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Last modified: Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Emily A. Bowman

Distinguished Teaching Award -- The Lieber Memorial Teaching Associate Award

Doctoral Student in Sociology
Department of Sociology
College of Arts and Sciences
Indiana University Bloomington
B.A., Hanover College, 2000
M.A., Indiana University, 2004

"Emily is the model of a teacher-scholar," says Eliza Pavalko, Allen D. and Polly S. Grimshaw Professor of Sociology and chair of the IU Bloomington sociology department. "In a department where many faculty and students put a great deal of energy into excelling as teachers, Emily clearly shines."

Emily Bowman took to heart an important lesson from her parents, one from which untold numbers of university students will benefit.

The daughter of public school teachers, she came to understand, she says, that teaching and learning cannot be separated, that teaching "needs to be a dynamic, flexible process that accounts for differences in learning styles."

Recognized for her scholarship, Bowman has also distinguished herself as a teacher—in a department that has received national recognition for the care it takes in preparing its students to teach.

Pavalko points out that Bowman "engages students, including those who are in the course only because it is required. She nurtures and encourages students who are struggling, and she challenges even the strongest students in her class."

Still early in her career as a scholar, Bowman has made it clear to people like Chancellor's Professor Robert Robinson that teaching has become what he calls "her life's work." Beyond Bowman's "excellence in the classroom," Robinson notes many endeavors outside of the classroom, such as her review of the book The Joy of Teaching: A Practical Guide for New College Instructors in the journal Teaching Sociology and her presentation of papers at national conferences.

Though perhaps born into teaching, she still has left little to chance, completing the department's three-course Preparing Future Faculty sequence when only the first course is mandatory, and seeking additional guidance in teaching from her professional associations. For her efforts, she was awarded the department's Edwin H. Sutherland Award for Excellence in and Commitment to Teaching.

Bowman's teaching style draws on her experiences as an undergraduate at a small liberal arts college and applies them as a graduate student at a Big Ten university. By the second week of class, for example, she has already met with most of her students and knows them all by name.

"I find that students appreciate it when I refer to their vampire obsessions or their part-time jobs as bartenders or servers while illustrating concepts during class," she says, "and they often become more actively engaged and interested in the course as a result."

She works hard to make her classrooms a collaborative place where her students feel comfortable sharing in discussions. "I see the classroom as a space in which everyone is teaching and everyone is learning," she writes.

Bowman is committed to helping her students develop communications skills—both verbal and written—because of their importance in whatever careers her students pursue. She requires a great deal of writing in a wide range of formats, including pop quizzes, reaction papers, and essay exams. Exercising critical thinking skills is a given in her classes, which she designs and orchestrates to encourage group discussions and to hone students' skills in expressing themselves clearly and logically in front of others.

Using different techniques in class is important to her. In describing her work, she says she "fluctuates between lectures, discussions, formal group discussion days, video showing, role-playing, simulation games, writing exercises, group work, and other learning opportunities."

Bowman's work has garnered IU's prestigious John H. Edwards Fellowship and the Sage/Pine Forge Teaching Innovations and Professional Development Award. She says, however, that she feels most rewarded when a student demonstrates the "sociological imagination, takes on the role of the other, or presents a thoughtful and cogent argument."

"I have learned that teaching well takes more than good intention," she says. "It requires consistent, conscious effort. Although I am happy with the progress I have made so far, I see teaching well as a lifelong journey of adaptation, discovery, and development, and I look forward to it."