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Beeker & Swafford honored for Teaching

Two Communication Studies Graduate Students Receive CoLA Teaching Award

Kenny Beeker and Shelby Swafford
Pictured: Kenny Beeker & Shelby Swafford

Two Communication Studies Graduate students, Masters student Kenny Beeker and Doctoral candidate Shelby Swafford were recently recognized by the College of Liberal Arts (CoLA) as Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistants. This award was to be given to two graduate students (one M.A., and one Ph.D.), who have demonstrated innovative, creative, and transformative teaching practices in their pedagogy and academic work.

Both Beeker and Swafford have consistently demonstrated their dedication to communication as an integral aspect of higher learning through their continuing encouragement of active student engagement within their coursework. Swafford’s pedagogy centers around an understanding of the students as the centripetal force of her teaching, with a heavy emphasis given to the agency of students in the classroom, as she notes in her teaching philosophy. Beeker, likewise, comments on his pedagogy as involving a collaboration with students in the classroom, centering on the skills and insights they will gain from their time in the course.

Both awardees’ dedication to critically-engaged communication pedagogy was noted in their nomination letters, with Dr. Sandy Pensoneau-Conway writing that Shelby is “one of the strongest teachers I have seen in our graduate program.” Pensoneau-Conway also wrote of Beeker that his listening ear was always dedicated to the task of bettering his pedagogy and teaching practice.

Swafford and Beeker continue to serve the department, the former in her role as the editor-in-chief for Kaleidoscope: A Graduate Journal of Qualitative Communication Research, and the latter in his role as director of the Speaker’s Center.