Sarah Jean Johnson
Assistant Professor, Master of Education in Literacy Education
Dr. Sarah Johnson came to UTEP in 2018 after completing her doctorate in education at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She had previously taught courses in graduate research methods as a lecturer at UCLA and did postdoctoral research at the University of Southern California. She studies the interactional microprocesses involved in language and literacy learning while also accounting for the larger social and historical contexts. The El Paso region has offered an exciting new transnational and multilingual setting for her to do this research. With a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, she is currently studying culturally sustaining pedagogical practices in community arts programs at the border.
Subjects she teaches:
In the M.Ed. program, I currently teach the practicum course (RED 5349). I also teach an undergraduate literacy methods course (RED 4338) and a doctoral proposal writing course (TED 6397).
On what ignited her passion for these subjects:
A touchstone for both my research and teaching are questions of how to create learning environments that support diverse learners through teaching that gets students to think critically and imagine expansively. In these courses I am able to help pre-service and current teachers enact such practices while also reflecting on them through thoughtfully designed action research.
Her proudest accomplishment and biggest challenge as an online instructor:
In my many years of teaching in higher education, I had not taught an online course until the pandemic forced me to quickly convert my courses to online instruction in 2020. I felt largely successful in keeping students engaged in discussions and in activities that applied their learning in this new format. I continue to work to improve my online teaching through the use of interactive, multimodal applications and by finding ways to communicate with students that best keep them connected to our learning community.
On what makes a successful online student:
To maximize one’s learning, an online student should be invested and passionate in learning and not simply be focused on obtaining the qualification or degree. Our college is training education professionals and, as such, I enjoy working with students that really engage with the learning process itself, as this is the hard work that will help them in the profession, whether it is being sympathetic to a struggling student, responding to families, or thinking “outside the box” when responding to challenges in the field.
Her advice to her students:
Do your assigned readings!