Research

Beyond expertise in their subject area, the number one quality students hope for in a teacher is passion. Passionate educators are more engaging and often leave lasting impressions on their students. Moreover, they impart a love for learning or subject matter and occasion tremendous growth and sometimes even radical change in their students. Nonetheless, what constitutes passion--in an educational context--is often nebulously defined.  

One possibility for theorizing passion may be through affect, and in an attempt to more clearly define passion in an educational context, my master's thesis considers composition pedagogies after the affective turn. Accordingly, I draw on composition scholarship, cognitive research, and empirical psychology to answer the question, what role does affect play in effective composition pedagogy?

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Previously, I had served as a McGregor Research Fellow examining media behavior and ethics during times of political crisis. In particular, Professor Mark Fowler (Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI), Professor Levi Obonyo (Daystar University, Nairobi, Kenya), Emmanuel Okaalet (Calvin College), and I interviewed dozens of media practitioners (i.e. editors, reporters veteran and new, photographers, freelancers) in Nairobi to explore how their professional practices changed in response to the violent fallout from Kenya's contested presidential race between Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga in late 2007. Following the interviews, I transcribed, coded, and compared our date to analyses of the pre- and post-election coverage by Kenya's three leading newspapers. While objectivity has traditionally been the arch ethic of journalistic practice, we ultimately advocated for peace journalism, a philosophy of journalistic practice that is intentionally biased in favor of non-violence, conflict analysis, and developmental resolutions.

 

Our research was later presented at the panel on "New Questions, New Vistas in International Communications Research" at the 95th National Communications Association Conference in Chicago, IL and published as a chapter entitled "Media and Post-Election Violence in Kenya" in Wiley-Blackwell's two-volume Handbook of Global Communication and Media Ethics