Shawnee State’s Bethany Smith receives Excellence in Humanities Award

PORTSMOUTH- Shawnee State University’s Bethany Smith presented a qualitative interview project during this year’s Celebration of Scholarship conference with the purpose of understanding the writing attitudes and experiences of pre-service teachers. The Adolescent-to-Young Adult English Language Arts Education major received the Excellence in Humanities Award for her work on “Pre-Service Teacher Experiences with Writing: The Good, the Bad, and the Unsaid”.

“It meant so much to get to share my research and be a part of making my participants’ voices heard,” she said. “Receiving the award was a sort of validation that the voices of my participants had truly been heard and—perhaps—some needed dialogue surrounding pre-service teacher experiences with writing was sparked.”

In her research, Smith worked with her participants to discuss their values and what they didn’t value when it came to writing.

“I interviewed four individuals in the Adolescent-to-Young Adult English Language Arts program, coded and analyzed their responses, and then did my best to make sense of how they described their experiences with writing,” she said.

Passionate about the project, Smith shared her own vulnerable situation with possibly having her work scrutinized or rejected. She found this project a chance to attempt to increase dialogue surrounding writers’ experiences with dread and apathy.

“Ultimately, the negative experiences with writing these future English teachers described appeared to have gone unheard throughout much of their academic careers,” she said. “However, negative experiences with writing should never disqualify someone from being a great writer or teacher, which is what I strove to convey through my research.”

Presenting for the Excellence in Humanities sessions, Smith was nervous to speak on her research at first, but was honored to be given the opportunity to share her words and the experiences of her participants with the campus community.

“I am incredibly grateful for all those who made Celebration of Scholarship possible, my participants who gave both time and transparency during our interviews, and for my mentor who guided me through the entire process,” she said.

To learn more about the annual Celebration of Scholarship conference at Shawnee State University, visit

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