Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Parent, Teacher, Author


Lego study photo

In the past seven years, I have seen my research interests begin to focus on issues of social justice and equity. These range from my interest in studying how sexualized media impacts children and young people to my interest in implementing and evaluating a mentoring program for new faculty and a STEM camp for middle school girls. Each of the pieces of scholarship that I’ve done over the past several years has allowed me to grow in my understanding of processes that impede those from underrepresented populations in their ability to succeed and strategies to promote success.

I believe that it is imperative that scholars engage in public conversation about their work, and engaging in this public discourse has allowed me to develop a national reputation regarding how media depictions of gender influence child development. In our connected world, scholars who engage publicly can break the boundaries that separate those in the academy from the layperson whom their research might affect. Blending my scholarly interest with my focus on social justice has allowed me rich opportunities to write and speak in both settings. My writing and presenting related to my scholarship aim to shed light on the scholarly information in a way that is accessible to the public, and to provide strategies that will aid those from underrepresented populations to succeed.

For example, I started writing the book Sexualized Media Messages and Our Children in 2009. It was an effort of great will and determination to do the amount of research required to bring important empirically based knowledge into a format that was accessible to parents and professionals who work with children. I persisted because I believe that it is vitally important for this message to be shared. It is my calling as a psychology professional and Christian to help move this conversation and broader conversations about equity and justice forward for both scholarly and popular audiences.

Book cover

One of the features on the blog is a series of podcasts called Gender and Media Talk. I developed this series in order to share cutting edge research on gender and media with the public in an accessible way. I have also written articles and participated in interviews for various public outlets in order to share my research and related information with a broader audience. These include outlets such as the Christian Science Monitor, Yahoo Parenting, the Boston Globe, TweenParent.com, and the Christian Chronicle. All of these document my commitment to bring my scholarship into public discourse.


My second main area of study focuses on the process of learning along with teaching strategies that promote effective learning. I have worked with faculty across several disciplines to use the Learning Research Lab, which I established in order to directly study behaviors, attitudes, and work products of learning. For example, I conducted a study about the use of mobile technology in cooperative learning environments with Dr. Houston Heflin, which was presented at two international peer reviewed conferences in the field of teaching and learning. My blog series on Creativity, edu. is an example of the kind of thinking that I’m currently doing about how creative practices can enhance learning in higher education.

As my scholarship indicates, I believe that intellectual inquiry and public discourse must go hand and hand.

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