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Ph.D. Student Wins National Teaching Award

By Amy Matzke-Fawcett

A Ph.D. student in the Department of English has won a prestigious national teaching award.

Jessica Kubiak won the inaugural 2021 Outstanding Teaching Award from the Conference on College Composition and Communication, a division of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). The organization established the award to recognize best teaching practices in the field.

"I'm floored, but I'm really grateful that CCCC and NCTE created this award to honor the daily work that supports diverse student populations," Kubiak said. "And, honestly, I feel relieved to have this massive acknowledgement that the instructional decisions I make are valid and good. It's an incredible award, and clearly I was well-positioned to win it, but I think it mostly reflects the education and support I've been given over the last several years by my colleagues, my graduate faculty, my family, and my students."

She also credits her teenage children, who she said have been responsible and taken care of things around the house, allowing her to take time for her studies. "It's been a lot of work for all of us," she said.

Kubiak, an associate professor of reading and composition at the State University of New York (SUNY)'s Jamestown Community College, attends ODU virtually while teaching full-time.

Her doctoral research focuses on teaching and how faculty language and feedback affect some first-year student experiences.

"In particular, I'm concerned that this is the case for English-speaking adults in their first year of college writing coursework, and I'll be studying populations of learners in northern Appalachia specifically," she said. "So, there's a strong undercurrent of sociolinguistics in what I've researched in general, but my actual focus is more about learner experience, and I'll be situating that experience in terms of learner affect and shame. My goal is to move toward what I'm calling a "post-consent" framework for providing feedback to learners."

She has taken a one-year sabbatical to spend in Norfolk doing research post-pandemic, allowing her to further connect with the community.

Kubiak took a few summer classes in-person before the COVID-19 pandemic through the department's Summer Doctoral Institute, which brings distance students in the English Department to ODU's campus for classes.

"I've developed some incredibly strong relationships with peers and faculty, and I think the ODU English PhD program does distance learning right: this will be my third graduate credential completed largely from a distance, and it's been my best experience by far," Kubiak said. "I feel really anchored to the campus and people there."

Kubiak will be announced as an inaugural recipient of the CCCC Outstanding Teaching Award during the 2021 CCCC Awards Presentation this spring.


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