In reforming Wayne State's general education curriculum, stakeholders from across campus sought to create a foundational university education that would help support the success of all students. Over the last six years, general education has played a key role in the university's improved retention and graduation rates. That success is in large part due to the dedication and investment of instructors across campus.
As a result, the General Education Teaching Awards were launched in 2021 to highlight instructors annually for their commitment to general education.
The following instructors’ accomplishments will be celebrated this year at the Academic Recognition Ceremony in May:
- Shantalea Johns, assistant professor of teaching (School of Social Work)
- Chera Kee, associate professor of film and media studies (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences)
- Hannah Schacter, assistant professor of psychology (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences)
The winners were selected by the General Education Oversight Committee (GEOC) based on evidence of reflective teaching as linked to the university’s core values. Here is what the committee wrote about the winners:
Shantalea Johns, assistant professor of teaching (School of Social Work)
“In her courses, Shantalea helps students make connections between the theories and concepts they learn in the classroom and the institutions, structures and experiences that they will encounter in the world. Exposing students to service-learning opportunities, students are challenged to think about what diversity, equity and inclusion means in practice in their communities as autonomous thinkers and active citizens.
"Drawing on trauma-informed pedagogy, Shantalea seeks to create a safe, trusting and transparent classroom where all students feel empowered to learn and grow, and she shares her expertise with her colleagues through regular Office for Teaching and Learning workshops so that we all grow in our understanding of how we can best support student learning.”
Chera Kee, associate professor of film and media studies (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences)
“Through courses on film and television, Chera uses popular culture to help students develop critical awareness about the power of media technologies and their influence on our daily lives. Dedicated to creating an inclusive classroom, Chera ensures that all students can access material and see themselves represented on and behind the screen.
"This diversity of representation and experience generates new kinds of reflections about students’ personal media consumption, and inspires intergenerational and intercultural connections and conversations about the power of the media. At a time when information literacy seems more important than ever, Chera is empowering our students to become reflective and critical media consumers.”
Hannah Schacter, assistant professor of psychology (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences)
“Working in large courses, Hannah draws on the connections between psychological science and ‘real-world’ phenomena to underscore how scientific inquiry can shed light on everyday experiences in a students’ life, and help students develop transferable skills that will support them during their time at Wayne State and beyond.
"Prioritizing building strong connections with her students to help them feel socially and emotionally supported, Hannah has created innovative forms of online teaching, rooted in evidence-based assessment methods that promote engagement and learning.”
Wayne State’s general education curriculum includes a minimum of 35 credits of courses.
“The general education curriculum is the university’s only formal programming that touches almost every undergraduate student in some way,” said Jennifer Hart, associate professor of history and co-chair of the GEOC. “These faculty are extremely dedicated and doing innovative things to support our students. We’re hopeful that these awards will help shift the conversation away from gen ed as a box to tick, to that of an integral program that presents a unique and powerful opportunity to develop the competencies necessary for long-term academic success.”
Last year’s award winners, Beth Fowler, associate professor of teaching (Irvin D. Reid Honors College); Adrienne Jankens, assistant professor of English (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences); and Richard Pineau, associate professor of teaching in the Department of Mathematics (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences), paid it forward by serving as mentors for this year’s applicants through a workshop organized by the Academy of Teachers. The plan is to have each year’s winners do the same with the next cohort.