a new opportunity or considered making a change in a course, have you experienced imposter syndrome? 


What other strategies do you think may be helpful at counteracting any negative internal dialogue? 



You can listen to Mary’s full podcast about imposter syndrome HERE