College of Education and Human Development

Department of Curriculum and Instruction

Robert Poch

  • Pronouns: he, him, his

  • Researcher 6

  • Office Hours

    Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 2:30-4:00, and by appointment.

Robert Poch

Areas of interest

Educational History, Multicultural College Teaching and Learning


PhD, Higher Education, University of Virginia
MA, History, Virginia Tech
BA, History, Virginia Tech


What motivates me in my work?

The exploration of challenging questions concerning human diversity is a strong motivating force in my teaching and research.  I enjoy examining how ideas and concepts regarding diversity emerge over time and what impact they have on how we include or exclude people within societies.  Most of all, I am motivated by watching how students develop personal interpretations of history, create their own identities in contemporary society, and identify how they will use their privileges and talents in service to others.

What can students expect from me?

Complete commitment to a genuine learning partnership within a multicultural learning environment where ideas are proposed, shared, debated, and tested through active engagement with subject matter and one another. Students can also expect that I will be prepared, enthusiastically engaged, and attentive to, and respectful of ideas and perspectives that differ from my own.

My research:

Combining my background in history, teaching, and higher education public policy, my research focuses primarily on the history of the early civil rights movement in the United States (with a particular focus on the period 1930-1954) and how public policies were influenced and formulated to create greater access to educational opportunity.  My most recent research focuses on the pedagogical approaches that prepared and enabled early civil rights attorneys to win landmark cases that eventually desegregated public schools. 

A primary goal of my research is to bring forward the stories and contributions of many civil rights advocates and leaders who remain largely unknown in U.S. history.  Further, I worked collaboratively with other colleagues in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning to investigate how college and university faculty can “engage diversity” within classroom settings to develop cognitive and intra/interpersonal skills necessary for individual, community, and professional success and advancement.

Specific research foci that I am exploring are guided by the following goals: 

  • To discover how engagement with "history problems" through the use of archival primary source materials and related analytic questions can enhance historical interpretation and understanding among undergraduate students.
  • To examine historically and share the policy contributions and strategies of mostly unknown early civil rights leaders and communities who created through multi-disciplinary perspectives arguments for equal educational opportunity.
  • To understand how communities and organizations came together through principled and focused leadership to gather the information, resources, and learning tools necessary to make extraordinary advances in human rights including those in education.
  • To explore the classroom content, teaching methods and materials, student assignments and examinations, and out-of-class academic experiences that produced large numbers of informed, dedicated, and effective civil rights advocates.
  • To apply the historical lessons of the above to contemporary issues involving educational inequality and the policies that perpetuate such inequality.
  • To apply historical and policy research findings on the advancement of human rights to class discussions, assignments, and undergraduate research opportunities.


  • 2021 Article of the Year Award, Organization of Educational Historians
  • 2014 Horace T. Morse - University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education.

Poch, R. (2020) “Illuminating Educational History Through the Use of a 1933 Murder Trial,”

American Educational History Journal, Vol. 47, No. 1.

Lee, A.; Poch R.; Smith, A.; Delehanty Kelly, M.; Leopold, H. (2018). “Intercultural Pedagogy:  A  Faculty Learning Cohort,” Education Sciences, 8(4), 177.

Poch, R., & Yousuf, E. (2017). “Teaching Undergraduate History: A Problem-Based Approach.” Innovative Learning and Teaching: Experiments Across the Disciplines.  Minneapolis: Center for Educational Innovation, University of Minnesota. 

Lee, A.; Poch, R.; O’Brien, M.K.; & Solheim, C. (2017). Teaching Interculturally: A Framework for Integrating Disciplinary Knowledge and Intercultural Development. Reston, VA: Stylus. 

Poch, R. (2015). “Howard University Students and Civil Rights Activism, 1934-1944.” American Educational History Journal, Vol. 42, No. 2.

Poch, R. (2012). "Shaping Freedom's Course: Charles Hamilton Houston, Howard University, and Legal Instruction on U.S. Civil Rights." American Educational History Journal, Vol. 39, No. 2. 

Lee, A., Poch, R., Shaw, M., & Williams, R. (2012). Engaging Diversity in Undergraduate Classrooms. ASHE Higher Education Report Series Monograph. Jossey-Bass.

