Lauren Squires Wins Ratner Distinguished Teaching Award

December 4, 2017
Buckeye Leaf Red with Buckeyes

The Ohio State University College of Arts and Sciences has selected Associate Professor Lauren Squires to receive the prestigious Ratner Distinguished Teaching Award. Squires will use the funds associated with the award toward advancing learning and teaching in her undergraduate courses: English 3271-Structure of the English Language and English 4572-Traditional Grammar and Usage.

More specifically, Squires hopes the grant will enable her to hire a programmer or developer to create a set of interactive applications. Such applications might include:

  • A phonetics app, which will aid in the practicing and testing of International Phonetic Alphabet symbols and their correspondences.
  • A tree-drawing app, which will help students practice and test syntax using tree diagrams.
  • A data collection app, which will enable students to easily conduct surveys for studying linguistic variation and English usage.
  • A language change app, which will illustrate phonetic and grammatical changes over the lifespan of the English language.

These applications will be incorporated into English Linguistics Learning Modules (ELLM)—the online textbook project Squires has begun with an Affordable Learning Grant from the Office of Distance Education and eLearning.

Squires is also considering hiring a developer to create a custom corpus analysis tool that is more student-friendly than the tools that are currently available. A “corpus” is a searchable collection of texts that allows one to find certain words, phrases or grammatical patterns in a large collection of texts. Corpora are also beneficial for cultural analysis. For Squires, using a linguistic corpus—either online or through freestanding software—is a central tool in her teaching across an array of courses. Such a tool would give students enough data and options to play with but be controlled enough to not be overwhelming or difficult to use. These tools speak to Squires’ interest in continuing to develop her pedagogy with applications that are interactive, engaging and accessible.

Robyn Warhol, chair of the Department of English, expressed that “the way Professor Squires teaches it, linguistics has a clear social-justice mission—getting students to understand the role that language differences play in hierarchies and stereotypes. To gain this insight, students have to master skills that might baffle them if their teacher did not attend so carefully to the language(s) they are familiar with. Drawing examples from popular culture as well as literature, from their own writing style as well as the discourse of others, professor Squires teaches them to pay closer attention to the language they produce and encounter everywhere. What she is giving to future high school English teachers, in particular, is invaluable.”

Squires conveyed that she is truly honored to receive the award and is appreciative of what it represents, particularly with regard to the College of Arts and Science’s commitment to supporting pedagogical exploration and innovation.

Previous Ratner Award winners from the Department of English include Tommy Davis (2016), Wendy Hesford (2015) and Elizabeth Renker (2014). 

By Michaela Corning-Myers