Faculty Spotlight: Martin Springborg

Director of teaching and learning dedicated to supporting faculty and students

Martin Springborg, 49, serves as the director of teaching and learning at Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College. Martin took on this role in March 2019.

“The DCTC/Inver Hills Center for Teaching and Learning lives our colleges’ mission and vision in supporting faculty and students,” he said. “My primary goals are to help faculty and students learn, discover, and build a better future. I take our college’s shared vision seriously in pursuing those goals. Creating a transformational education for every student means focusing on the learning experiences they have in their classes as well as providing support outside of the classroom. My primary work is with faculty and I strive for that work to be rewarding for them. Ultimately, this work also results in deep, meaningful learning experiences for their students.”

Martin was a faculty member in the Minnesota State system from 2002 until 2019. He started his teaching career at Inver Hills Community College, teaching photography in the studio and online. He has worked in the field of educational development since 2007. He served as a program director at the Minnesota State Center for Teaching and Learning and as a conference chair and board member with the Professional and Organizational Development (POD) Network in Higher Education. He has worked as an educational development consultant at colleges and universities across the country.

Martin’s interest in teaching, learning, and assessment in higher education led him to serve as a Higher Learning Commission (HLC) peer reviewer and systems appraiser and as a Quality Matters Peer and Master Reviewer.

Martin has written for Minnesota State internal publications on topics such as techniques for the assessment of student learning, teaching and learning with technology, and student engagement in both traditional and online classrooms. His writings and photographs relative to teaching and learning in higher education have also appeared in Thought & Action (2013) and To Improve the Academy (2012 and 2016).

Stemming from his work in educational development as well as his work as an educator and practitioner in photography, Martin recently coauthored the books, Meaningful Grading: A Guide for Faculty in the Arts (West Virginia University Press, 2018) and What Teaching Looks Like: Higher Education through Photographs (Elon University Center for Engaged Learning, 2022).

What Teaching Looks Like

Higher Education through Photographs

by Cassandra Volpe Horii and Martin Springborg

Martin reported that What Teaching Looks Like is the culmination of more than a decade of making documentary photographs on the subject of higher education and interviewing faculty and administrators about the realities of teaching and learning in that world. He really likes what one of the publisher’s pre-readers said about the book:

“This book is invaluable as ‘a thick description’ of the realities of teaching and learning; and as ‘a form of truth’ that gives recognition to the work that teachers and learners do. Most importantly, it is a call for change, to rethink teaching and learning—not as a limited, homogeneous set of mechanical acts, but as a mutually enriching form of human interaction at the intersection of spaces, people, and practices that gives meaning to education—to nourish and cherish one another intellectually, socially, morally.”

Chng Huang Hoon
National University of Singapore
Past-Co-President of ISSOTL

Martin Springborg photography gallery

You can view more of Martin’s photos by visiting:

Teaching and Learning

More about Martin…

Sarah and Martin

Martin is originally from Monticello, Minnesota. He has been married three years to his wife, Sarah, who works as an accounts receivable supervisor at Kemps LLC. Martin has a daughter, Emma, 19, and a son, Henry, 16, and two stepdaughters, McKenna, 16, and Lexi, 11.

The family has two dogs, Anna, a 10-year-old golden retriever, and Bella, a 7-year-old puggle, and two cats, Zoe, an 8-year-old black shorthair, and Kiwi, a 9-month-old tortoiseshell.

In his free time, Martin enjoys fly fishing, being on or near the water, and cooking (mostly eating, but also cooking).

Martin and his family reside in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota.

Anna and Bella

Martin Springborg: Teaching philosophy

The greatest reward as a teacher has been my students telling me that I have inspired them to find and use their own voice. My application of a mastery model to my courses often means that my students concentrate on a single project or print until both they, and I feel it communicates their intended message. A strong belief in a student’s ability to excel, given the right environment and encouragement, has motivated me towards this individualized instruction.

I teach specifically at the undergraduate level because it is here where I feel I am making the greatest contribution to the greater art community. It is at this introductory stage where one is most likely to witness the greatest growth in students, and as a teacher this is what I live to see.

