Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Parent, Educator, Author


Lego study photo

In the past few years, I have seen my research interests begin to focus on issues of learning, with two the two main themes being identity development and teaching and learning. My research studies range from my interest in studying how media and marketing messages impact 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.

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 justice and equity 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 wrote my book, Sexualized Media Messages and Our Children: Teaching kids to be smart critics and consumers in an effort to bring important empirically based knowledge into a format that was accessible to parents and professionals who work with children. I believe that it is vitally important for this message to be shared. The newly released Creating and Consuming Media Messages with Purpose provides teachers with lesson plans and a research base to develop media literacy in middle school aged adolescents. It is vital to 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 and published in 2017 in Computers & Education. My blog series on Creativity, edu. and The Future of Higher Education are examples of the kind of thinking that I’m currently doing about how creativity, connection and courage can enhance learning in higher education.

In 2018 I began to expand my research on LEGO and girls’ negotiation of gendered marketing. My research partner, Dr. Rebecca Hains, and I collected qualitative data with 20 girls aged 6-11. We published one analysis of that data in the book Cultural Studies of LEGO and are currently conducting further analysis of the data.

You can watch a video about how my LEGO research studies began here.

As my scholarship indicates, I believe that intellectual inquiry and public discourse must go hand and hand. Below you’ll find some of my recent publications.

Recent Publications

Books and Book Chapters

Shewmaker, J.W. & Baldridge, S. Implementing an Innovative Curriculum Across a College. In E. Sengupta and P. Blessinger ICT and Innovation in Teaching Learning Methods in Higher Education: Innovations in Higher Education Teaching and Learning. Bingley, United Kingdom: Emerald Publishing (in press).

Shewmaker, J.W. & Boone, A. (2021) Creating and Consuming Media Messages with Purpose: A Guide for Educators. Goshen, KY: Gifted Unlimited.

Shewmaker, J.W. & Boone, A. (2020) Empowering Faculty to Use Practices of Hospitality and Vulnerability to Encourage Risk Taking in the Higher Education Classroom (pp.111-121). In E. Sengupta and P. Blessinger International Perspectives on Improving Classroom Engagement and International Development Programs: Humanizing Higher Education. Bingley, United Kingdom: Emerald Publishing.

Hains, R.C. & Shewmaker, J.W. (2019) “I just don’t really, like, connect to it”: How girls negotiate LEGO’s gender-marketed toys (pp.247-269). In R.C. Hains and S.R. Mazzarella Cultural Studies of LEGO: More than just bricks. Basingstoke: United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.

Shewmaker, J.W. (2018) Using a Contemplative Pedagogy to Promote Discussion in a First Year Seminar (pp. 101-106). In L. Nilson and J. Herman (Eds), Creating Engaging Discussions: Strategies for “Avoiding Crickets” in any size classroom and online. Herndon, VA: Stylus.

Shewmaker, J.W. (2017). Building Belonging: Fostering Difficult Conversations around Diversity (pp.243-256). In K. Longman (Ed.), Diversity Matters, Abilene, TX: ACU Press.

Shewmaker, J.W. (2015). Sexualized media messages and our children: Teaching kids to be smart critics and consumers. Childhood in America series. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger Press.

Shewmaker, J.W. & Lee, S. (2015). Distributed Leadership in a University School Collaborative Partnership to Build the STEM Pipeline for Girls (pp. 195-209). In Blessinger, P. & Cozza, B. (Eds). University Partnerships for Community and School System Development Innovations in Higher Education Teaching and Learning, Volume 5, Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing.

Fang, B., Shewmaker, J., & Self, S. (2015). Designing Free-range Assignments. In D. Preuveneers (Ed.) Workshop Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Intelligent Environments, Prague, Czech Republic, July 13-15, 2015 (pp. 120-129). Amsterdam: IOS Press.

Shewmaker, J.W. & Bolin, P. (2015). Shifting vision: Mentoring as faculty development for all levels of experience (pp. 155-168). In G.D. Wright (Ed.) The Mentoring Continuum: From Graduate School through Tenure, Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.

Shewmaker, J.W. (2014). Exploring the social sciences. In K. Cukrowski (Ed.). Cornerstone Textbook (pp. 39-51). Abilene Christian University: Abilene, Texas.


Smiler, A.P., Shewmaker, J.W. & Hearon, B. Sexuality & Culture (2017). From “I Want To Hold Your Hand” to “Promiscuous”: Sexual Stereotypes in Popular Music Lyrics, 1960–2008. pp. 1-23. doi:10.1007/s12119-017-9437-7.

Heflin, H., Shewmaker, J.W., & Nguyen, J. (2017). Impact of mobile technology on student attitudes, engagement, and learning. Computers & Education. pp. 91-99. doi: 10.1016/ j.compedu.2017.01.006.

Fang, B., & Shewmaker, J. (2016). The case for small data in higher education. In p. Novais and S. Konomi (Eds.) Intelligent Environments. pp. 159–168. Amsterdam: IOS Press. http://doi.org/10.3233/978-1-61499-690-3-159

Shewmaker, J.W. (2013). Social media in the classroom: Challenges and strategies in faculty development. The Journal of Social Media in Society, 3 (1), 87-94.

Lewis, S.L & Shewmaker, J.W. (2011). Considering age and gender: A comparative content analysis of sexualization of teen celebrity photos. International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 5, (12) 215-224.

Christopher, M. & Shewmaker, J.W. (2010). The relationship of affective variables to perfectionism in gifted and highly able children. Gifted Child Today, 33 (3), 20-30.

Shewmaker, J.W. (2007). Assessment of data-based problem-solving skills. The Trainers’ Forum, October 2007.

Book Reviews

Shewmaker, J.W. (2014). Book Review Media Disparity: A gender battleground, Psychology of Women Quarterly, 38: 432.

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