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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Jane Wemhoener

   

The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Jane Wemhoener, instructor of English, for her outstanding, engaging teaching that focuses on a student-centered pedagogy, as well as her work in international education, service learning, and student advising.

Wemhoener’s student-centered approach is evident in the consistent encouragement with which she asks her students to engage with the material. Class discussion is central to her teaching, both in literature classes and in writing intensive classes. In classes of 80 students, as well as small seminar classes, Wemhoener uses small group discussions, presentations, and collaboration to promote in-depth and creative work. Further, Wemhoener utilizes cross-disciplinary approaches to topics (e.g., psychology and literature texts for “Women's Literature”), supporting students in making connections to other disciplines and methods.

With a background in medieval literature and professional writing, Wemhoener also teaches courses in children’s, women’s, and world literature. In addition, her international experience has led to the development of a new course in the department with a focus on applying study abroad learning to students’ undergraduate research and writing. With her focus on internationalizing the curriculum, Wemhoener co-coordinated a conference on “Finding the World in English” at VT in March 2012.

Wemhoener consistently receives among the highest teaching evaluation scores and enthusiastic student comments of faculty members in the Department of English. Her scores average 3.9 out of a possible 4.0 on the Student Perception of Instruction evaluation. A former student in Wemhoener’s women’s literature course writes: “I feel like this course has opened my eyes about the problems women have faced and continue to face. As an engineering major, I do not often have this kind of experience.” A student in her business writing course: “Business Writing is the most useful class that I have ever taken in my 15+ years of formal education. While this is an extremely bold statement, I stand behind it.”

Under Wemhoener’s leadership, the department’s study abroad program has flourished. Five student groups have travelled to England since 2008 with faculty from English, theatre, and architecture. Students on VT’s London Calling! Program (designed by Wemhoener) have said of her leadership; “Professor Wemhoener was phenomenal. She pushed us to see London as more than an interesting tourist location but as a city with a history influencing its present and future. Her enthusiasm for just being in London passed on to her students.” “She is the kindest woman I've ever met. Because she knows all of us so well and is so well educated herself, her discussions are particularly engaging. It is easy to learn from such a great person.”

“Jane is a gifted, generous, and highly effective teacher, whatever assignment the department gives to her,” said Joseph Eska, professor and head of the English department. “She has made a difference in the lives of numerous students from across the university and is one of the faculty members who students remember when they graduate.”

Wemhoener has been recognized with the 2012 Alumni Award for Teaching Excellence, as well as the college’s and university’s outreach awards, service-learning award, and an international faculty development award.





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