Martin Springborg
Director of Teaching and Learning
Inver Hills Community College
Dakota County Technical College

Three words that describe you as a photographer:

Martin Springborg Q & A

What did you enjoy most about teaching photography at Inver Hills?

The students. Many of them would come to my class terrified of making art. It was exciting to see them realize they had something to say through photographs. I’m still in contact with Inver students that took my classes almost 20 years ago. It’s truly amazing what they’ve gone on to do with their lives.

What inspired you to enter the field of professional and educational development?

When I was in graduate school at the University of Minnesota, I took a series of seminar courses called “Preparing Future Faculty.” Those were incredible learning experiences. Graduate students from a wide variety of disciplines came together in these seminars. Almost all the teaching we knew prior to that was discipline-specific.

For example, I only knew how to teach art from observing my own instructors. I was inspired by all the possibilities, how I could take a common teaching method from biology and apply it to teaching photography.

I was honestly hooked after that, but didn’t realize the field of educational development was an option. I got involved in the Inver Hills Faculty Development Committee soon after I started teaching here and years later took that experience to a position in the system office—in our then MnSCU Center for Teaching and Learning.

Three words that describe you as an educator:

What is the best way for faculty to approach the challenges of professional development?

Just jump in. I don’t know many people who truly embrace change, and I think we are even less apt to welcome it the further along we are in our careers. Participating in a workshop, conference, consultation, or any other form of professional development opportunity can by incredibly daunting, I’m sure. We’ve all been there. You have to step out of your comfort zone to engage in that experience and that can be terrifying if not uncomfortable. But you are almost guaranteed to come out of that experience with something new and exciting to bring to your work, not only to improve student learning in your classes but to reinvigorate your love of teaching or your interest in your discipline.

What advice would you give students navigating CTL pages for the first time?

First, know there are real human beings behind those pages who are waiting to help you. We have an entire site devoted to supporting student learning: Student Resources. The landing page of this site is designed to get you to where you need to be, and to the help that is best suited to your needs—whether you are looking for online tutorials or to connect with an actual human who can help you with your issue. If you get lost in all the resources, just click the button to book an appointment or email our Learning Technology Support Specialist.

What is one important lesson you’ve learned during your career in educational development?

Try to say yes to as many things as possible early in your career. You’ll quickly learn your path that way, and many of those early experiences that weren’t your cup of tea may likely lend themselves to future positions or interests you actually do want to pursue.

Where do you hope to find yourself in 20 years?

Probably retired, but I don’t like to think about that too much. It seems like that would be incredibly boring.

What person has influenced your life the most and why?

Probably the person who first put a camera in my hands—a junior high teacher and photography club coordinator. I think I was the only member of the “club” in that small school and she taught me everything a tenth grader needed to know about camera and darkroom use. It was enough to get me hooked on photography for life. From that experience, I also later in life realized the potential impact of teaching—how a teacher can change a person’s entire life.

One word that best describes your experience working at DCTC and Inver Hills:


Martin Springborg 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: Cycling
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Italy
  3. Most exciting thing you’ve ever done: I was chased by a moose once while making photographs. That’s pretty up there in excitement level.
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Pay off student debt for a lot of people 2) Start a scholarship for first-generation college students 3) Buy my mom a new house
  5. Best book or movie you’ve read or seen lately: This isn’t a movie, but I recently saw A Raisin in the Sun at the Guthrie. That was a great performance.
  6. Time period you would explore if you could time travel: That’s a hard one. Maybe the 1920s.
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: At this point, I just want my kids to be happy and healthy.
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: Common loon
  9. Least favorite mode of transportation: Maybe rollerblades
  10. Person you would most like to meet: At this moment, Jill Biden
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: I’ve always wanted to learn how to build a boat. I think that’s a pretty amazing skill.
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: If I’m limited to one, I’ll pick hunger. Get everyone ample food, and there will be far less of the other problems.
Learn more about the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at Inver Hills and DCTC by contacting:

Martin Springborg
Director of Teaching and Learning
Inver Hills: 651-450-3628
DCTC: 651-423-8659

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