Teaching Excellence Awards

 Year Awarded: 2008

Faculty Award winner

Melody Bowdon

 College of Arts and Humanities

 English

I have taught undergraduate writing classes for over fifteen years, and the most gratifying aspect of my experience has always been seeing students make ethical use of concepts and techniques learned from my classes in their lives as professionals and citizens. For me, teaching writing is teaching thinking, and the key to meaningful learning is making a connection between the classroom and the world beyond. For this reason, service-learning is central to my pedagogical approach. The work my students have done in their communities in the past decade has repeatedly pleased and amazed me and I take great pride in being associated with their accomplishments.Students in my technical and professional writing classes use their expertise to create computer manuals, employee handbooks, grant proposals, brochures, flyers, and other documents for nonprofit organizations and businesses throughout our region. Through this process they recognize how much they know and how much their communities can benefit from their expertise. They realize that the smallest increment of their donated time can make or break a community project, and that no matter how much they know about the technical aspects of their fields, unless they learn to convey their knowledge to real audiences their training will never reach its full potential impact.Service-learners in my Literature of AIDS course recognize that people living with AIDS aren’t characters in books but members of the world in which they live and work. They realize that it’s not enough to feel compassion for people in an abstract sense or to hope for the best; it is their responsibility as educated citizens to take action. They engage in consciousness-raising events, fundraising projects and client services.  Students can learn about technically correct writing through reading textbooks and executing hypothetical assignments. What they might miss out on, though, when creating projects read only by their profess