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Published April 30, 2024


GSE alum honored with award for book on reimagining literacies in the digital age

University at Buffalo Graduate School of Education alumna Pauline Skowron Schmidt, EdM ’99, PhD ’09, received the Divergent Publication Award for Excellence in Literacy in a Digital Age Research from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) in recognition of her book, “Reimagining Literacies in the Digital Age: Multimodal Strategies to Teach with Technology.”

A graduate of UB’s English Education PhD program (now the curriculum, instruction and the science of learning PhD program) and elementary education EdM program, Schmidt co-authored the book with Matthew J. Kruger-Ross, associate professor of educational leadership and higher education administration at the West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

Published in December 2022 by the NCTE, “Reimagining Literacies in the Digital Age” offers a groundbreaking exploration of the transformative potential of modern technologies in expanding, enhancing and inspiring secondary students’ literacy skills. Schmidt and Kruger-Ross explore the intricacies of visual and aural literacies as well as multimodal literacies, advocating for a thoughtful and deliberate approach to teaching that prepares students to effectively navigate and create diverse texts facilitated by technology.

Embedded throughout the book are also the voices and experiences of practicing and preservice teachers. The text is intended to inspire innovative ideas for educators to challenge, extend and enrich their literacy practices.

“I really hope that [readers] can realize that literacies are multiple in the 21st century and onward,” said Schmidt. “I hope that they say, ‘Okay, I can still teach the required curriculum, but I can teach it in a way that engages my students.’”

“Some English teachers still want to just do text analysis and written papers as the only form of communication. I hope they see some creative options that truly work in real classrooms and that we’ve highlighted some amazing teachers in our area who are using memes, infographics, digital videos and different ways of consuming and producing so that the students are engaged,” she continued.

“Ultimately, that’s what our goal should be, right? It shouldn’t just be to elevate a classic work of literature. It should be to create lifelong readers and writers who are prepared to go out into the world and handle all the information coming at them and detect facts from fiction,” Schmidt said. “It’s a particularly challenging time for teenagers right now to discern what’s real and right, so I think the way to do that is to engage students with things they care about and give them options when it comes to [what they are reading and consuming].”

Pauline at May 2008 Commencement Ceremony with her family.

Schmidt currently serves as a professor of English education in the Department of Secondary Education at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. She is also the director of the West Chester Writing Project.

Throughout her career, Schmidt’s teaching and research interests have centered around the infusion of arts in English Education, the diversification of literature for children and young adults, and the impact of new literacies on curriculum and teacher preparation.

She believes that her achievements are, in part, a testament to the education and mentorship she received at GSE. “The faculty trained me academically, and they trained me to write well and do research, but they also trained me in humanity—grad students are people, and undergrads are people. That was fantastic mentorship,” she said.

Among the professors who impacted and influenced her during her graduate career, Schmidt is grateful to GSE faculty members James L. Collins and Suzanne Miller, both retired professors of learning and instruction, for their guidance and support. She also remembers the late GSE Professor of Learning and Instruction Greg Dimitriadis for making a lasting impression on her life and career.

“Greg Dimitriadis was amazing. He was one of my favorites,” she said. “He really made a deep impact on how I thought about engaging with the arts.”

Her interactions with Dimitriadis still affect her interests and work today. Schmidt and Kruger-Ross are currently serving on three research grants and working on their next book, all of which will expand upon their current scholarship with a new focus on arts-based pedagogy, centered on arts-based field trips for preservice teachers.

“For us, one of our aha moments was during the pandemic. People looked to the arts to entertain us and connect us to humanity. And so that's where we're headed … We're both super passionate about it.”

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