Grier-Reed, T. & R. Poch. (2012). "The Origin of Charter Schools: A Brief History."  In A. Esmail, and A. Duhon-Ross Mcallum (Eds.), Charter Schools: Answering the Call; Saving Our Children.  Issues in Black Education Series, University Press of America.

Arendale, D., and R. Poch. (2008). “Using Universal Instructional Design for Administrative Leadership, Planning, and Evaluation.”    In J.L. Higbee & G. Goff  (Eds.), Pedagogy and student services for institutional transformation: Implementing universal design in higher education.   Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, College of Education and Human Development.   

Detzner, D., Poch, R., and Taylor, D. (2005). Foreward.  In J. L. Higbee, D. B. Lundell, & D. R. Arendale (Eds.), The General College vision: Integrating intellectual growth, multicultural perspectives, and student development, xv-xix. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, General College, Center for Research on Developmental Education and Urban Literacy.

Bacig, K.Z., J.C. Hearn, and R. Poch. (Spring, 2002).  “Postsecondary Opportunity and Choice: Factors Influencing the Attendance Decisions of Minnesota Students.”  CURA Reporter. 

Poch, R. (1993).  Academic Freedom in American Higher Education: Rights, Responsibilities, and Limitations, ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 4, Washington, D.C.: The George Washington University.


"A Laboratory for Justice: Charles Hamilton Houston and the Development of Legal Education for the Advancement of African American Rights," History of Education Society, Annual Meeting, Little Rock, Arkansas, November 2018.

"A Problem-based Approach to Teaching Educational History," History of Education Society, Annual Meeting, Providence, Rhode Island, November 2016.

"Historians for Educational Desegregation: John Hope Franklin, C. Vann Woodward, and the Application of Historical Research in Brown v. Board of Education." Organization of Educational Historians, Annual Conference, Chicago, Illinois, September 2015.

"Strangers in the Land - Again: The Historical Connection of Interposition and Race before and during Arizona’s Immigration Battle." Organization of American Historians, Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri, April 2015.

"Intercultural Pedagogy in Undergraduate Classrooms: Engaging Dissonance" (co-presenter). Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference , Washington, DC, March 2015

“Organizing for Racial Equality: Howard University Students and the Establishment of the University’s NAACP Student Chapter, 1934-35.” Organization of Educational Historians, Annual Conference, Chicago, Illinois, September 2014.

 "Lessons Learned, Lessons Applied: How History Informs Best Practices for the Contemporary Recruitment, Retention, and Preparation of Teachers of Color" (co-presenter with Jade Beauclair). Minnesota Minority Education Partnership Conference, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2014. 

"The Science of Justice: Thurgood Marshall, Kenneth B. Clark and the Strategic Partnership to Achieve Educational Desegregation." Organization of Educational Historians, Annual Conference, Chicago, Illinois, October 2013.

"Intercepting Justice: The Historical Use of Interposition and Nullification in Blocking Educational Desegregation." Organization of Educational Historians, Annual Conference, Chicago, Illinois, October 2012.

"Howard University and the First Law Course on U.S. Civil Rights."  Organization of Educational Historians, Annual Conference, Chicago, Illinois, October 2011.

“Breaking through ‘The Luminous Darkness:’ Howard Thurman and the Call for Educational Desegregation.”  Organization of Educational Historians, Annual Conference, Chicago, Illinois, September 2010.

“A Laboratory for Equality: Charles Hamilton Houston and the Role of Howard University Law School in Killing Legalized Segregation.”  Association for the Study of Higher Education, Annual Conference, Vancouver, British Columbia, November 2009.

“Changes in the Role of Governors in State Higher Education: Structural Changes Alone or Something More?”  Association for the Study of Higher Education, Annual Conference, Jacksonville, Florida, November 2008.

"Political Movement in Higher Education: The Role of Student Activism." Minnesota College Personnel Association, Fall Conference, William Mitchell College of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota, October 2008.

“An Examination of Historical Antecedents of American Colleges through the Conceptual Framework of Cultural Translation and Transformation,” Midwest History of Education Society, Annual Meeting, Chicago, Illinois, October 2008.