Chère Campbell Gibson is an internationally renowned scholar and practitioner in adult, continuing and vocational education. Her impact as a professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison resulted in engaging thousands of adults with limited educational choices. She is passionate about serving self-directed learners and better understanding what they need to be successful. National Science Foundation, United States Department of Agriculture and Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education funding, for example, supported her work in rural areas with Native American populations, migrant workers and new immigrants using appropriate technologies. She is particularly known for her learner-centered research and practice on culturally appropriate instructional strategies.
For the past 40 years, Gibson has been a passionate “cheerleader” for quality distance education. Her work began in the late 1970s in the University of Wisconsin System Administration designing and implementing time, pace, and place-flexible degree completion programs for adults. In later years, she has worked tirelessly with others in Engineering, Nursing, and Veterinary Sciences, among others, to ensure adults have access to graduate degrees and continuing professional development programs necessary to enhance their practice. She has reached far beyond the halls of academia and her home university to engage others through development of organizations and conferences, not just in Wisconsin but around the globe, developing strong alliances with other distance education leaders, scholars and practitioners. Her work and that of her graduate students contributed significantly to the research-based practices used in other open and distance learning universities around the world today.
Over her many years of teaching and research on learners and learning at a distance, she has received campus teaching awards, national awards in both distance education outreach credit and non-credit programming and the Wedemeyer Award for Excellence in Distance Education Research and was recently inducted into the United States Distance Learning Association’s Hall of Fame. An author of more than 100 research articles and book chapters, she also edited a book entitled Distance Learners in Higher Education: Institutional Responses for Quality Outcomes (1998) and co-edited a forthcoming book on flexibility in higher education. Both marry the learner-centered principles of adult and continuing education with emerging technological possibilities. Highlights of her published research include: persistence and cognition in distance education programs, group and gender dynamics in online learning contexts, and psychosocial factors associated with Internet use among enrollees in tribal colleges. Her body of work focuses on creating educational access for those (particularly women) struggling to complete educational programs while working, raising families and contributing to local communities.
She is committed to providing non-credit opportunities for professionals to learn more about distance education and training. The Certificate of Professional Development in Distance Education, which she founded, and Annual Conference on Teaching and Learning at a Distance, which she chaired for many years, exemplifies her commitment to continuing professional education. Further, she mentored the formation of the Great Plains IDEA online graduate degrees in human sciences, co-designed the Penn State Leadership workshop in distance education, and served on national panels developing distance education quality standards including the American Council on Education and the American Distance Education Consortium. Her international work on the use of distance education for development includes the leeward island of the Caribbean, Canada, Jamaica, Turkey, and Thailand. Her graduate students span the globe, as do her faculty mentees and her research and publication colleagues.
Now a professor emerita at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, she serves as a consulting evaluation specialist on a variety of projects for government, military, public, and private sector organizations.
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