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Last modified: Friday, April 13, 2012

Faridah Pawan

The President's Award

Associate Professor of Education
Department of Literacy, Culture and Language Education
School of Education
University Graduate School
Indiana University Bloomington
Appointed to IU faculty, 2003
B.S., Indiana University, 1984
M.A., Indiana University, 1985
Ph.D., Indiana University, 1995

For Faridah Pawan, collaboration is a second language.

As an associate professor of language education at Indiana University Bloomington, she has created two federally funded and three state-funded programs to help Indiana classroom teachers strengthen their knowledge base in teaching English as a Second Language and to collaborate in working with students whose first language is other than English.

During her recent sabbatical in Beijing, Pawan collaborated with Chinese colleagues at two universities in their professional development programs for Chinese public school teachers who teach English as a Foreign Language. Pawan also collaborated with the Peace Corps in developing a customized and hybrid master's degree program for Peace Corps volunteers teaching English overseas.

Pawan grew up in Malaysia, where acquiring a second language is synonymous with socioeconomic and professional advancement. Through scholarships and financial aid, learning English and the pursuit of higher education were made possible for her, but many other low-income Malaysians didn't have the same chance. Keeping in mind the opportunities that she had been given, Pawan dedicated herself to learning English and became the first in her family to complete college.

While pursuing her undergraduate degree, Pawan taught English to Navajo students in Arizona, reinforcing the critical role of ESL for non-native speakers. In graduate school, she developed a research interest in identifying and comparing professorial literacy expectations of international and U.S. students, laying the groundwork for her career in bridging language and achievement gaps.

"It's hard to overestimate the energy and effectiveness of Professor Pawan and her value to the Indiana University School of Education," says Gerardo González, dean of the school.

Pawan's work in ESL and EFL is based upon her sociocultural perspective as a teacher-educator.

"I see my learning and development as being grounded in the experiences of the communities that I work and live in, whether they are in Malaysia, China or the U.S.," Pawan says. "Within the same framework, I subscribe to a vision of the profession in which teaching, research and service inform and transform one another."

Pawan's former graduate student Ginger Sietman, of Crown Point, Ind., is proud to call Pawan her mentor. Sietman describes her co-editing experience with Pawan (on the Collaborative Partnerships Between ESL and Classroom Teachers Series book, "Helping English Language Learners Succeed in Middle and High Schools") as her most challenging but rewarding project in graduate school, apart from her dissertation.

Jaehan Park, a current doctoral student from South Korea, sees Pawan as a teacher who strives for inclusiveness in the classroom. Park notes that her extensive use of different instructional mediums and the promotion of collaboration make room for both international and U.S. students to work together in ways that validate their background experiences. Park helps Pawan to coordinate one of her programs and says that Pawan mentors him by trusting in him, setting high standards and providing clear directions for improvement.

"I have observed Dr. Pawan's teaching and have enjoyed the impact her new teaching ideas have had on me and other colleagues," says Larry Mikulecky, chair of the Department of Literacy, Culture and Language Education in the IU School of Education. "Her enthusiasm for using new technologies to enhance collaboration and learning have won over both newer and older colleagues and changed for the better the new teaching efforts made by our department."

Pawan was the recipient of the Burton W. Gorman Teaching Award from the School of Education in 2007 and the national TESOL/Heinle and Heinle Award in Excellence in Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language in 2001.

Pawan's overarching goal is to improve effective instruction for English language learners through teacher professional development. For her combined efforts in this area, she has to date acquired and sustained funding from federal and state sources that totals $2,665,211. Two of her projects, TACIT (Tandem Certification of Indiana Teachers) and the ICP (Interdisciplinary Collaborative Program), have been nominated for awards, and teachers who were students in these programs have been recognized with awards of their own.

"In just a decade on our faculty, Professor Pawan has distinguished herself as an innovator in helping people across the world learn English," González says. "We should recognize that in this effort, Faridah Pawan is not just effectively teaching IU students, but quite literally reaching the world through her work."